Rainbow house fights WBC with love

Colton Goeffert, Sophie O'Neill, Washburn Review

Last week, local activist Aaron Jackson and his non-profit group, Planting Peace, painted a house in rainbow colors that represent gay pride. The house is located directly across from America’s most controversial church, known for it’s anti-gay protests at high profile and military funerals. 

The house Jackson initially wanted was sold by the time he got around to buying, but luckily, there was another one located on the corner of 12th and SW Orleans streets that “was ideal” for his organization to spread their message. He paid about $83,000 for what he was trying to accomplish. 

In 2004 Aaron Jackson and John Dubai founded Planting Peace in Haiti. After achieving their goal of deworming one million people in Haiti, Planting Peace became more known. They expanded into orphanages then got into human rights in the U.S. 

While Jackson isn’t of homosexual orientation, he’s big on equality and compassion. In 2007, the public voted him a CNN Hero for his charity work in Haiti. Now, Planting Peace plans to combat what Jackson calls “messages of hate” that comes from the followers of Westboro Baptist.

“We think they’re victims of the wrong view and they’re just misinformed,” said Davis Hammet, director of operations for Planting Peace. “And we think it’s really unfortunate that that’s spreadin.” 

Jackson said he plans to use the “Equality House” to raise money for an anti-bullying campaign. By Wednesday afternoon, Planting Peace had already raised more than $22,000.

Planting Peace hopes to raise a $100,000 to kickstart anti-bullying programs. 

“We’re currently using the house to raise money for anti bullying initiatives in K through 12 schools,” said Hammet. “Because of the media attention, we’ve raised about $50,000, so we’re halfway to our goal of $100,000.  With that we’re going to help existing programs as well as create our own deal will bullying issues. 

On their website, the penetratingly anti-gay (pun intended) Westboro Baptist had plenty to say about their new neighbors. 

“We thank God for the sodomite rainbow house…It is right across the street from the only church that loves people enough to tell them the Bible truth about the filthy, soul-damning, nation destroying sin of sodomy. The sodomite rainbow house helps shine a bright spotlight on this!”

Followers of the Westboro church, led by pastor Fred Phelps, believe God is punishing the United States for “the sin of homosexuality” in various ways, including military deaths. They have held up signs that say things such as “Thank God for dead soldiers.” A fallen Marine’s family sued Westboro for picketing at the funeral, alleging invasion of privacy. However, in 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the church’s right to free speech.

“Children are killing themselves because they are hearing a message that they are less than their peers because of their sexual orientation,” said Jackson. “We want to counter that message. Where better to start it than next door to Westboro Baptist Church?”