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Churches Brace for Westboro Baptist Protest

The controversial anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church says it plans to protest at four Lehigh Valley churches Jan. 20.

Threats of protests by Westboro Baptist Church have a Lehigh Valley congregation uneasy and police planning extra patrols on Sunday.

Folk are "a little ill at ease" said First Baptist Church secretary Kim Nemeth, who learned of the planned protest from police on Tuesday. Officials don't want people to feel inhibited when they come to worship at the South Whitehall church, she said.

Westboro says it is planning to stage protests at four Lehigh Valley churches including the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, according to a press release posted on the group's website.

Diocesan spokesman Matthew Kerr told Patch on Wednesday that he's aware of the protest but offered no further comment.

"Often they don't show. We're hoping that occurs," said South Whitehall Police Lt. John Christman. He and township Manager Jon Hammer met with the pastors at the targeted churches in South Whitehall about the matter on Tuesday.

Do you support the online petition to designate Westboro Baptist a hate group?

If Westboro does picket, authorities will "let them do what they do," Christman said. "Let them have their protest." However police would need to take appropriate action if they block roadways, he said.

Christman said the police department will likely have extra patrol cars and undercover officers on duty. He said he heard counter protests may be planned.

The press release says the protests will target "whorehouses masquerading as churches" and lists the following times and locations:

  • 8:30 to 9 a.m.: St Paul's Anglican, 2510 Livingston St.
  • 9:05 to 9:30 a.m.: Asbury Church, 1533 Springhouse Rd.
  • 9:50 to 10 a.m.: Cathedral of St. Catharine, 210 N. 18th St.
  • 10:30 to 11 a.m.: First Baptist Church, 1808 N. 19th St.

When asked why First Baptist may have been targeted, Pastor Chuck Reed said, "We're an old Baptist church and I think they assume we're a liberal church." 

But, he said, "We're conservative evangelical. We're not liberal at all."

He said Westboro seemed to hit four corners of theology in the churches they are targeting on Sunday—Baptist, Methodist, Catholic and Anglican.

He said First Baptist Church does not support Westboro's views but is not worried about their visit. "We've been praying for them," Reed said. 

"We're a Biblically driven, local evangelical church ... and we just love people. We worship God as a community."

Kansas-based Westboro is an independent Baptist church known for its extreme opposition to homosexuality and its protests at military funerals.

An online petition to classify Westboro as a hate group and revoke its federal tax-exempt status has gained close to 74,000 signatures.

Tony January 18, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Sue, its because Republicans are a big problem to the direction of our country. They are biggest hypocrites. For example, some republicans, even ones that were running for VP of USA, were trying to define "rape" in order to push through their religious beliefs onto the rest of the nation on abortion. There was "magical rape" "legittmate rape" and "rape rape". It is sick to even have the discussion but that is what the republicans wanted to do. They wanted to force probes inside of woman to force them to receive a ultrasound picture. Big government at hand....always from the Republicans. Even our governor tried pushing such ridiculous laws through. So meanwhile, the republicans do not want any abortions, even in some instances of any type of rape. Then when the unwanted child is born, those same republicans want to provide absolutely ZERO services to provide for the unwanted child, no healthcare, no schooling, no welfare, no unemployment benefits, no social security....who is going to provide for the child? This is the republican hypocrisy. The same ones that preach the bible that are sooooo gung ho to go to war. Show me in the bible where it says it is okay to kill for any reason whatsoever. Show me where it says Jesus killed someone to protect himself. Show me where it says it is okay to do so. Oh and it has to be from the New Testament since you cant pick and choose what to believe in it, since it is ALL of God's word. Show me where Jesus gave to rich and showed sympathy to
Tony January 18, 2013 at 02:21 PM
that is absolutely correct and where the nation is heading...in the right direction
Jeffrey Weiner January 18, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Its Sunday. Thats the day they are protesting when everyone will be there. Please read the article again
Jody Jackson January 19, 2013 at 05:28 AM
GOD wants you to spread the word , not protest.... Show People that GOD brings PEACE and HOPE..... YOU are doing mans WILL , NOT GODS WILL...... I don't think GOD is behind you on this . Teach people to LOVE one another..... AMEN
Terri Black March 11, 2013 at 06:37 AM
You really REALLY got conservatives all wrong. You have been lied too, and believed every word. Go to Fox News and watch it for a month. Give it a month. Decide for yourself. Go to the website too. You have been HORRIBLY misled, by TERRIBLE, MADE UP LIES by left leaning "news" organizations, that have an agenda. These same "news" orgs have been caught, TIME AND AGAIN, bold faced LYING (AND editing videos) about Fox news AND conservatives. Conservatives HATE a huge government that overwhelms The People. A government that grows like a fat cancer and over taxes it's people. Is that wrong of us? How MUCH SHOULD the TAX PAYER spend on other people who DO NOT WANT TO HELP THEMSELVES? Half our paycheck? 3/4 of our paycheck? When is enough, ENOUGH? If this makes us "money grubbing" (even though it is OUR HARD EARNED MONEY) then, so be it. (Actually, it has been PROVEN, that conservatives FAR out rank liberals on charity giving, not that this is a competition,) As for the gun issue, what part of "If you OUTLAW guns, ONLY CRIMINALS will have them" do you not understand?

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