Members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested at George Washington University’s Mount Vernon Campus on Friday afternoon. Many GW students also showed up on the Vern to counter-protest.
The WBC, a Kansas church known for its extreme opposition of homosexuality, among other extreme ideologies, announced on its website that it would be visiting GW’s Mount Vernon campus. Just hours after word of the WBC’s plan to protest spread, GW students organized an event on Facebook titled, “MVC Pride Rally and Counter-Protest.”
Undeterred by the rain, GW students gathered at the Mount Vernon quad on Friday afternoon before the protest.
“We want to counter their message of hate with a message of tolerance and positivity,” Caroline Gimello, a GW freshman who played a major role in organizing the Facebook event, said.
Students made posters in the basement of Ames Hall. Meghna Batra, a sophomore at GW, was directing the creation of posters. Batra’s instructions were, “We want to keep positive. No negativity, and no inappropriate words.”
The WBC protestors and the GW counter-protestors stood on opposite sides of the street, waving signs. According to the WBC website, their protest was supposed to last a half hour, but they left after 10 minutes.
Paulette, a WBC member from Kansas, explained what they were trying to accomplish by visiting GW.
“We try to hit as many of the college campuses and high schools as we can because they need preaching to, they’re not getting it in the pulpits, and they’re not learning it from their parents anymore, and the message in Mark and Matthew is to go and preach to every creature,” Paulette said.
“We’re preaching ‘Repent or Perish.’ That’s the ultimate message. Repent from your evil ways or you will perish… in the lake of eternal fire.”
Before coming to the Vern, the WBC protested in front of the Supreme Court earlier on Friday. They also protested on Foggy Bottom in 2010.