Churches to protest anti-gay message

A group of congregants from the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church will hold signs with anti-gay messages in front of Albany High School and the University at Albany this week, but one Colonie church is planning to take part in a peaceful counter protest.

The WBC announced its Friday, March 6, stop in Albany on its Web site, www.godhatesfags.com. According to the site, the church members had decided to stop in Albany on their way to Plattsburgh to picket outside SUNY College of Plattsburgh and throughout the city.

The WBC is globally known for its harsh anti-gay stance and controversial signs. While on tour, they spread the message, according to church attorney and the Rev. Fred Phelps' daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper, that God will punish not only those who are gay, but those who live in a community in which others who are gay live.

Although local churches cannot do anything to stop the WBC from coming to the area, several are banding together to counteract the "message of hate."

The Rev. Bruce Cornwell, of the Community Reformed Church of Colonie, said he decided to get his church involved in a "peaceful protest," organized by the Rev. Tony Green of First Congregational Church in Albany after hearing of the event from Green.

"We are hoping that churches will and individuals will wear either armbands or buttons which simply say 'God is love' on that day," said Cornwall.

Cornwell said he, and many members of his church will be taking part in a candlelight vigil on Thursday, March 5, at Albany City Hall, kicking off the interfaith events that the Capital District churches will sponsor in the following 24 hours.

Cornwell said it is important to have this interfaith response to not only counter Phelps' theology of hate with a theology of love, but also to show people that Phelps's interpretation of the Bible does not represent Christianity as a whole.

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