Metro Weekly

Rockville clergy counter Westboro’s “message of hate”

Twinbrook Baptist Church rallies faith leaders as controversial church pickets Rockville High School

A protester from the Westboro Baptist Church pickets outside of Rockville High School on Nov. 10, 2015 (Photo: Westboro Baptist Church, via Twitter).
A protester from the Westboro Baptist Church pickets outside of Rockville High School on Nov. 10, 2015 (Photo: Westboro Baptist Church, via Twitter).

“At Twinbrook Baptist Church we practice the love Jesus spoke about in the Gospels,” Rev. Jill McCrory said in a press release put out over the past weekend. “There is no room for hate in Jesus’ proclamation of love.”

McCrory, the pastor of Twinbrook Baptist Church, sent out the statement in anticipation of a scheduled protest by the Westboro Baptist Church that was held outside of Rockville High School in Montgomery County Tuesday morning. 

“I got an email from the Gay-Straight Alliance at Rockville [High School] last Sunday that alerted me to Westboro’s press release,” McCrory says. “I knew we had to have some response because we are the Baptist Church across the street from the school. The principal had put out a request that the students and parents and neighborhood ignore the protesters. So I wanted to honor that, but I also knew we had to do something.”

In their press release, Westboro did not give a reason for their decision to picket Rockville High School, although it did mention reasons for picketing other places in the D.C. area, including the Pentagon and Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., citing the Obama administration’s defense of LGBT rights, including his decision to lift the ban on transgender service, and the existence of a Gay-Straight Alliance at Churchill, respectively.

“The children of Doomed america (sic) have been subjected to cruel treatment by the adults, and the results are horrid,” Westboro said in its release announcing the picket at Rockville High. “They have been taught life is disposable…They have been taught that God’s standard of one man, one woman, for life is a ridiculous joke that doesn’t take into account their need for exploration and empowerment…And now they are in deep and dire distress. Depression, anxiety, suicide gestures, promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. — these are the norms…. And so, Lord willing, WBC will travel to Rockville, Maryland, to earnestly warn the young people at Rockville High School that the God of Eternity is the same; He changes not; His standards remain, and will be the standards applied on that Great and Terrible Day of Judgment soon coming.”

Knowing that the Westboro picketers were coming with their messages of intolerance, McCrory suggested to fellow clergy from the area that they show up at Rockville High School and offer a testament to God’s love. 

“We wanted to be a witness of love in the face of the hate message that comes from Westboro,” McCrory says. “And that’s what we did. We’re soaking wet, but that’s what we did!”

In total, McCrory says about 30 people showed up to counter the Westboro protesters. Twinbrook opened its doors so that students and community members could stop by and find a place away from the negativity spewed by Westboro if they so desired.

“I thought it was important to show that it wasn’t just one Baptist church showing the love and affirmation, but that we invited the clergy and congregations around us to show their love as well,” McCrory says. “The clergy here in Rockville, we work together. Many of us are part of Community Ministries of Rockville, and their staff was here this morning as well. And so we work together and cooperate together, and that’s important. And they supported us, just as we were supporting the neighborhood.”

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