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KS Paint Job Answers Gay Haters

Monday, March 25, 2013

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A nonprofit peace group has put its house paint where its heart is—and, at the same time, right in the face of the nation’s most vocal homosexual-hating church.

The group, Planting Peace, has opened an office in Topeka, KS, directly across the street from Westboro Baptist Church, a 40-member group known for its virulent public protests against gays and other groups.

EqualityHouse
Planting Peace

Volunteers paint Equality House in a rainbow scheme in support of gay rights across the street from the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS.

Not only does Planting Peace support gay rights, but its new Topeka center, called Equality House, is freshly painted in a rainbow color scheme in honor of the Gay Pride flag.

Westboro Baptist

Westboro Baptist Church members have gained international notoriety in recent years for disrupting military funerals, stomping publicly on American flags, and staging other events to publicize their agenda, which also includes hatred of Jews and other groups.

Westboro's website address includes a homosexual slur, and rights organizations monitor the church as a hate group.

WestboroBaptistProtest EqualityHouseSoldier
Westboro Baptist Church (left); Planting Peace (right)

Left: Westboro Baptist Church members protest in 2005. The group disrupts military funerals and other events to protest homosexuality. Right: A soldier poses in front of the new Equality House, across the street from Westboro Baptist.

Although the church calls itself Baptist, it is not affiliated with any Baptist denomination and has been denounced by the two largest Baptist denominations in the United States.

Now, Westboro’s members are looking out their front window at a house-sized Gay Pride flag.

Planting Peace

Established in 2004 in Florida, Planting Peace said Equality House would “serve as the resource center for all Planting Peace equality and anti-bullying initiatives and will stand as a visual reminder of our commitment, as global citizens, to equality for all."

The center’s new location and color scheme are designed to make a statement, the group adds.

“For too long, the Westboro Baptist Church has been targeting the [gay] community with messages of hate and discrimination,” Planting Peace says on its website.

“This faction preaches extremism in our communities and directly targets our youth. To combat their messages of hate and to support equality and anti-bullying initiatives in schools and in our community, Planting Peace has established the Equality House,” a “symbol of equality, peace, and positive change.”

StompTheWorm - PlantingPeace
Planting Peace

Planting Peace's projects include Stomp the Worm, which aims to provide deworming medication to poor populations around the world.

Planting Peace is active in a variety of causes, including orphanages, anti-bullying efforts, rainforest conservation, and a project called “Stomp the Worm,” aimed at providing deworming medications to impoverished communities worldwide.

Child Inspired

Equality House and its paint scheme were inspired by 9-year-old Josef Miles, who faced off last year against Westboro protesters, said Planting Peace co-founder Aaron Jackson, who bought the Equality House building about six months ago.

As church members marched last Mother's Day with signs that read “God Hates [Gays],” Josef displayed a notepad with his own message: “God Hates No One,” Jackson told NPR.

JosefMiles
Patty Akrouche / Facebook

In May 2012, Josef Miles, 9, offered his answer to protesters carrying "God Hates [Gays]" signs in Topeka. His action inspired the establishment of Equality House, its founders said.

Volunteers worked with Jackson last week to finish the paint job and raise a Gay Pride flag on a 30-foot pole in front of the center.

'Something Positive'

A Planting Peace member told Gawker.com that the paint job takes a page from Westboro’s own publicity play book.

“We're going to take the negative attention and try to spin it into something positive,” said Dave Hammet. “Instead of millions of children around the world getting this hate message, they're going to see this message of compassion and love.”

Westboro Baptist said on its website that it “thanks God” for what it called “the sodomite rainbow house.”

   

Tagged categories: Churches; Color; Design; Office Buildings; Residential Construction

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