‘Hell Freezes Over’ tops $10K

Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center Dallas reports that the final total for “Hell Freezes Over,” the fundraiser held in response to the Fred Phelps cult’s visit last week, topped $10,000.

The “Westboro Baptist Church Memorial Ice Machine” was ordered Tuesday and was paid for with proceeds of the fundraiser.

With several hundred dollars collected at the Dallas Holocaust Museum, the money raised in Dallas may be a record for fundraising at a Phelps counterprotest.

McDonnell shared some of the notes that accompanied the donations. One of his favorite came from Gary Duncan of Jani-King:

Rafael,

Love the idea of the name of your campaign. Very clever. Those Westboro people make my blood boil! Best of luck with your campaign.

Others donations were made in memory of or in honor of members of the community:

Hello good people.

I am a lifelong friend of Paul Doolan.

Take good care of him; he is precious.

Please use the enclosed check for the “Hell Freezes Over” campaign.

There was this beautiful note in memory of a son who died of AIDS:

In memory of my son, Mark D. Raymond, who would have been 50 years old had he lived. And my protest against the so called “Christians” in this land who manage to get so much media coverage. Congratulations in keeping your heads up and making the event positive for the Center.

And this one from someone who read about the visit:

Please accept this small donation to help you raise money for the much-needed ice machine.

While I do not live in the area of the Resource Center, I do know about the work the Center provides to citizens of the Dallas area, especially those living with AIDS. I commend you for asking people to donate up to one dollar for each minute of protest time. I am sure the article in The Dallas Morning News moved others as it did me to act and support your cause.

One donation was made in honor of activist Latisha McDaniel’s work in the community:

We wanted to make this contribution in your honor b/c of the selfless dedication w/ which you have continued to help others move past their own prejudices both within & outside the GLBT community. You actively seek to create positive change in the world around you, not to merely complain about the problems you see. You have also continually sought to build bridges between the straight & GLBT communities so that we can progress together, respecting each other’s contributions to society. You have challenged those around you to talk about difficult subjects in a safe & open atmosphere. You have become an inspiring voice of reason, compassion & passion on human rights issues that many have come to respect. We anticipate you becoming one of our city’s great leaders in the future & look forward to continuing to serve a supportive role in your dreams towards making a difference in the lives of others.

Diane Litke is president of Congregation Beth El Binah, the target of the Phelps clan picket at RCD.

“I’m glad being a target could be so productive for the Resource Center,” Litke said.

—  David Taffet

RCD’s Phelps clan fundraiser may have set record

Counterprotesters braved the rain outside Resource Center Dallas — and the donations poured in. To view our slideshow, go here. And to watch our video, go here. (Eric Dickson/Dallas Voice)

Resource Center Dallas has now brought in about $9,600 for “Hell Freezes Over,” which reportedly makes it one of the top-grossing Phelps clan counterprotest fundraisers of all time.

According to RCD’s Rafael McDonnell, a New York visit from the crazies at Westboro Baptist Church once netted $10,000 for an LGBT group. Phelps-a-thon.com, a website that tracks fundraising around the cult’s pickets, reports totals from $250 raised at a JCC in Indianapolis to $4,500 for Driving Equality during a Boston visit.

Before the group arrived at Resource Center Dallas, the agency had collected about $5,000 for “Hell Freezes Over,” designed to raise money for a new ice maker. During the rainy half hour the clan spent outside RCD on Friday, another $2,700 poured in. Donations collected later at Congregation Beth El Binah, the Phelps clan’s intended target, as well as money sent over the weekend, increased the total. Another $1,800 is pledged but not yet received, bringing the Resource Center total to $9,600.

In addition, the target of the Phelps clan’s first picket on Friday, the Dallas Holocaust Museum, raised money, gained new members and set a one-day attendance record.

With the museum’s total, fundraising for Dallas may have surpassed the New York total. The museum’s development department says they will update us later today.

In their quest to always find new and bizarre targets, the cult recently announced they will picket Comic Con in San Diego on July 22. The reason? Idol worship.

And the reference to the group as a cult, rather than a congregation, refers to a quote from an interview with Nate Phelps in April with the Canadian news show “The Standard,” where he called his father a sociopath and Westboro Baptist Church cult-like.

—  David Taffet

Phelps clan fundraiser nets $7,700 for Resource Center Dallas; Holocaust Museum sets attendance record

Resource Center Dallas raised more than twice its goal and the Dallas Holocaust Museum set attendance records in response to a visit by the Fred Phelps clan.

The Phelps clan from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., began their tour of Dallas with a group of 17, half of them children, in downtown Dallas outside the Holocaust Museum. Every time they began to sing songs mocking the Holocaust, the counterprotesters and passing DART trains drowned them out.

Once the Phelps clan left for their next picket at the Jewish Community Center, most of the counterprotesters toured the museum. According to museum president and CEO Alice Murray, they set an attendance record.

Although Holocaust survivors were asked to stay home rather than be subjected to the Phelpses’ hatred, two came to deliver the message that they had lived through a lot worse than a few stupid signs. Survivor Max Glauben spoke to a standing-room-only audience about his war experiences. Survivor Mike Jacobs sold his book and walked through the exhibit chatting with visitors.

At the Jewish Community Center, counterprotesters blocked the view so children inside wouldn’t see the hate-filled signs. Yavneh Academy, another stop, was closed for the day. The Texas Jewish Post newspaper office, also picketed, is on the sixth floor of an office building set back from Beltline Road across a wide parking lot. The newspaper was not disturbed.

The Phelps clan’s final stop was Resource Center Dallas, where they were protesting Congregation Beth El Binah. The picketers were greeted by 350 counterprotesters. Most were carrying nonsensical signs to taunt the Phelps group.

Before the Phelps clan’s arrival, volunteers chalked the sidewalk across from the center in rainbow stripes and arranged with police that the rainbow-striped sidewalk would be the only place where the Phelpses would be allowed to stand.

Before the clan arrived, the Resource Center had already collected about $5,000 in donations from around the country for “Hell Freezes Over,” a counterprotest fundraiser. Despite a downpour, another $2,700 was raised during the 30 minutes the Phelps clan picketed. The fundraiser had a goal of $3,100 for a new ice maker for RCD’s nutrition program for low-income people with HIV/AIDS.

Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center Dallas said the brakes on the food pantry’s van had just gone out, so some of the additional money would be used for that repair. He joked that he hoped the Phelps clan would return soon.

Congregation Congregation Beth El Binah president Diane Litke said they’d an attendance record for a July Shabbat service and were delighted to have helped the center raise that much money.

Murray said the museum collected a number of donations and gained new memberships. But she said the day was really about promoting tolerance.

—  David Taffet

A day of tolerance begins at the Holocaust Museum and ends at the Resource Center

Fred Phelps

The Dallas Holocaust Museum has asked Dallas Holocaust survivors to stay home for the day on Friday, July 9. But the museum will open its doors free beginning at 1 p.m.

The Fred Phelps clan of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., is scheduled to picket the museum at 2:15 p.m. WBC’s picket schedule also includes a number of other stops around Dallas this weekend targeting the Jewish community.

Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department’s liaison to the LGBT community, asked people not to engage the Phelps clan. They make their money suing anyone and everyone — including the police, she said.

Holocaust Museum President Alice Murray agreed.

“We do not want to legitimatize the hatred of a small number of people who comprise this group by inadvertently providing fodder for media coverage,” she said.

The museum will be open with docents promoting its mission of tolerance and be selling its “upstander” T-shirts.

Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center Dallas said donations have been pouring in for “Hell Freezes Over,” the counterprotest fundraiser to replace the Center’s ice maker. He expects the new Westboro Baptist Church Memorial Ice Maker to be fully funded by Friday evening.

The Phelps gang is expected to gather near the Center at 6:15 p.m. The parking lots will be blocked off so McDonnell recommends street parking.

McDonnell said someone will have a stop watch and a horn. After one minute, he said, the horn will blow and people will throw money into a Pride flag. Each minute Phelps protests, more money will be raised.

“Bring lots of singles,” he said.

Bottled water and Fig Newtons will be served. “Figs” refers to a biblical quote Phelps used to denounce Dallas’ Jewish community.

The target of the evening Phelps protest is Congregation Beth El Binah, a Reform synagogue that meets at the Resource Center. (Full disclosure: I am a member of Congregation Beth El Binah and received the original fax from the Phelps gang about their impending visit).

Beth El Binah’s services will be held on a normal schedule. Everyone is welcome. Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor conducts services that last about an hour beginning at 7:30 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Holocaust Museum director dies suddenly

Elliott Dlin
Elliott Dlin

Dallas Holocaust Museum director Elliott Dlin, 57, died suddenly yesterday morning. Dlin had a heart attack at the museum yesterday morning.

Dlin was a champion of equal rights in Dallas. He was a sponsor of the march on Oak Lawn Avenue earlier this year that remembered gay and lesbian victims of the Holocaust and protested the pending Ugandan genocide law.

He came to Dallas to direct the museum in 2002 after working at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

The museum is located at 211 North Record Street at the West End DART station in Downtown Dallas and is one of the oldest Holocaust museums in the country. Donations in his memory can be made to the museum, which is planning a larger, permanent home across from the Sixth Floor Museum.

—  David Taffet