Westboro Chickens Out As Hundreds Of Counter Protesters Show Up To Support Judy Shepard

judy-shepard-colorThe Westboro Baptist Church has a long history of protesting Judy Shepard’s appearances. So when the College of Charleston in South Carolina revealed that Shepard — whose son Matthew was tortured and murdered in 1998 — would be a guest lecturer this month, WBC announced its plans to demonstrate outside of the event.

Well, Shepard spoke to a capacity crowd on Monday evening — the topic was ending hate crimes — but WBC never showed up. If they had, however, they would have encountered a good deal of resistance. Gay Star News reported that hundreds of counter protestors — led by atheist and secular student leaders — showed up to buffer Shepard from WBC.

College of Charleston sophomore Matthew Willingham told Charleston’s Channel 2, “It’s amazing to know that so many people in the community have this strong emotion of love to everyone. It’s just an amazing feeling.”

The Secular Student alliance at the school posted a similarly enthusiastic message online. It read, “We showed the Charleston community just how much love can fit in a bunch of college kids, atheists, and secular students.”

WBC has claimed repeatedly that Matthew Shepard was killed because he was a drug dealer, not because he was gay. Last night, they were supposed to picket another Shepard speech — this one at Indiana University. But again, they no-showed.

Seems like WBC is getting lazier and lazier lately. Maybe they’re tired. It must be taxing traveling around the country, holding those heavy “God Hates Fags” signs for such long stretches of time. And if we’re getting down to brass tacks, the members of the church — led by heterosexual pastor Fred Phelps — aren’t exactly portraits of good health.

Tonight, WBC is scheduled to protest an Eagles concert in St. Louis, Missouri. Their website claims that front man Don Henley is a “serial fornicator” who banged Stevie Nicks in the 1980s. And that begs a serious question — if sleeping with Nicks inspired Lindsay Buckingham to write some of the most iconic music of the 1970s, then why did Henley produce almost exclusively garbage in the 80s?

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #judyshepard #matthewshepard #protests stories and more


  • 2eo

    Why is it always us atheists who are morally defending free speech and protecting the rights of humans?, why is it NEVER religious groups, where are the moderate religious groups?, so they even exist?


    That is an excellent observation. I was thinking maybe WBC is realizing they are being ignored and no one really cares what they think. They usually give more free press to whatever they are protesting than to themselves.

  • hotshot70

    Fred Phelps is not long for this world, and soon he will be in hell!

  • PattyM

    @hotshot70: One can only hope.

  • BECQueerty

    Sam Harris talks about how moderate religious groups are just as culpable as extreme religious groups (The End of Faith). It begs the question of what is a “good religion”. Good comment 2eo.

  • technicolornina

    Excuse you, 2eo, I’m a religious pagan and I fight daily for civil rights (not just gay civil rights, either) and free speech.

    More ridiculous faith-hating twaddle that seeks to lump all faiths in with hateful extremists. Garbage.

  • Caleb in SC

    I am so proud of my hometown!!! I was there and you should have felt the energy. Even people who were not formally part of the counter protest honked and gave signs of support. Go, Charleston!!!

  • Cam

    “”WBC has claimed repeatedly that Matthew Shepard was killed because he was a drug dealer, not because he was gay.””

    Yes, they have. And yet just a month or two ago, gay websites picked up that story because some unknown “Researcher” claimed it in a book. It took a bunch of commentators pointing out that this was the old NOM and Westborough Baptist false story that had been debunked years ago before the websites bothered to even check into it.

  • Badger88

    @2eo: Numerous Christian churches and pastors (such as Martin Luther King, Jr.) were instrumental in organizing the marches for civil rights during the 1960s, so you’re obviously wrong that religious groups don’t protect the rights of humans.

    And today, there are plenty of churches that support marriage equality; you’re just too blinded by your hatred of religion to notice them. Or just too ignorant to know.

  • Cam


    No, actually the main funders of every single anti-gay piece of legislation in the past two decades have been the Mormon and Catholic churches.

    So identifying that the two largest, most well funded, and organized opponents of you getting civil rights isn’t ignorant, hate, or blindness. It is actually being realistic.

  • Badger88

    @Cam: How is that relevant to what I was discussing? 2eo clearly said that religious groups NEVER defend the rights of humans, so I gave examples to show that his absolute statement was false.

    I never said religion ALWAYS supports the rights of humans, because unlike 2eo, I’m wise enough to not make such universal claims.

  • LadyL

    @Badger88: I’m glad you’re qualifying that, because the mention of Martin Luther King is awkward if we’re talking about gay rights. Bayard Rustin, who taught Dr. King and others so much about the Gandhian principle of non-violent civil disobedience and was the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, was asked to “distance” himself because his open gayness was denounced and seen as a threat to the movement and to King’s image.

  • pauleky

    Sorry, not all of Henley’s stuff was garbage. Just because YOU say it is certainly does not make it so.

    Oh, and fuck WBC.

Comments are closed.