On Thursday June 20th we made a visit to the Equality House in Topeka, Kansas. This is the house that Planting Peace founder Aaron Jackson bought (which sits directly across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church) to counter the message of hate that the WBC has become famous for.
As Jodi and I drove in to Topeka we were met with signs reminding us that this is the town where Brown vs. Board of Education was fought. This watershed Civil Rights decision that said separate is NOT equal. The 1951, a class action suit was filed against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. The plaintiffs were thirteen Topeka parents on behalf of their twenty children. I could not help but be stunned by the moment in which we found ourselves this week - awaiting the US Supreme Cout's decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA just as we rolled into Topeka on Thursday.
But what became a more poignant moment for me that day was the stream of people - gay and straight alike - who made a pilgrimage to this house as a way to find peace amidst the turmoil that is all too common in the lives of LGBTQI/SGL people and our allies. There were waves and honking from passers by as well as the couples coming from Ohio, Indiana, and other states where their lives are still illegal in one way or another. This separate and unequal reality was somehow loosed when these Children of God stepped onto the Rainbow House property and realized that there is more love and joy in this world as opposed to the hate that Westboro Baptist Church has elevated to a religion.
This moment for me was an Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-35) moment.
Exodus International had just announced their decision to shut down and Alan Chambers had apologized for the mean and hurtful, death-dealing things that that EI was responsible for. The Social Security System had just announced that changing a gender marker was acceptable. And now a lesbian wedding was going to happen across from the Westboro Church!
“Are you the only one visiting Topeka who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
God's way of human reality bending ever more toward justice was being seen and felt in that very moment and I saw the eyes of those pilgrims opening to the love that is all around us no matter what Fred Phelps and his kind believe.
So today, as we make our way back over to the Equality House (because I will be officiating the wedding!) I know that regardless of what the American Baptists, Southern Baptists, National or any other Baptist bodies say, the day is coming when everyone who is still far off will say,