Church Unites to Shun Hate

Twice in two months, a delegation from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, led by Rev. Fred Phelps, picketed Broadway United Methodist Church in Chicago with signs declaring "Fags die. God laughs." Rev. Greg Dell, pastor of Broadway, awaits a church trial for holding a covenant service for a gay couple.

When Phelps arrived at the church last November, more than 1,500 people from the Chicago area were present to make a "Circle of Care" around the church. No violence occurred, but police removed Phelps and his colleagues after the second Sunday morning service began. When members of Phelps' church returned in December, Broadway members and supporters decided to provide little direct response to the demonstrations.

"We felt, and the community agreed, that a second picketing by Phelps warranted an intentional shunning of the group to drive home the point that continued attention to hate really does feed it," said Dell.

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