Members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church showed up to picket at a Seattle-area military base last week, but were confronted with an unusual counter-protest: dozens of people dressed as zombies.
Eight members of the church, known for frequently picketing military funerals and other events as a protest against the progression of gay rights, found themselves confronted with the counter-protest while picketing outside of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Friday. The playful counter-protest was launched by Spanaway, Wash., resident Melissa Neace, who spread the word of her idea on Facebook.
"We wanted to turn something negative around, into something people could laugh at and poke fun at," Neace told The News Tribune. "It was the easiest way to divert attention from something so hateful."
The Facebook group that Neace launched was called "Zombie'ing Westboro Baptist Church AWAY from Fort Lewis!" Soon after its launch the group gained hundreds of members, with many coming out on Friday to let their opposition to Westboro's position be known.
Though it's unclear exactly what was officially being protested by the Westboro picketers, who are known for their extreme ideologies, a quote announcing their plan appeared on the group's website, godhatesfags.com.
"When you goofy, unthankful, flag-worshipping fools decided that you would declare war against the Lord and against His anointed, you put yourselves in the cross-hairs of a raging mad God. We will come to tell you a few things, to wit," it read.
Picketers dressed as zombies on Friday said that their affiliations with their military and what they called the church's "hateful" message prompted them to come out to the counter-protest.
"I come from a long line of military, including my husband. So if they're going to protest my troops, I'm going to protect my first amendment and protest them," Ashlee Nerad told KIRO.
Westboro's next picketing is tomorrow at the funeral of Army Sgt. Erik N. May in Valley Center Christian Church in Valley Center, Kan., according to their website. Sgt. May died in Afghanistan on July 14 while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, according to The Associated Press.