Communities React To Westburo Baptist Church Planned Protests - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Communities React To Westburo Baptist Church Planned Protests

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BOZEMAN -

The Westburo Baptist Church is coming to Bozeman next month.

Church members will be picketing at Montana State University and Bozeman High School because they don't feel students are getting enough education about God and the bible in school.

It will happen September 9.

The Westburo Baptist Church holds protests across the country, most of them opposing the homosexual lifestyle.

They have also picketed funerals of veterans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the pickets in Bozeman will highlight what students don't get in the classroom, the message of God.

"Specifically lies they've been taught," said Rachel Hockenbargeer, Westburo Baptist Church.  "It's ok to be gay, god love everyone and there you go, you can live anyway you want to and there aren't any consequences."

ABC FOX Montana talked to several M.S.U. students who disagree with the church's message.

"Them coming to M.S.U. I think is a mistake," said Bryan Gonzalez, M.S.U. senior.  "They are just going to get maligned and yelled at for most of the time they are here. They are going to make a situation that doesn't exist here into something into something highly charged."

 "I think they are out of line in it," said Ashley Bayn-Prish.  "I don't think that what goes on in Bozeman really affects them at all and they should really just learn to accept everybody."

The Westburo Baptist Church said they aren't surprised students don't want them to come.

"Don't care.  Didn't ask them for their permission," said Hockenbargeer.  "The world is our parish, we don't need permission to preach to you. And it isn't shocking nor should it be they are not to thrilled that we're coming."

Meanwhile, Rob Watson, Bozeman Public Schools Superintendent said the protestors aren't allowed on schools grounds, but are allowed on the public sidewalks surrounding the school. 

He said they are taking steps to keep students safe.

"Because it is on a public sidewalk, we are working with law enforcement so I know there will be a police presence at the protests," said Watson.

A protest like this is unusual for Bozeman.

Hockenbargeer said people should be grateful they are coming.

"Anyone who has the privilege of seeing these words, laying eyes on the prophets of God on this nation in these last days needs to count themselves blessed," said Hockenbargeer. "What ought to be happening is people need to be asking why don't we get to have that."

The protest at Montana State University will be from 2:30 to 3 p.m. and at Bozeman High School 3:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

ABC FOX Montana learned there are plans for at least one counter protest to the Westburo Baptist Church on September 9.

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