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WBC protesters didn't show up for play in Hastings

Westboro Baptist Church planned Sunday afternoon to protest the showing of the school's winter play, "The Laramie Project," but never showed up.

The play is a collection of interviews conducted in Laramie, Wyo., where Matthew Shepard was beaten and left to die. The incident attracted national media attention, and was characterized as a hate crime against Shepard, who was a homosexual.

So, where were the protesters?

Shirley Phelps-Roper, a spokesperson for Westboro Baptist Church said that, in this case, another picketing opportunity took priority. It was the funeral of Texas' longest-serving Supreme Court member, Joe Greenhill, which was held Tuesday.

"Time is running out, and we're trying to get everywhere and do everything," Phelps-Roper said.

Along with finding a higher-profile event to picket, WBC decided to abandon its Hastings protest because of the huge stand against them.

"We were getting so much e-mail from those little rebels up there at the school that there was absolutely no question that they were fully versed on what we were doing," Phelps-Roper said.

The stand at HHS sent a clear message. Counter-protesters said they would not tolerate WBC. But when a community turns out in such high numbers, it tells WBC that those people have rejected God's commandments.

"Some of these places that are so evil, they're not going to get these words," Phelps-Roper said.

In a way, the counter-protest serves as evidence that WBCs anti-homosexual message is reaching people.

"The reality - we're just a little bitty church... and we make everyone stand up and take notice," Phelps-Roper said.

Even though WBC didn't physically show up at the protest, their message was there, she said, and the proof was in the numbers that turned out to resist it.

"We were there, because they were there," she said.