A Letter to: Westboro Baptist Church (Signed, UMass)

Dear Westboro Baptist Church,

Hey gang. Don’t want to take too much time away from your picket schedule, because I know it’s really important and beneficial to society. Us folks over here at UMass heard about your plans to petition a super talented member of our UMass family, Mr. Derrick Gordon. We’re not so sure you want to do that. It’s the zoo you’re dealing with here. This is a reputable, flagship university with a lot of...merriment and heart (that thing that you’re lacking). Let me carefully explain why your kind isn’t exactly welcome in our community.

UMass has over 22,000 students from over 70 countries around the world. And yes, Westboro Baptist Church, that means that there are people of different religions living harmoniously in a single community. There is a strong LGBTQ program on campus alongside several organized religious groups ranging from Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim to Jewish, Pagan, Christian, and more. There are even atheists in our midst. It’s a wonder our campus hasn’t been struck by lightning, right?

How do people with contradicting beliefs live peacefully side-by-side? It’s called tolerance. Write this word down, because it’s important, and clearly has never been articulated to you before. Tolerance occurs when you have respect for someone’s decision, even if it isn’t one that you believe in. Unfortunately, you’re not included, because we don’t tolerate those who spread hate – like Neo Nazis, or Ku Klux Klan members, or you – the holier than thou worshippers at the Westboro Baptist Church. Our country’s Constitution might, but we do not (see page 10).

As for Derrick Gordon, he is a part of our UMass family, and you simply do not mess with family. Our community is actually excited and proud of Derrick for having the courage to be the first Division 1 men's basketball player to openly come out as gay, because it’s a step in the right direction for LGBTQ people everywhere. What you do is take leaps backwards, and our historically progressive university simply does not have the time.

UMass is a proud place. We have no trouble displaying our emotion – whether it be a miserable uprising from a Pats Super Bowl loss or a joyous celebration for President Obama’s win, we have no issue in expressing ourselves. If you come to this university to silently petition Derrick Gordon, there will not be silence on behalf of this campus. Because we are UMass, we are united, and we stand behind Derrick Gordon.

XO,

UMass

Photo Sources: 12, 3, 4.