VIDEO PHOTOS House across from Westboro Baptist Church painted rainbow colors

Rainbow House across the street from Westboro Baptist Church

The Westboro Baptist Church is basically a Bible-based hate group known for its attempts to shock the nation — picketing military funerals, protesting the United States Holocaust Memorial museum, calling President Barack Obama the “Antichrist,” and most recently attempting to protest a vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting to name a few — but this time, they were the ones receiving quite a shock. The church is most infamous for it’s condemnation of homosexuals, so imagine their surprise when they found out “straight ally” Aaron Jackson had purchased the house right across the street from their Topeka, Kansas headquarters and was painting it the rainbow colors of the Gay Pride Flag!

Rainbow Equality House across from Westboro Baptist Church

Jackson is one of the founders of Planting Peace, a progressive nonprofit organization that aims to spread “peace in a hurting world.” Jackson’s efforts were inspired by Josef Miles, the 10-year-old boy who counter-protested the church’s protesting efforts by holding up a sign that read, “God Hates No One.” Jackson had never heard of the Westboro Baptist Church before hearing of that story and decided to use Google Earth to locate the church. It was then that he noticed that the house across the street was for sale. Suddenly, Jackson had an idea. He told the Advocate, “I feel the Westboro Baptist Church is the poster child… that’s pushing inequality… So I thought the best place to start was to counter the Westboro Baptist Church’s message.”

Here’s a video report from CNN’s Jeanne Moos:

The newly-painted house is intended to be turned into “The Equality House,” which will be a drop-in center that supports LBGT rights and anti-bullying efforts to end teen suicide. He has been living in the house for the past month and a half while the project was being kept under wraps. By Wednesday, however, hundreds of people and news media outlets from around the country came to see the house, which debuted its new Gay Pride Flag colors earlier this week. Jackson told TIME, “Usually people come here to check out the Church… now the attention is on this house.”

Jackson told the Huffington Post, “We want this house to be a message that where there’s hate, there’s also love. But we also want to raise awareness and capital, and we want to put all that money into creating and sustaining anti-bullying programs, along with supporting anti-bullying programs that already exist… Beyond the symbolic message of the home, [the house] will be utilized by volunteers to live here, and these volunteers will work on promoting equality anywhere in the world and managing these anti-bullying initiatives that we plan on creating.”

The Westboro Baptist Church has responded with seeming gaiety (pardon the pun): daughter of church founder Fred Phelps, Shirley Phelps-Roper said, of the house, “I love it… What he does is he keeps the eyes of the whole earth on this message. Now everyday all people are thinking about is God will not have same sex marriage.”

The majority of houses in the neighborhood are owned by church members. Jackson said that he encountered Shirley before he painted the house; he said that she was nice to him and they shared a laugh. He also said he’s seen members of the church photographing the house, including top-ranking church member, Steve Drain, whose daughter, Lauren Drain, recently wrote a book about her decision to leave the church and who suggests that Fred Phelps himself could possibly be gay. The church may be grinning and bearing it now, but Time reports, “Jackson said he’s confident that the church is already wary of his presence and may be expecting some sort of action from him.”

The Equality House is accepting donations to their anti-bullying initiative program that aims to decrease teen suicide. Visit their site for more information.

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  • Ally

    I love this! But at the same time I can’t help but think that this is not going to end very well. I hope not though.

    • Heather

      I love it too! But I don’t think making it a drop in center is a good idea. I wouldn’t want to be gay walking out of that house in a neighborhood full of those people.

      • Ally

        I agree! Heck I’m straight and I would not even wanna be anywhere near that neighborhood!

  • LexiconD1

    Ha Ha, suck on that Westboro. I’ve seen this all over the net. Sometimes homophobic judgmental hypocrites like these reap every bit of what they’ve sown.

  • Kara

    I love the message, but he’s still giving them what they want: attention. Now one of them can go on tv and talk about how they feel about it and spread their garbage some more. I wish everyone would just ignore them.

    • Jordan Bell

      I completely disagree. There are some things in life that we should not sit down and tolerate or ignore. There have been quite a few members leave that church. I refuse to believe that us “normal” people didn’t have at least a little something to do with them leaving. People are innately good. If you can save just a few children from that church, and implant/reinforce the idea in their head that “This is wrong. Hate is wrong. Love is right.” Then it’s worth it.

  • Maiko Higa

    Love it!

  • DeeDeDee

    A local new station posted this article to their facebook page and a lady commented back with this,”Just because somebody doesn’t tolerate something, doesn’t mean they’re spreading hate. And great, now I can’t dress my daughters in stuff with rainbows on it because people will think she’s a homosexual.” Yes, she REALLY said that.