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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Anti-gay group targets ELCA schools

Fifteen anti-gay protesters from Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, Kan., picketed the Nordic Choir of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, as it performed Feb. 6 at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kan.

The group, led by nationally known anti-gay pastor Fred Phelps, travels the country protesting at events. They picketed the Luther concert because of the ELCA's churchwide discussion of homosexuality.

Phelps and the protesters, most of whom were his family, carried signs that read "God hates fags" and "ELCA Lutheran Fag Church."

More than 100 choir supporters surrounded the church, held hands and conducted a silent counterprotest. Students from Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, were among the supporters.

Since then Phelps has announced he will protest Wartburg's commencement ceremonies May 21.

Wartburg officials are adopting a wait-and-see attitude, said Linda Moeller, the school's director of communication and marketing. "Our director of security has made some initial contacts ... to see what the parameters are and what areas are off-limits to this group. We haven't made an actual plan."

In addition, Phelp's group plans to picket commencement at Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, May 14 and the ELCA youth event, Gathering 2000, in St. Louis, July 5.


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