Hundreds picket church group protest

Protestors with the Westboro Baptist Church are an anti-war, anti-gay group.

A group of picketers was met with heavy opposition at the Statehouse Tuesday. Members of an anti-war, anti-gay group known for delivering messages of hatred, were met with opposition.

Nearly 200 protesters rallied against four members of the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church. The church group was in the Capital City with a personal message to the state.

"We're here because God hates South Carolina," said church member Shirley Phelps-Roper. "He's cursed this state with a Governor who teaches adultery."

On the other side of the picket line were people like Midlands Tech student Dillon Corbett, who considers some of the church's anti-war and anti-gay messages a personal attack.

"It all angers me," said Corbett. "I'm a gay man, and my boyfriend is an Iraq war vet, so I have ties in there."

Some counter-demonstrators hope the church will start practicing free speech without the hate.

"I feel like he's really not understanding the truth of the Gospel and this is not the Gospel," said protester Amanda Ferres.

"People don't care what you have to say, until they can see that you care," said protester Domonique Turnipseed. "I want to show them that I care by listening to what they have to say, and trying to understand their argument before I critique it."

Despite the church's controversial messages, Midlands residents like Gypsy Barrientos say the demonstration has left a lasting impression.

"I'm just proud," said Barrientos. "It's like all of this love is like, beating down the hatred and it's really inspiring to me. It kind of makes me want to change the world."

The protest ended without incident.