Editor's Note: Guest blogger AJ Dick lives in Indianapolis with her husband of almost 12 years, Dillan, their dog Cedar, and two cats, Emma and Gato. When AJ isn't protesting in the rain, she likes to crochet, read, watch TV with her hubby, and hang out with her friends and kids. She is also a member of the Indianapolis Congregation of the Community of Christ and believes that true Christianity is a faith of love, hope, faith, kindness, humility, gentleness, and grace.
My favorite scripture in the Bible is found at John 15:12, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." And, when I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, my favorite song was (and still is) "As I Have Loved You". So, when I hear of people using the message of Christ to harm people, it breaks my heart.
For the past week, my friends and I have been talking about the Westboro Baptist Church ("WBC") coming to Indianapolis, IN to protest at a couple of Jewish locations and also at North Central High School. The Jewish locations, The Jewish Post & Opinion and the Jewish Community Center ("JCC") (they also had a Phelps-a-thon of their own), were being protested against because they are Jewish and according the Fred Phelps, the leader of the WBC, "Jews killed Jesus" and that the Jewish people are killing more Jews than the holocaust did.
I decided last week that I would go to the protest at the Jewish Post & Opinion to counter-protest because I currently work near there and could do the protest on my lunch hour. I know that some of the other people I know were thinking of going to either the JCC or North Central High School to counter-protest. I sent out reminders everyday to let people know about it because I wanted to show Fred Phelps that he can't boss Indianapolis around.
A couple of my kids were planning on coming with me, but they couldn't because of previous obligations. My kids have always been awesome in my life and they were there for me when my husband, Dillan, was serving overseas in Iraq. (My hubby is trans and the military doesn't know.) They kept me sane and reminded me everyday of how much they love me.
So, last night, I found the sign that I used at the Prop 8 protest earlier this year and took it to work with me. My sign has 4 different parts to it. One side of the sign has 2 different scriptures and the other has lyrics to 2 verses of "Jesus Loves Me" and "Homosexuals and Homosexual Couples in the Bible". I guess I like fighting "fire with fire".
I let my work know where I was going for my lunch today and they were so cool about it. I wasn't sure because I haven't been working there very long and it's only a temp job.
I headed out at 1:00 p.m. to the Jewish Post & Opinion because the WBC was supposed to be protesting from 1:15 p.m.-1:45 p.m. It rained for my entire walk there and my feet were soaked. I didn't care, though, because I knew that I was doing the right thing.
When I got to where the WBC was protesting, I noticed that one of the officers scheduled was a member of my church congregation. I am a member of the Community of Christ, Indianapolis Congregation. I walked up to him and said hi. He knew I would be coming because his wife is one of my friends on Facebook, which is one of the places I was posting about the protests.
I asked him where I should stand because I was the only person there counter-protesting. He showed me where I could stand and made me feel safe and like I wasn't an idiot for being the only person to counter-protest at this location.
I started crying because I was so moved by his care and concern. My hubby and I only recently joined this congregation and we have been shown nothing but love, kindness, acceptance, and grace. I know that his being there was in God's plan.
So, I stood there in the rain with my little sign and just watched these people carry their signs of hate, signs that Jesus would never be proud of.
Slowly, people started coming up to me to read my sign. I had one girl tell me that I was right when she saw the "Jesus Loves Me" part of my sign. I had a guy come up and ask me to see both sides. These two people actually got it.
Then, Heather (well, I think that's her name) from the Homewood Suites across from the WBC protest came up to me and asked what was going on. I explained to her why the WBC was there and why I was there. She stood and talked to me, asked questions, and said she was going to stay outside in the rain with me until they left. One of her co-workers, Cho, was there, too. He looked a little confused at first, but he was totally getting by the time the WBC left.
Heather asked me why the WBC got police protection, that it was a waste of money and that they didn't deserve it. I explained to her that even though I cannot stand for what the WBC stands for, I have to support their right to free speech. My husband fought for this right and thanks to him, I get to have my freedom of speech to counter them.
When the WBC left, I thanked Heather and Cho for standing with me. They stood with me without even knowing me. They stood with me because they didn't believe in the words of Jesus being used to spread hate and lies. This moved me beyond what words can describe. I got their pictures and headed back to work.
I was on such an emotional high. I never thought that going to protest the WBC would leave me feeling so good, so right, but it did. I knew that I made a difference today, even if was small. I am still on that high as I write this from home.
Never in my life could I imagine standing up like this. I have always been afraid to. But then the lyrics from my favorite Mormon hymn comes to me:
"As I have loved you
Love one another
This new commandment
Love one another
By this shall men know
Ye are my disciples
If ye have love one to another."
I will try everyday to keep this in my heart for I truly believe that Jesus loves us all, no matter the color of our skin, no matter our gender, and no matter who we love. He gets it and I hope that someday, we, as humans, will get it, too.