The homophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic members of the Westboro Baptist Church, led by the evil Reverend Fred Phelps, don't always show up when they threaten to protest military funerals and the like. But they appear to be serious about befouling three local sites on Thursday morning, including the graduation ceremony for Ponderosa High School at Sports Authority Stadium in Parker -- because they've told representatives of the Parker Police Department to expect them.
That's the word from Michelle Tripp, communication specialist for the Douglas County School District, which encompasses Ponderosa. She says the WBC notified the police to expect between six to eight picket wavers -- a typical number for a congregation whose size is modest in comparison to the amount of anger they spur.
Why go after Ponderosa grads? The motivation appears to be an essay written by Ryan Wheeler, a Ponderosa senior who contributes to the Denver Post's Colorado Voices feature. "What if, just once, not all speech was sacred?," published on March 20, doesn't mention Westboro by name. However, Wheeler references a U.S. Supreme Court ruling "that members of a fundamentalist church in Kansas had the constitutional right to hold anti-gay protests at military funerals." His take on the verdict: "I know it is their right to protest, but for once I want it taken away."
That was more than enough for the WBC. An April 25 press release setting the picketing time for 7:15 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Thursday declares, "We will give your children an opportunity to see what truth looks like, the face of what they were entitled to have from every adult that ever touched their lives! You brutish teachers & hateful parents have broken the moral compass of this generation, teaching rebellion with everything you say & do as evidenced by a letter to the editor of the Denver Post by a student of Ponderosa High. It is shameful the state of those students -- they have been taught rebellion against God, to run after their lusts & love that which God Almighty calls abomination & worthy of death. You hate those kids!"
Marijuana Deals Near You
As the graduation date neared, a Facebook group, Counter-Protest Westboro Baptist Church in Colorado!, began making plans to demonstrate against the demonstrators. But the school district argues for a less confrontational approach. A district letter posted on the page reads in part:
While we acknowledge both group's constitutionally-protected right to protest, we are requesting that they be respectful of those going to the graduation ceremony, as well as the community surrounding the stadium.
We are encouraging our students, family and the community at-large to ignore the protests. We ask all of those involved to avoid engaging or inciting the protesters.
In the meantime, Tripp says, "we've been working closely with district security and the Town of Parker. And we've set up a space outside the stadium for Westboro Baptist Church people and the planned counter-protest on public property" -- a thus-far-incomplete turn lane. Members of the Parker Police and school district security forces will be present to make sure things don't get out of hand.
Tripp isn't comfortable speculating on the feelings of the community about the WBC invasion. But she stresses that the event is intended "to celebrate the achievements of these graduates. It's a sacred ceremony for them."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Westboro is also planning to picket at the University of Denver Hillel at 9:15 a.m. and the Denver Islamic Society at 10 a.m. Interview requests made to both organizations have not been returned thus far. Perhaps the folks there feel the best reaction is as little response as possible.
Look below to see items about the protests from the Westboro Baptist Church's online schedule:
Ponderosa High School Graduation in Parker, CO May 19, 2011, 7:15 AM-8:00 AM
WBC will picket the Ponderosa High School Graduation to tell the graduates the truth for once in their miserable, worthless lives. Specifically, his nibs, Ryan Wheeler, who took up pen to lie about God and His servants at WBC, and to show his complete ignorance of Doomed american law and history. His parents and teachers must be so proud of his advocating for the repeal of the First Amendment on the alter of worshipping dead soldiers. That "old piece of paper" (the United States Constitution) is a beautiful garment with which God Almighty clothed this ungrateful, rebellious nation. You despise all of God's blessings, so you will have none of them! It's all curses all day for you rebels.
Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee. (Dt. 28:45.)
You have made the youth of this nation absolutely good for nothing but destruction -- fodder for the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not. (Isa. 65:12.)
The words WBC brings to you today are life and health to anyone who will hear and heed. Your only hope is to repent (stop your filthy sinning) and obey God. We recommend it! Thank Ryan for inviting us!
University of Denver Hillel (Merage & Allon Hillel Center) in Denver, CO May 19, 2011, 9:15 AM-9:45 AM
WBC will picket the apostate Jews at the University of Denver Hillel, where they teach their traditions instead of the commandments of God.
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition... Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. (Mk. 7:9, 13.)
Like your namesake, you have made it their life's work to lie to as many people as they can about the truth of God. Hell is too long, Jews; STOP THE LIES! Admit you killed Jesus Christ because He said He was the son of God, and you hated him for that! Repent and mourn for that great sin! The time is short -- the fullness of the gentiles is almost come in, and the 144,000 righteous Jews will be saved. The rest of you hard-hearted Jews will face the worst destruction ever, making the holocaust look like a tea party!
You know these things are true -- your prophets, apostles and Jesus Christ told you. Are there any good figs in Denver?
Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. (Jer. 24:3.)
Have any of you Denver Jews been given eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand and love your God? We hope so, and we'll see you soon to find out, Lord willing!
Denver Islamic Society in Denver, CO May 19, 2011, 10:00 AM-10:30 AM
WBC will picket the Muslims at the Denver Islamic Society to remind everyone that your violence changes exactly nothing. Islam is, always has been and always will be a false religion concocted by a pedophile to serve his lusts. All those who blindly follow this fool's teachings are headed to the same hell Muhammad landed in the second he quit this earth.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep?s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Mt. 7:15-20.)
What were Muhammad's fruits? He had multiple wives (including a 6-year-old) when God's standard is one man, one wife, for life.
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain but on flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Mt. 19:5-6.)
More importantly, he denied that Jesus Christ was the son of man. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Mt. 10:33.)
Muhammad is a false prophet. Deal with it! He's not going to be able to help you when you stand before the Judgment Seat! Run, don't walk, from this place! Repent and obey God TODAY!