The “Westboro Baptist Church” of Topeka, Kansas has caused a lot of pain and frustration due to their extreme actions. They’ve protested at the funerals of American soldiers killed in action and shown their strong anti-gay message with picket signs reading “Pray for more dead soldiers” and “Fags die, God Laughs.” The small group is largely considered a disgrace to America, the Christian faith and humanity, and has thus garnered significant media attention. Now, they have a bright new beacon on their block, one that according to most interpretations of Christian scriptures they should Love: it’s an LGBT equality action group.
The house, which is across the street from the WBC, was bought just a month ago by Aaron Jackson and his non-profit organization Planting Peace. They have recently painted it with the colors of the rainbow – a very visible celebration of gay pride – and made it known to the public on March 19. It is the first step in a new campaign planned by the organization to counter the actions of Westboro Baptist Church. Aaron Jackson told Huff Post how he came up with the idea to create an equality house across the street from Westboro:
“I didn’t know anything about the church or where they were located, but that story kept popping up. And one night I wondered, Where is this church? I got on Google Earth, and I was ‘walking down the road,’ and I did a 360 view. And I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign sitting in the front yard of a house. Right away it hit me, Oh my gosh, I could buy a house in front of the WBC! And immediately I thought: And I’m going to paint that thing the color of the pride flag.”
Jackson and Planting Peace had been involved in rainforest conservation, opening orphanages and tree planting programs, but had always wanted to get involved with gay activism. They hadn’t been sure how to participate until the opportunity presented itself. Regarding the plans for the future of the equality house, Jackson says:
“We want this house to be a message that where there’s hate, there’s also love. But we also want to raise awareness and capital, and we want to put all that money into creating and sustaining anti-bullying programs, along with supporting anti-bullying programs that already exist. Beyond the symbolic message of the home, [the house] will be utilized by volunteers to live here, and these volunteers will work on promoting equality anywhere in the world and managing these anti-bullying initiatives that we plan on creating.”
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