A Christian university in Nashville, Tenn., is bracing for a Halloween visit by the notoriously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan.
The independent Baptist church which has been protesting the acceptance of homosexuality since 1991 announced on its website that church members will preach “in religious protest and warning” Oct. 31 at Belmont University, a private Christian school until 2007 affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
The announcement referenced Belmont Bridge Builders, an LGBT support group recognized as a student organization in 2011 following a lengthy debate about a women’s soccer coach allegedly fired because she revealed to players she was a lesbian and her same-sex partner was pregnant.
Bridge Builders president Hope Gipson told the Tennessean that if administrators are unable to stop the demonstrators from coming to the school, Bridge Builders will lead a prayer circle when the picketers arrive on campus.
“College is hard enough without hate groups protesting your identity and who you are,” Gipson said.
While in Nashville Westboro Baptist Church members said they plan to also picket at Vanderbilt University — protesting the university’s use of non-binary pronouns when addressing students who self-identify as gender non-conforming — and at OutCentral, an LGBT center serving the greater Nashville area.