Correction: This story has been modified from its original version. — Josh Olinger was misquoted. The quote should read "Nowhere in the Bible does it say God hates fags." The Collegiate Times regrets this error.
Lanes of honking traffic and a handful of police officers divided an angry church and rowdy crowd in Blacksburg Friday.
Westboro Baptist Church members staged three protests Friday, targeting the Jewish and gay communities and the death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.
The group traveled in a Kia Sedona van to Blacksburg’s Jewish Community Center, then down the block to the corner of North Main Street and Roanoke Street. Next, the van made its way through a pack of school buses to Blacksburg Middle
School as middle school students left and displaced Blacksburg High School students arrived at school.
There were no arrests or violent incidents. Police intervened to keep community counter-protests across the street from the WBC members in front of the middle school, as the crowd momentarily advanced to the median.
The WBC protest was directed at the community for causing the death of Morgan Harrington by tolerating various groups the church interprets as sinful.
Shirley Phelps-Roper, eldest daughter of the church founder Fred Phelps, led the six protesters. The group consisted of three adults and three children.
The group was armed with signs bearing slogans such as “The Jews killed Jesus,” “Fag Hokies,” and “God is your Enemy.”
Phelps-Roper hailed the protest as a successful endeavor.
“It’s a 10,” Phelps said, before quickly correcting herself. “Out of 10, it’s a 12.”
A few feet away, Tommy McDearis, pastor of Blacksburg Baptist Church, looked on quietly.
“God is not a god of hatred,” McDearis said. “It’s been embarrassing. For two weeks people have been calling me asking what I think about them.”
“They don’t represent the God I speak about.”
Blacksburg Middle School eighth-graders Alanah Flad and Gabrielle Meek stood on the edge of the school property after their school day was over and watched the WBC protest.
“I think it’s crazy, especially since they have kids,” Meek said.
Phelps-Roper brought her two kids along, seven-year-old Luke and 11-year-old Noah. She said earlier that Luke was the group’s second most active member, after Phelps-Roper herself.
Ben Phelps also brought his daughter, six-year-old Anna.
Flad said the day was anything but average inside the walls of the middle school, as students stood up for the groups the WBC members targeted with their protests.
“Everyone I know was wearing gay rights T-shirts and yarmulkes,” Flad said. “That’s all we talked about.”
The group left BMS at 2 p.m. Phelps-Roper said the WBC members had protested in Charleston, W.Va., Thursday night. The WBC Web site said the next protest is scheduled for Des Moines, Iowa.