When three members of Westboro Baptist Church—a church in Topeka, Kans., known for its harsh anti-LGBTQ beliefs—came to protest at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., on Monday morning, November 18, the Friends Center on campus had organized a response that drew over 200 participants.
“Many groups responded to our invitation,” said C. Wess Daniels, director of the Friends Center at Guilford College, a collaborative endeavor between the school and the Religious Society of Friends. “Greensboro clergy and interfaith community; local Quakers; the Parasol Patrol; Guilford College students, staff, and faculty. Together we created a barrier of love, between the Westboro Baptist protestors and our campus that was meant to symbolize love and support for our LGBTQ campus community members.
“As much as I disagree with Westboro Baptist’s message,” Daniels continued, “they are operating under the guise of Christianity. It is our office’s responsibility to respond to that.” Evelyn Jadin, the Friends Center’s multifaith coordinator and chaplain, also helped organize and direct the counter-demonstration.
Westboro Baptist Church members frequently travel to educational institutions in every state to publicly preach their message because they believe “those places are hotbeds for teaching and supporting this [homosexual] lifestyle,” according to one of the church’s elders who spoke with the High Point Enterprise.
Earlier the same morning, a small Westboro Baptist group protested at High Point Central High School in High Point, N.C., and later at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Duke University School of Law in Durham, N.C. Each protest was scheduled to last 30 minutes, and each one was met with a much larger crowd of counter protesters.
Guilford College, founded by Quakers in 1837, is home to the Bayard Rustin Center for LGBTQIA+ Activism, Education, and Reconciliation, a space dedicated to affirming the lives, histories, and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming, queer, questioning, intersex, and allied students, faculty, and staff at Guilford and beyond.