Westboro Baptist Church plans picket at WIU football game

MACOMB, Illinois — The Westboro Baptist Church planned to picket at a Western Illinois University football game.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church,  which describes themselves as an “old school” Baptist Church aimed at preaching against sin, planned to picket before a football game, Saturday, November 17, according to a picketing schedule on their website.  The demonstration was set for 11:45 a.m., before WIU’s game against Indiana State University.

In their statement about coming to WIU’s football game, the church called out a player from Indiana State who has come out as openly gay.  The statement called on Bain to “keep his filthy manner of life out of the public eye” and “put that rebellion away and never look back.”

On November 7, Western Illinois University sent out a notice about the Westboro Baptist Church’s upcoming demonstration.  The university’s statement said they don’t  “support their rhetoric” or “condone the the views or speech by this group” but that they were taking measures to ensure “the organization can safely express their views.”

In December of 2017, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch highlighted Bain’s success on the field and his fundamental place in the community.  He said after he started telling people about his sexual orientation, players from opposing teams would give him grief.  However, he noted the exceptional support he received from his friends, teammates, family and community.

“For the first time in my life I could finally be true to myself — I owed it to myself to be me,” Jake said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch report. “I also felt like I owed it to everyone out there who was in the same position — and felt lost and alone like I did.”

“At Western, we value and support our LGBTQIA+ community, and an inclusive environment for all members of the University community,” said WIU’s statement.

Another email from the university stated the group will not be protesting near Hanson Field, but will likely remain in one spot that is “not close” to the game.

At the same time, students at the university will hold a Rally for Love, which will be in a different location from the protest. Macomb police will help ensure the safety of the community and all members involved.

The Westboro Baptist Church also planned to picket in Quincy on Sunday, November 18; the Madison Park Christian Church West Workship Center at 8:15 a.m. and St. Peter Catholic Church at 9 a.m.