The Westboro Baptist Church is probably the most deplorable congregation of people ever to walk the face of the Earth. They do nothing but spew hate speech and manipulate the minds of the ignorant and the young. What they preach doesn’t even make sense—but that doesn’t matter and this article isn’t about WBC. This article is about Aaron Jackson.
Aaron Jackson is the co-founder of Planting Peace, a non-profit aimed at providing sustainable initiatives to impoverished areas. Jackson says he was looking up the “church” on Google Earth when he noticed a ‘for sale’ sign on the house across the street from the “church” headquarters. That’s when he decided to buy it.
Planting Peace purchased the home and moved into the neighborhood. “[Westboro owns] the majority of the homes in the community, and I walk through the area every day, and I see them running in between each other’s houses,” Jackson said. “One day I was walking, and Shirley Phelps [one of Westboro's main spokespeople and the daughter of the church's leader, Fred Phelps] was on her four-wheeler. And I said, ‘Hey guys, how are you?’ And [she and her husband] responded, ‘Oh, we’re good. How are you?’ We had a short conversation, and she was extremely nice, and she made a joke and we all laughed.”
Shirley Phelps probably wasn’t laughing when Jackson decided to spruce up the house he bought. He decided to paint the exterior—not a strange thing to do when you purchase a home—but Jackson decided to paint the house a rainbow and use the home for LGBT rights headquarters. “The reason I haven’t gotten into the gay rights activism is because, in a sense, it’s almost silly — it’s 2013, are we really still in this position? It just seems ludicrous,” said Jackson. “But it is a real issue and kids are killing themselves. I’ve wanted to do something, and I knew when I saw that house for sale that it all came together. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a little crazy and there’s no red tape in my charity. When I want to do something, I do it.”
“We want this house to be a message that where there’s hate, there’s also love. But we also want to raise awareness and capital, and we want to put all that money into creating and sustaining anti-bullying programs, along with supporting anti-bullying programs that already exist,” he said. “Beyond the symbolic message of the home, [the house] will be utilized by volunteers to live here, and these volunteers will work on promoting equality anywhere in the world and managing these anti-bullying initiatives that we plan on creating.”
Jackson says he’s already noticed members of the church coming by to take pictures.