Westboro Baptist Church begins protests in Grand Strand

By Kaylin Krashesky - bio | email

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Westboro Baptist Church made their way to the Grand Strand and held three protests on Saturday.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, her four sons and her niece were out standing by the road holding up signs and singing songs in protest. Their message is direct, and they insist on being heard.

"Our main reason for coming is because your destruction is imminent, imminent," said Shirley.

"You see what I'm doing- I'm standing here and every car going by, this is called do you know what this is called?" she said. "This is not just a warning, this is binding."

Though not everyone wanted to hear the message her family was preaching. Sabrina Hilliard followed the group to all three protests to stand there and represent a different opinion.

"I hope that the people that are passing and aren't getting out of their cars realize that there are people that don't think like those people do," Hilliard said.

"It's great that we live in a world where people can say whatever they want," she said. "But it's sad that people would actually say the things that they say."

She believes their voices made a difference, "I think some people are just trying to have the thought that if they are not around then they'll go away faster and that's fine and good but we're not here spewing or screaming at them," she said. "We're just standing here looking at them and saying you know what we're standing here and we're telling you that we don't want you here, but we're not saying it. I think some people are just trying to avoid the controversy ."

A North Carolina church youth group is staying at a house  across from one of the protest locations- and they used an alternate approach. The group of girls stood in a circle, held hands and prayed and sang hymns.

"We just wanted to show love by being here," said church member Gianna Stutzeman. Stutzeman, who doesn't believe it was a coincidence. "I know that God put us here," she said. "And if we're here and following what He wants us to do, He's going to use it for something."

The Westboro members have a firm response to those who disagree with their message.  "We don't care about what they have to say," said Zach Phelps-Roper.

Group leader Shirley says they aren't scared and they aren't going anywhere. "Threaten us? Are you kidding me? Right out of Myrtle Beach?"

The group says they have protested all over the country every day for the past 19 years.

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