‘God Loves Gays’ billboard taunts Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka

A billboard taunting the Westboro Baptist Church was unveiled in Topeka, Kansas, on Monday, with the message “God Loves Gays.”

An online campaign to pay for the billboard, launched last month by the satirical “God” Facebook page, has raised more than $82,000 — enough to keep the billboard up through March 2015. The campaign plans to roll out similar ads on Topeka buses, and hopes to buy billboards in other locations, including Washington, D.C., Dallas and Salt Lake City.

The Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church is notorious for picketing the funerals of U.S. soldiers with antigay signs that claim the deaths are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.

“This hate group goes around saying that God hates gay people,” says “God” in a YouTube video introducing the billboard project. “Nonsense! I love gay people.”

In response, Westboro tweeted a photo of an alternative billboard.

The “God Loves Gays” billboard follows a string of creative counterprotests against the controversial group.

In March, Westboro Baptist Church protesters demonstrating outside of a Lorde concert in Kansas City, Missouri, were met with an unusual counterprotest. Two days after the death of Westboro’s founding pastor, Fred Phelps, about 20 members of the church — holding signs that read “God Hates Sluts,” among other messages — were greeted by demonstrators with banners that read “Sorry for your loss” and “Live your life and be awesome.”

“It wasn’t so much about antagonizing them,” Megan Coleman, who helped create one of the counterprotest signs, told KSHB-TV at the time. “We are here for people who need that message and need that positivity.”

Last year, a 5-year-old girl set up a lemonade stand across the street from Westboro’s headquarters, raising more than $10,000 for Topeka’s Equality House in the name of peace.

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Eric Write head editor and chief at The Pluto Daily