“We really should raise the bar not lower it,” said Pastor Eric Linthicum of , cautioning counter-protesters to treat Westboro Baptist Church’s members in a respectful manner.
But when Westboro pickets Northwestern High School next Tuesday morning, Linthicum does not plan to be there. He plans to ignore them.
On the flip side, Rev. Diane Teichert of the fears if churches don’t join in the counter-protest, then outsiders will fill the void.
Before moving to Hyattsville, she ministered in Lexington, Mass., where Westboro regularly picketed, and people outside her community flocked in for the showdowns.
Had there been no organized response, Teichert said she is certain the counter-protesters would have looked just like Westboro — yelling and screaming back.
“People can show up who make our community look bad,” she warned.
Rev. Gloria Grant of the said she thinks counter-protesters should not mimic Westboro.
“We are people who are professing Jesus Christ’s love,” she said. “We’re supposed to be shining examples of how the world should act and not acting like them.”
Teichert’s Lexington community decided to handle Westboro with a silent counter-picket. They walked the line with their backs to the Kansans, not talking to them and not even talking among themselves. They felt empowered by a sense of solidarity, and by the fact that Westboro got no attention.
Linthicum said that although he believes the First Amendment gives the Westboro Church members the right to voice their views, he doesn't agree with the message.
“In my opinion, they are not carrying a Christian message," he said. "They certainly are not carrying it out in a Christian manner.”