Westboro church's first protest after founder's death met by counterprotest

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
Lorde fans hit back at Westboro Baptist protest with sympathetic banner

Westboro Baptist Church protesters demonstrating outside of a Lorde concert in Kansas City, Mo., over the weekend were met with an unusual counterprotest.

On Friday, two days after the death of Westboro's founding pastor, Fred Phelps, about 20 members of the church — holding signs that read "God Hates Sluts" among other messages — were greeted by demonstrators with banners that read, "Sorry for your loss" and "Live your life and be awesome."

"We realized that it wasn't so much about antagonizing them," Megan Coleman, who helped create one of the counterprotest signs, told KSHB-TV. "We are here for people who need that message and need that positivity."

The counterdemonstration was, in part, inspired by the New Zealand pop singer herself.

After the Topeka-based church announced it would protest Lorde's show because “the young lady has not been taught and will not teach young women to be sober and godly,” she encouraged fans on Twitter to attend the concert dressed in rainbow colors and kiss Westboro protesters of the same sex.

Westboro members appeared unmoved.

"I don't even know what they're saying," Steve Drain, a longtime Westboro member, told KSHB-TV.

Phelps died Wednesday of natural causes. He was 84.

The demonstration illustrated why Westboro's protests often seem counterproductive: They seem to galvanize supporters of gay rights.

Last week during a Westboro protest of indie rock band Young The Giant, two male band members posed for a picture while kissing each other in front of the protesters, posted the photo to Twitter and announced that would donate all proceeds from merchandise sales at the show to a gay-rights organization.

"Rather than picket Fred Phelps’ funeral," Mark Silk wrote on ReligionNews.com, "we should give thanks for his gift to American society. ... He made religious hostility to homosexuality repulsive."

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