After announcing our intent to visit the Equality House in Topeka, KS we were asked by many – “Why we would you want to include a stop at The Westboro Baptist Church on our revival tour?” Some even suggested that we would only be adding to the already steady stream of undeserved publicity that has surrounded the hate speech and actions of this “church”. Others worried we would be putting ourselves in harm’s way.
So let me offer a point of clarification. AWAB is NOT visiting WBC or Rev. Fred Phelps. We ARE visiting The Equality House. We are committing ourselves to a joyful day filled with peace and fellowship. This is a true and important extension to the core reason we have embarked on this tour. We want the world to know that there are many Baptists in this country that embrace the teaching that everyone is a beloved child of God. This little house painted in the vibrant colors of the rainbow is not a political statement. It is not a media ploy nor is it a protest. It is a proclamation of peace. We are supporting Planting Peace in its efforts to move people’s attention away from hate and towards love and acceptance.
During yesterday’s stop at Kirkwood Baptist Church in St. Louis, MO I was given a true gift that washed away any misgiving I may have had about our stop in Topeka today. A beautiful and expressive person I will call “Gray” had learned of our dinner and fellowship plans at Kirkwood via Twitter. "Gray" called the church to make certain that the tweet was legit.
- Was it true?
- Are there REALLY Welcoming & Affirming Baptist Churches?
- Will I REALLY be able to unite my gay self and who I am as a Christian without fear or judgment?
Although Topeka may seem like the most sensational stop on our tour I do not agree! Is it an important one? Of course! If by loving my enemy in this very public way I am able to reach just one person who is seeking a church that will welcome and love them exactly how God created them I am proud to do it! And whatever attention we get only helps us spread the Good News of God’s Love that much more!
Who knows what we will encounter at this stop. What I do know is that every stop carries with it the responsibility to do everything we can to advocate for love and acceptance of the LGBTQ community. I am proud to be a part of this tour because I am afforded an opportunity to raise my voice and be a witness to God’s inclusive love for all, even the members of the Westboro Baptist Church.