anti-Semitic and anti-gay church
to picket at Rutgers
By SERGIO BICHAO,
from the Web, October 22, 2009
A Kansas-based church, whose members
are known for carrying signs that read "God Hates Fags" and "God Hates Israel"
at funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and people who died
from AIDS or were killed in accidents, is coming to New Brunswick next week to
picket in front of a Rutgers University Jewish student center and the city's
The two New Brunswick locations are part of a two-day, 12-stop protest campaign
throughout the state beginning on Tuesday, according to the Westboro Baptist
Church's Web site.
When the anti-gay and anti-Semitic congregants do arrive at the Rutgers Jewish
student organization, Hillel, they will be greeted by a swarm of
counter-protestors, Hillel associate director Rabbi Esther Reed said.
"Students have really made clear they will not stand idly by when an
anti-Semitic group comes to protest outside Hillel," Reed said Wednesday.
"We've been working with student leaders and with support of many co-sponsoring
student organizations to organize a rally we're calling Rutgers United Against
The principal of New Brunswick High School and district superintendent Richard
Kaplan did not immediately return calls for comment Wednesday.
In a message accompanying the listing for the protest at the high school,
Westboro's Web site quotes scripture and a long UrbanDictionary.com definition
of New Jersey — "I curse ... a lot. I say "yo', and I say it often.
I never had school on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur." The site then adds:
"Praise God for bringing this little church along so we can shine a bright
spotlight on the filth that IS New Jersey! AMEN!"
For the Hillel protest, the site explains: "WBC needs to have a few words
with these young people because all of the people who ever had any influence
over them — LIED!"
Rutgers has the fourth largest Jewish campus population in the nation with
approximately 5,000 Jewish undergraduates and 1,000 graduate students, Reed
Westboro is scheduled to be in New Brunswick on Wednesday, at the high school
from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. Wednesday and then at Hillel from 8:45 a.m. to 9:15
a.m. The counter demonstrators will gather outside 30 minutes earlier.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks the activities of what it
considers anti-Semitic groups, Westboro mostly comprises the relatives of its
founder, Fred Phelps.
Reed noted that the group is sometimes a no-show at scheduled protest locations.
"If they don't come that's a victory for Rutgers Hillel because we have united
the Rutgers campus against hatred," she said.
Other Westboro stops in the state: Anti-Defamation League of New Jersey in
West Orange, Elizabeth High School, Hoboken City Hall, United Synagogue of
Hoboken, Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, Jewish Community Center in
Paramus, United Jewish Appeal Federation of Northern New Jersey in Paramus, the
New Jersey Jewish Standard in Teaneck, and Dickinson High School in Jersey City.