Kansas-Based Hate Group Threatens to Protest Gunderson High School Play

The Topeka, Kansas–based Westboro Baptist Church, notorious for picketing at the funerals of American soldiers because its members believe God is punishing the country for condoning homosexuality, has announced plans to stage a protest outside of San Jose’s Gunderson High School this Friday. The church says it’s coming to San Jose because Gunderson is staging a production of The Laramie Project, a play that tells the true story of the murder of a young gay man in 1998.
As word spreads around the valley, counterprotests are being mobilized on social networking sites. Meanwhile Gunderson teachers and school district administrators are praying for a no-show. Surprisingly, Gunderson’s drama director, Trish Buttrill, isn’t one of those people.
Buttrill has been in contact with Westboro’s leadership via email. While she said she doesn’t believe the group will really make good on its vow to come to San Jose, she says the visit would be an excellent opportunity for her students to see the First Amendment in action.
“I think it will be great, because the more people see them, the more they’re exposed,” Buttrill says. “They’re more of a hate group than a church.”
The play, which will run through Friday, March 4, dramatizes the viewpoints of a variety of people in Laramie, Wyo., where the brutal murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard took place. On a fateful autumn night, Shepard was offered a ride home from a bar by two men before being tortured and strung him up to a rural fence. He was left there for dead for no other reason than he was gay.

Read More About The Potential Westboro Baptist Church Protest at SanJose.com.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. “He was left there for dead for no other reason than he was gay.”

    The history has been written by those who control the ink: it was hatred for homosexuality that killed Matthew Shepard, and thus that conviction has become a moral lesson taught to public school students too poorly educated to realize the absurdity of the notion that anything so complex as human behavior might be so easily dissected.

    “… because its members believe God is punishing the country for condoning homosexuality.”

    Members of the Westboro Baptist Church have their own views regarding morality, and for lack of influence in the schools or media they’ve resorted to staging repulsive public spectacles to spread their own absurd, simple notions about human behavior.

    In both cases we have people who believe they’re serving a higher good, people who believe their moral values should be enforced by a higher power, people who believe that human behavior, with a complexity a million years in the making, can be—by god, education, or the lash—made pure. That’s a lot of beliefs, and neither group has any business influencing young people who need to learn to think critically, reason objectively, and accept how little we humans know about ourselves.

    As for which group I consider most delusional, that distinction is easy: one has taken to proselytizing based on the behavior of a majority of Americans, while the other, on the horrific actions of two obscure, thieving, scumbag Wyoming dopers.

  2. They (the Baptist Church) WANT to draw attention.  They thrive on attention.  SO don’t give it to them.  Ignore what they do and say.  If you are going to the play go, everyone else STAY AWAY, STAY HOME. PERIOD.

  3. “Westboro Baptist Church” is not really a “church”, certainly not a “Baptist Church”, and absolutely not a “Christian” anything.

    It is a political “false flag” stunt, put on by some nihilist anarchists trying to stigmatize Christianity as a hate cult, and justify contempt for people who serve in the military.

    The biggest deception is that the ruling class news organs continue to report this as a straight “news story” with absolutely no critical scrutiny or skepticism.

  4. Typical Christian behavior…self serving and hypocritical.  All Christians are great people until they are caught doing something unChristian.  Hitler was a Christian.  KKK are all Christians.  There are too many Christians currently on death row.

    • Les. Your baby is laying recumbent in a puddle of bathwater. Your argument has the same merit as if I just asserted that all environmental activists are eco-terrorists, like ALF or ELF. To say that all of the millions upon millions of Christians in the world are no better than a handful of fringe groups, individuals or movements reveals your own special brand of hatred, prejudice, ignorance and lack or reason. In short, sir, you are as much of a bigot as those Westboro ‘Church’ lunatics, and a hypocrite as well.

    • Isn’t it great that a God still loves us even though we screw up SO much?

      Not saying WBC is good, i’ll be out there counter-protesting, but please don’t group all christians together like that.  Kinda like saying all muslims are terrorists.

      • Matt is right. Isn’t the whole point of most religions to coexist? Stereotypes will never get you anywhere so think before you say something.

    • > Do you think that this church gets a tax exemption ?

      Dear Super:

      Here is a question to which you might devote some of your rapidly diminishing brain power:

      “If a group of nihilist anarchists called themselves a “church”, would they be a church?”

      Here’s a bonus question:

      “If the ruling class news media decided to call Ted Kaczynski a “church”, would HE be a church?”

      And, on the off chance that there might be a few brain cells left:

      “If Al Gore decided to call himself a climate expert, would he be a climate expert, or would he still be just a failed politician and a divinity school drop out?”

      • > Unfortunatly they are considered to be a real church by the IRS so they are tax exempt.

        So, does the IRS have a department that reads the scriptures of all filers applying to be a church, and then make a decision on whether or not they are a real church?

        Whatever happened to “separation of church and state” that the moonbats swear is in the Constitution?

  5. They call themselves a church, they call themselves Christians..They can call themselves crazy too! I think it’s very sad that during a loved ones funeral that a radical, and phycologically incompitent group such as this can do something so disrespectful and inhumane during such a sad and emotional time for family to lay their loved ones to rest! I believe in God..but let me tell you..if they ever thought of doing something as low as that during a funeral in my family..THERE WOULD BE HELL TO PAY!! IN SO MANY WAYS IT WOULDN’T BE FUNNY! YOU ARE SICK PEOPLE..JUST TO DUMB TO KNOW IT. And to justify it with God! unbelievable!

    • Actually, the converse is more true. The founders recognized the dangers inherent in the notion of the ‘divine right of kings’ and wisely enshrined in the constitution that there should be no state religion, that no governing entity should be able to use ‘the will of God’ as rationale for their actions or justifications for their existence and that government should have no role in determining which religions were acceptable and which were not.

      • > wisely enshrined in the constitution . . . that government should have no role in determining which religions were acceptable and which were not.

        Two questions:

        1.) Does the IRS have a role “in determining which religions [are] acceptable and which [are] not”?

        2.) Is the IRS “the government”?

  6. Millions of people have been killed and much evil has and continues to be justified in the name of God, Allah, Jehovah, Christ or many other names of God   – read any newspaper any day

    How long before the “holier than thou ” Westboro Baptist Church leaders are caught in yet another ” Oh Lord, I have sinned” homosexual, molesting little bogs, sex with prostitutes, someone’s wife, husband or both, with drugs and alcohol frequent sinful preachers, ministers, priests, church leaders scandals, again ? 

    ” Fill In Name” Church Leaders caught sinning ” – News at 6 and 11

    • > Millions of people have been killed and much evil has and continues to be justified in the name of God, Allah, Jehovah, Christ or many other names of God   – read any newspaper any day

      And, likewise, millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, even BILLIONS of people have been killed or enslaved by those professing that there is no God, and religion is an opiate.

      So, what’s your point?

  7. @church leaders-

    Again isn’t it great that God still loves a group that continually screws up. How loving is our God!

    Grace is great.

  8. Kudos to Gunderson’s drama director, Trish Buttrill, and her staff, and the student actors, for having the courage to stage the controversial play, The Laramie Project, in a conservative, family oriented community like San Jose. They deserve the support of our community.

  9. I suspect that each and every one of us descended from good people who belonged to churches that condemned homosexuality as an abomination, a threat to public morality, a sin inviting the wrath of god. These ancestors were not kooks nor were their motivations hateful, yet today many perceive those same beliefs, when proclaimed by the Westboro Baptists, as evidence of lunacy, doctrinal illegitimacy, or both.

    Nonsense. The Wesboro Baptist Church is as legitimate as any other religious organization and its doctrine regarding homosexuality is anything but extraordinary. Far from being illegitimate—a charge more fitting for today’s many relativistic churches that function like feel-good juice bars, the Westboro congregation holds to an ostensibly credible, biblically-derived concept, and are enthusiastic about spreading the word. Sounds like real, old-time religion to me.

    From a historical perspective, the condemnation of homosexuality is an absolutely logical response to the threat its practice poses to the stability of a community, just as are sanctions against adultery and premarital sex, so it is not surprising that its condemnation was once a universal in both religion and law. Contrary to today’s twisted notions about hate and intolerance, the control of sexuality was one of civilized man’s first programs for the public good. The widespread assumption that forty years under a sustained avalanche of Hollywood-inspired, media and university sanctioned gay rights propaganda should have eradicated religious beliefs ancient in their roots is just one more example of the decline in this nation’s embrace of reason. The illuminati that holds tight to a veritable library of their own beliefs—some of them demonstrably absurd, just can’t seem to fathom how others might be committed to beliefs they consider abhorrent. That the fundamental conviction of the Westboro church, that tolerance for homosexuality will bring the wrath of god to this nation, cannot be disproved seems to faze its critics not, as they continue to react as if the informed position is to accept that the unprovable has been proved.

    The manner in which the Westboro congregation has chosen to express its religious convictions is offensive by intent, but hardly more so than the terror tactics employed over the years by gay rights activists force-feeding the public with their beliefs. A key difference seems to be how these two groups have been treated by a news media that typically downplayed the excesses of the gay community while hyping every repulsive demonstration by the Westboro Baptists with a level of publicity that would make Paris Hilton swoon. Witness the events of this very week, when the possibility of a protest (was there ever anything more than an email?), was hyped by the media to the point where it became a national news story, led to the organization of a counter-protest, and provided every intolerant member of the tolerance brigade to point their fingers and regurgitate their tired, politically-correct dogma. 

    The culture destroyers who oversee the news media would thank god for the Westboro Baptists if any of them believed in a deity. Any group that can bring disgrace to a Christian institution or widen the perceived rift between the American culture and the Christian beliefs upon which it was founded, will find a willing publicist in every newsroom, eager to feed the resentment and animosity of those who’ve reasoned themselves away from one god only to run into the comforting arms of campus proselytizers pushing a new set of beliefs.

    • The ‘outrage’ demonstrated by millions of Americans rings a little hollow to me and is perhaps more ominous than the reprehensible actions of a few insensitive zealots.
      This ‘outrage’, as typically expressed, seems almost scripted- rehearsed lines proudly uttered by those eager to demonstrate how well they’ve memorized their parts. It seems to me that if this ‘outrage’ was a genuine expression of solid, unalterable character, borne from within of a strong and consistent personal moral and ethical code, then this issue would have been resolved long before the law needed to step in. The moral pressure exerted by the Truly Outraged would have been enough to shame these people into toning down their behavior long before it became a legal question. But instead, we’ve been taught not to have a strong personal moral code- to distrust our own instincts about right and wrong and are afraid to step in unless and until we receive Word instructing us how to correctly react to any given event or issue. We adopt the politically correct position and call it our own.

      The Government and the law are pale substitutes for personal responsibility. We Americans have come to rely upon the government to do so many of the jobs that we should be doing ourselves. We are a weaker society for it.

  10. Their ploy seems to be working; because it has people in our community (or maybe someone from the Westboro group) attacking one another over their (Westboro’s) supposed protests. 
    By the way, Christians are far from perfect, but perhaps they are trying work on doing the right thing.  The Christian faith is a place for sinners to work on, in the least, reducing the sin in their lives.  Some succeed, many fail but keep trying. 
    It’s hard to imagine what is driving the Westboro people, but I believe most will agree, it is not for the greater good.  They are kooks and they are no more Christian than the man in the moon.
    Also, I agree with the comment not to give them the joy of attending their protest.  The more who show up to counter their protest, will provide additional fuel for their ignorant cause.
    I find it disappointing to read some of the personal attacks and vitriol being spouted by some of the previous posters.  Comment’s apparently being directed indiscriminately toward others whom they do not know.  Where has civility gone?  Is it possible to debate an issue without personal attacks?  Anyone who has to issue personal attacks in a debate has too weak an argument to begin with. 
    By the way; I am a Combat Veteran who served in Vietnam.  When I returned unscathed, I volunteered to serve on funeral detail throughout a three state region for a year.  After more than 40 solemn funerals, not once did one get desecrated by fools such as the Westboro “not a church” or anti-war protesters. 
    Sad to say, lost in all of the argument is the fact that the very rights that give them the ability to protest, are the same rights that Gays have to live their lives the way they choose.  To protest a story about a tragic event such as The Laramie Project is just another attention getting ploy.  They should be ignored, and then they will go away. 
    Most of all, let’s not let them divide our community.  Debating religion will not render any absolute verdict on this string.  Heck, it hasn’t been resolved in the last 2000 years; and we certainly won’t figure it out here.  Hope you all have a great weekend.

    • > It’s hard to imagine what is driving the Westboro people, but I believe most will agree, it is not for the greater good.  They are kooks and they are no more Christian than the man in the moon.

      I agree.

      But, it is obvious that these non-entities are being exploited to validate someone’s political agenda.

      The real story is why the ruling class media is not applying an atom of skepticism to this group.  They are simply taking their every claim at face value: they’re Baptists, they’re a church, they’re Christians, and they’re who they say they are and have no history.

      The ruling class media sent planeloads of journalists and “invesigators” to Alaska to scoop up every crumb of gossip and sleaze on Sarah Palin, her family, her in-laws, her friends, her moose-hunting practices, etc.

      But along comes a “group” whose apparent schtick is to discredit all of Christianty, and the news lizards put on their crusading journalist capes and pull out all stops to get this urgent news to the public.

    • Huh? I agree with all you wrote. I have a daughter that attends Gunderson and I made it very clear to her that ignoring the Westboro group is the greatest insult of all.  I only wish the educators at the school would wake up and see it for what it is a total waste of energy and time.  Educating our young adults in learning how to not feed attention to morons would have been a much greater lesson.

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