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Westboro Baptist Church

By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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Mar 01 in Uncategorized
Dear Hollywood Pres Family-
Greetings!  I want to let you know about a possible situation this Sunday, March 4th at the church. It is possible that there will be a small group of people picketing near the church around 9am. There is no reason to be afraid or avoid church whatsoever. If it happens, it will probably be about 6-7 people on a sidewalk nearby with signs.
 
Many of you have probably heard about Westboro Baptist Church. They are a very small “hate group” (mainly one extended family) based out of Topeka, Kansas. If you don’t know about them, you can easily look them up on the internet. They hate pretty much everything- gay people and gay marriage in particular, but also churches, America, the military, etc etc.

Westboro is infamous for showing up to picket almost anywhere they can gain attention or provoke people to respond. They carry hate-filled signs like “God hates fags” or my personal favorite “Your pastor is lying to you!” They are well-known for picketing at military funerals and major events, as well as churches and schools. Their presence at our church has nothing whatsoever to do with us- what we do or don’t believe, or practice or anything else. They are strictly trying to get attention. They are also scheduled to picket Sunday at Blessed Sacrament Church, at a Russian Orthodox Church and (their real target) the Academy Awards just down the boulevard. In fact, they will also be trying to picket at Billy Graham’s service back in Carolina. We are in good company! It appears we just happen to be near the Academy site.

All of the churches in our area are aware and joining us in prayer. The LA Police Department is fully aware of their presence and will be in the area. We have touched in with other churches who have encountered Westboro in the past to get advice, as well as our own attorney. The Westboro group has been to court many times. They know the laws. Courts have upheld their right to free speech many times:
     -  They have the right to picket and gather on public property- sidewalks, medians,                 etc.    
     -  They do NOT have the right to come on church property, nor to interrupt worship 
        services- and that doesn’t seem to be their normal style. What they want is attention-          they want to provoke people into arguing, yelling or fighting.
           
So if this small picketing group actually appears, here are the three things to know:
 
a)      DO NOT ENGAGE. This is what everyone tells us. Just do not engage. Please.  We don’t know exactly where they might be located. If you walk near them, smile...and keep walking into church. Remember, they WANT response, they are trained to take even acts of friendliness or kindness and turn it into a scene. Resist thinking that you will out-logic them or convince them in a way that thousands of other people have not been able to do.  DO NOT ENGAGE.
 
b)      Be PRAYING. These are some hurting people, and need all of our Lord’s compassion and love to break into their lives. Pray for that.
 
c)      Carry out your NORMAL ROUTINE. There is no reason to stay away from church- that feeds into what Westboro wants. It is not dangerous, and we don’t want to allow any hate group to keep us from gathering and worshipping God.
 
Hollywood Pres Elders and Staff will be outside on the sidewalk all around the church between 9 & 9:30am Sunday.  They will cheerily greet you, fill you in on anything new and remind you of the above items.
 
See you Sunday!
   Blessings, Pastor Dan

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