Anti-Gay Church Protests Brookfield 'Mega Church'
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church gathered at Elmbrook Church Sunday morning to decry pastors' 'failure' to prevent homosexual marriage among other things, as part of their Wisconsin tour this week.
About a half-dozen members of the Westboro Baptist Church hopped out of a minivan around 9 a.m. Sunday at Brookfield's Elmbrook Church, sporting picket signs to promote their anti-gay, anti-"mega church" message and express their fear for Wisconsin's direction.
WBC, a Kansas-based group known for picketing military funerals, has a history of protesting so-called "mega churches," Westboro church member Margie Phelps said Sunday. She disdained counter-protesters for their failure to "obey" God.
"We're here to tell these false prophets that (they've) taught people to sin," Phelps said, referring to pastors of churches like Elmbrook, which are "doomed" for allowing "fag marriage."
Another WBC member, Rebekah Phelps-Davis, said Elmbrook's pastors depart from the Bible because they strive only to make their parishioners "feel good." For her, churches like Elmbrook preach that God loves everyone, an ideology that clashes with the WBC's anti-homosexuality doctrine.
"It's all demonic lies so (pastors) can keep the money rolling into the whore houses," Phelps-Davis said. "Their duty is not to make people feel good, but to preach the truth."
Some among the crowd of counter-protesters took issue with the WBC's message. Barb Dittrich of Oconomowoc sported a picket sign which read "God is Love."
"I come from a family that is firmly rooted in Christianity, and this is not at all Christian," Dittrich said. "It upsets me because it makes Christians look bad. God is love. He doesn't hate people."
The protest began just as Elmbrook parishioners started trickling in for the 9:30 a.m. service, as WBC members lined up along South Barker Road facing the church. They stood along a group of about 20 counter-protesters and a handful of onlookers.
Some counter-protesters blared music from their cars or revved their engines to drown out the WBC's stereo, but others mingled among WBC members, chatting casually about each others' views. One mingler, Micah Orsatti of Minnesota, got a mouthful from Phelps, who shouted at him to "crack open a Bible" and "shut (his) worthless mouth and obey (God)."
"I'm not really protesting, since nothing will change their minds," Orsatti said. "I view them as a natural force more than anything."
Ben Wolf of Milwaukee, an army veteran, said he is bothered by the WBC's practice of picketing military funerals.
"It's very sick. I have friends who came very close to getting killed in Iraq," Wolf said. "They have the right (to protest funerals), but it doesn't mean they should do it."
Aside from the practices of so-called mega churches, Phelps-Davis said the WBC fears for Wisconsin after Pastor Philip Caminiti, who advocates beating children, was convicted on child abuse charges. Phelps-Davis said he was only fulfilling a "duty to his children."
The Elmbrook protest was one of ten planned by the WBC in the Milwaukee area this week.
"WBC will picket the dog-kennel masquerading as a church known as Elmbrook Church in religious protest and warning," the group said. "These phony preachers lie about God's word in order to fill the pews and collect more money."