TOPEKA, Kans. (RNS) Steve Drain, spokesman for Westboro Baptist Church, says the intersection of 12th and Orleans streets is “the epicenter of the moral struggle of the covenant.”
On one side sits Westboro Baptist Church, known for its small but vocal protests with colorful signs declaring that “God Hates Fags” or “Fag Marriage Dooms Nations.” Directly across the street, the group Planting Peace purchased a house in 2012 and later painted it the rainbow colors of gay pride, officially launching it as the Equality House, a symbol of “compassion, peace and positive change,” according to its website.
In a town of less than 130,000 residents, many of the 50 to 75 members of Westboro Baptist Church live within blocks of the Equality House. Loving thy neighbor can get complicated when polar ideologies meet within 50 feet of one another.
Fred Phelps Jr., son of the late Westboro founder Fred Phelps Sr., says he sees a resident of the Equality House while out running, but hasn’t interacted much beyond “a nod of the head or a brief ‘hi.'” When Equality House staged a drag show on their front yard, “All About That Bass” booming over into Westboro’s yard, Phelps planned to stay away.
Video produced and edited by Sally Morrow | Religion News Service