By Rachel Slavik, WCCO-TV

HASTINGS, Minn. (WCCO) — A controversial church did not make good on a promise to protest outside Hastings High School. The Westboro Baptist Church took issue with the school’s performance of “The Laramie Project”, a play based on the death of Mathew Shepard, a gay man from Wyoming.

Word spread that members of the church, an organization known for its anti-gay rhetoric, would protest. So the community took action.

On the sidewalks surrounding Hastings High School, a community waited to greet an unwelcome guest.

“I never liked the Baptist Westboro Church people,” said Sadie Arvidson, who drove in from Minneapolis to protest.

“What they’re doing just isn’t right,” said AJ Sanstad, a protestor.

Through the power of the Internet, word got around that Westboro Church members would picket the final performance of the Laramie project.

With the help of the Angel Wings, which debuted at Mathew Shepard’s funeral, more than a hundred people sent a clear message using signs and solidarity: Hastings is an accepting community.

“We’ll stand here with our signs and show our pride,” said Erin Bohmbach of Minneapolis.

“It’s wonderful to see how many people stand up for what they believe in,” said Dale Skov, who lives in Hastings.

For more than an hour they waited before it became clear that the WBC was not going to show up. No Westboro meant no confrontation.

The community sees it as a win in the ongoing push for equality.

“It’s a victory for us,” said Sanstad.

“I think it shows Hastings does support people of every gender, color, sexuality,” said Diane Rickert of Hastings.

The Westboro Baptist Church posts its protest schedule on its website. There have been instances where this church has scheduled a protest, but never showed up.

They also threatened to protest the same play at Neenah High School in Wisconsin on Saturday. Again, they were a no-show.

Comments (21)
  1. Victim Du Jour says:

    Someone should write a play about Paul Antonich, and make it perfectly scripted so it looks like it’s white liberals fault.

  2. Erin says:

    I drove from Northfield to go help with the counter protest, it was awesome being a part of the counter protest, and it was great being part of the hundreds supporting millions of people, myself included, getting respect, and rights.

    1. Former US Marine says:

      You rock Erin. Thank you for your support for humanity!! You are a Great American!!! Hate has no place in America!!!

      1. Erin says:

        Thank you! It sure did feel good.

  3. JP says:

    So it’s OK to be intolerant of those who are intolerant??? Come on liberals, practice what you preach. Why are you so intolerant against Westboro Baptist?

    1. GI Joe says:

      Victim Du Jour and JP,

      Your comments puzzle.

      Do minority civil rights frighten you?

      1. JP says:

        Not at all. Just curious why those who cry out against intolerance can so easily be intolerant themselves. As the article quotes Sadie Arvidson, “I never liked the Baptist Westboro Church people.”

      2. Victim Du Jour says:

        Who is saying anything about minorities? Are you trying to form a victim coalition?

        Perfectly scripted Meredith Baxter made for TV victim movies were an early 90’s thing.

        People who think like you don’t even know civil rights history.

      3. ConservativeIntellect says:

        JP, not liking someone isn’t always equal to intolerance, read a dictionary. Oh, and I’m not a liberal, I’m a conservative who believes strongly in small limited government, especially separation of church and state and silly things like the government not telling me what I can and cannot do in my own bedroom. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster we don’t live in a country where religious laws run the nation, most of those countries are a crap shoot. But go ahead and protest and talk the talk about how you support this church, it’s your right, even though I don’t like you, I will still tolerate your right. Sorry Sadie didn’t also mention that, maybe it was implied since she didn’t demand silence or threaten the church’s free speech at all in her post?

    2. JFC FINCH says:

      YES. . . If nobody speaks against hateful actions , then those actions become considered acceptable behavior. That so-called “church” — mainly one dysfunctional family — practices hateful and hurtful actions. WWJD?

      1. Victim Du Jour says:

        The Church can make a play about activist staging hoax hate crimes. Like that Saint Cloud student who admitted to slashing her own face, after a security video showed her putting up a hate flyer in a laundry on a college campus.

        Sharai Laws in some counties execute people for same sex relationships. That’s why you don’t see Pride Parades in Pakistan, Afganistan, and Saudi Arabia.

        It’s easier to be safe in the USA pretending Christians are the worse on the planet.

  4. Allah says:

    I love the Westboro Baptist Church… have to know them to love them….send them money for their costs…..they do the Lords work…..

  5. ProudHHSStudent says:

    I drove past and saw my classmates. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since the support we all gave to each other in our school lockdown last year. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud to live in hastings.

  6. Erin says:

    Oh yes, shame on me for wanting to defend something that I believe in. Should I feel silly for also thinking it reasonable to want to be married and have it recognized and be treated like any other American? I think not.

    And look at you! You can sit behind a computer and make snide comments!

    1. Ashley Gibbons says:

      Uhh, so can I. o3o

  7. Ashlery Gibbons says:

    I want to marry that Erin chick, she was hot.

  8. Josh says:

    Every day, I see posts made made by this white supremest “victim du jour”. Every day I cut and paste his comments into emails to both my liberal and conservative friends. General consensus : both left and right believe this coward represents the worst of America.

  9. Victim Du Jour says:

    Gay activism is a mode of worship too, just like religion, and it doesn’t belong in public schools.

    The Church is wrong, but so are the people who are allowing a politically charged theater performance on school property.

    Exploiting Mathew Sheppard is only raising questions about Meth. Some are saying he was a known Meth dealer, according to an ABC report.

    I doubt that the play is Not intended to shed light on drugs.

  10. Erin says:

    The last comment I made was aimed at a comment that has apparently been deleted since…
    And uh, how do you know who I was there? Just out of curiosity..

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