Duke students talk about event planned near campus by Westboro Baptist Church

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Sunday, Duke University student Jake Nash learned about a planned event by the Westboro Baptist Church near campus set for Monday afternoon.

“It’s so against what we stand for at Duke,” Nash said. “I think they shouldn’t be on campus [or] close to campus at all.”

The group has held thousands of demonstrations in cities across the country.

Duke officials said Westboro Baptist asked about holding a demonstration on campus, and was told outside groups are not allowed to hold demonstrations on school property.

Duke Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations Michael Schoenfeld, released this statement:

“We are resolute in our support for respect and inclusion for all members of the Duke community. These are part of our core values, and we deplore any efforts to intimidate individuals through demonstrations of hatred, bias and homophobia.”

Westboro Baptist told CBS 17 they’ll set up at the corner of Erwin Road and Towerview Road Monday at noon.

The group released this statement to CBS 17 Sunday night, ahead of the planned event:

“The Lord willing Westboro Baptist Church will bring the Gospel of Peace to Duke University! We hope some souls will hear the words and by the mercy of Jesus Christ will be compelled to flee the wrath that IS coming upon the whole earth. If yes, YEA! If not, YEA! But be very clear neighbors, God Almighty will never have same-sex marriage and all the rest of the proud sins that saturate America. God is not going to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah! This nation is on a short path to destruction. The Lord WILL return in great power and wrath to execute judgment upon those that know not God and that obey not this gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Westboro Baptist Church has been outspoken on issues, including homosexuality, even calling it on their website, “the sin that is at the forefront of the moral crisis in this nation and world.”

For Nash, he believes the group makes people feel unsafe.

“It’s extremely personal,” he said. “I know they hate gay people, and I’m gay myself.”

Duke sophomore Belle Allmendinger is with the group, Blue Devils United, a student organization focusing on LGBTQ issues.

“I do identify as queer, so, I’m part of that community that the Westboro Baptist Church seeks to spew hate about,” Allmendinger said.

She said Blue Devils United and other groups signed a letter of solidarity, instead of choosing to counter-protest. 

“We just don’t want to give them the time of day,” Allmendinger said. “We didn’t want them to see such a large opposition, because it would then just fuel their fire.”

Allmendinger told CBS 17 the letter also includes resources to help students.

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