Westboro Baptists Don't Show but Counter-Protesters Ready

Westboro Baptists did not show up at Asbury United Methodist and First Baptist churches in South Whitehall, or two Allentown churches, Sunday morning but counter-protesters were there in case they did.

Update: 10:45 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 20

Westboro Baptists do not show up at First Baptist Church in South Whitehall, which was the group's fourth targeted church in the Lehigh Valley.

South Whitehall Police Lt. John Christman, who is at First Baptist, said, "It’s a non-event. It’s been non-violent. It’s more social than anything."

As for the controversial Westboro Baptists, he said, "I feel fortunate they didn’t show."

Counter-protesters came to First Baptist, as they did to three other churches earlier Sunday, turning out in case Westboro Baptists did show up. Many carried signs against hate.

There were two South Whitehall police cars and several officers at the church location.

Update: 10:20 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 20

Counter-protest group at the Cathedral of St. Catharine in Allentown grows to 50. Among them is a ukulele player and someone dressed as a banana.

Westboro Baptists do not show.

Counter-protesters are traveling to First Baptist Church, which was to be Westboro Baptists last stop. Will Westboro Baptists be there?

Update: 9:30 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 20

Counter-protest group grows to 40 outside Asbury United Methodist Church in South Whitehall.

Westboro Baptists do not show.

Church leaders invite the counter-protesters to use the church facilities and to come in to worship.

South Whitehall Manager Jon Hammer and South Whitehall Police Lt. John Christman are at the scene, which is very peaceful.

Some of the counter-protesters are heading to the Cathedral of St. Catharine in Allentown, where Westboro Baptists also said they would picket. Others are going for breakfast at Nick's Diner in Allentown.

8:45 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 20

About 25 to 30 counter-protesters turn out at St. Paul's Anglican Churh in Allentown Sunday morning in anticipation of the controversial Westboro Baptists arriving to picket.

Westboro Baptists do not show.

But among the counter-protesters are Moravian College students, members of a cigar group and other residents. They carry signs that read "We will not hate" and "Hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love." (from Martin Luther King)

Allentown police are present, driving by the church and parked nearby.

Westboro Baptists had said in a release that they would picket four churches -- two in Allentown and two in South Whitehall -- on Sunday, Jan. 20, claiming the churches had "turned their backs on God’s standards."

First Baptist Church Pastor Chuck Reed had said the church does not support Westboro's views but was not worried about their visit. "We've been praying for them," Reed said. "We're a Biblically driven, local evangelical church...and we just love people. We worship God as a community."

A Westboro press release had listed the following times and locations for the group's activity:

  • 8:30 to 9 a.m.: St Paul's Anglican, 2510 Livingston Street
  • 9:05 to 9:30 a.m.: Asbury United Methodist Church, 1533 Springhouse Road
  • 9:50 to 10 a.m.: Cathedral of St. Catharine, 210 N. 18th Street
  • 10:30 to 11 a.m.: First Baptist Church, 1808 N. 19th Street

By 8:50 a.m., the counter-protesters head to Asbury United Methodist Church in South Whitehall.

Kansas-based Westboro is an independent Baptist church known for its extreme opposition to homosexuality and its protests at military funerals.

An online petition to classify Westboro as a hate group and revoke its federal tax-exempt status has gained close to 74,000 signatures.


Sammy Boy January 20, 2013 at 05:19 PM
mission accomplished for Westboro, media attention, anti-groups wasting their morning and they did not even have to show up....
Sammy Boy January 20, 2013 at 05:20 PM
is this a reference to the person who showed up dressed as a Banana?
Mister Y January 20, 2013 at 06:17 PM
People need to understand that these idiots issue thousands of press releases every year claiming that they will make appearances at churches all across the country; not only for high-profile military, police and firefighter funerals but also for regular sunday services conducted by these churches. They have neither the membership or the financial resources to show to all of the locations which they claim that they will be- they have a hard enough time making the mortgage for their property much less have the money to go everywhere everyday. This press release got exactly what they wanted- attention.
Caroline January 20, 2013 at 10:53 PM
This wasn't a waste of time.Yes,they didn't show,which we kind of figured but we raised some more awareness and met some great people!!!
Awesomeness January 21, 2013 at 12:19 AM
I am not into church but do things for others and is that not what church is an example of. Being there for other and help other less able to. There are different forms of what we all believe in. Let build to help other and embrace others for good not bad. These are reason why our USA is falling apart. Positive people come on.


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