The Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church is the preeminent anti-gay hatemongering group in the U.S., so how do you turn their activism against them? By using their protests as fundraisers. At least, in my former home in Virginia.

Gay and Jewish groups in Richmond learned that they were gonna be targeted by Fred Phelps’ fanatics, so they launched Pennies in Protest. The idea is simple: Ask people to donate, a la walk-and-ride fundraisers, a penny, a dime, a quarter for every minute that WBC was in town protesting. So, WBC shakes signs saying “God Hates Fags” for two hours? People pony up as little as $1.20. Then those funds are donated to the gay and jewish groups. In less than 12 hours, the group raised $1,200.

Who doesn’t like the irony that Phelps and friends actually benefited the groups they were protesting? And they probably spent well more than $1,200 of their own money staging the protest. Net gain, as I see it.

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