Just one day after University of Massachusetts sophomore and basketball starter Derrick Gordon announced in an ESPN interview that he is gay, controversial Westboro Baptist Church, known for its radical methods, tweeted on Thursday that its members will travel to Amherst to protest at the university. The announcement was tweeted in English and Spanish.
The controversial group has not yet announced the date and time of its protest. Established in 1955 under the late Fred Phelps, the Westboro Baptist Church has been formed as an independent organization, and has become known as an extremist group, recognized for its protests that tell people how much God hates them.
Although a majority of Christians believe that the Bible teaches homosexuality is a sin, the group is not supported by any mainstream Christian group, and both liberals and conservatives have rebuked the group's methods, which include telling mourning victims of disasters that God sends natural disasters to specific cities as a punishment for their sins. The church has become known for their radical protests against homosexuals as well as at the funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty.
Members of the group were recently chased out of an Oklahoma town during a protest, but that has not discouraged them, and they now plan to head to the University of Massachusetts to protest African-American college athlete Derrick Gordon for his announcement.
In a statement on Thursday, the University of Massachusetts voiced support for Gordon who is one of their top athletes. "UMass is proud to have Derrick Gordon as a member of our athletic family and to honor his courage and openness as a gay student-athlete," athletic director John McCutcheon said in a written statement. "UMass is committed to creating a welcoming climate where every student-athlete, coach and staff member can be true to themselves as they pursue their athletic, academic and professional goals."
Some reports have pointed out that the group often announces protests and pickets, but in many instances no members actually turn up to carry out the protest.