Westboro Baptist Church has made the headlines yet again after the group promised to picket Panic! At The Disco’s concert in Kansas City this past week. The picket-happy church was reportedly responding to the band’s song, I Write Sins Not Tragedies. Panic! At The Disco turned the incident into an opportunity to undermine the church’s hateful message by promising to donate to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). In particular, the band said they would donate $20 dollars for each Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) picketer present at the Panic! At The Disco concert.
The WBC and its recently deceased leader, Fred Phelps, have become notorious for promoting an homophobic ideology and intemperate reading of Christian scripture. The hyper-extremist stance of the WBC has led Baptist denominations to denounce the church, and the WBC thus remains an unaffiliated Baptist church. The WBC is considered by and large to be a hate group.
Last Thursday, the WBC released a YouTube video that was intended as a parody to the Panic! At The Disco song, I Write Sins Not Tragedies. The WBC version, entitled, You Love Sin What A Tragedy, has received almost 14 thousand views on YouTube. The WBC parody features lyrics such as, “haven’t you people ever heard of obeying the word of god” and “you all rebel against the king of kings.” Other lyrics such as “Oh! You all say it’s okay to be gay,” illustrated the church’s knack for misappropriating themes of inclusion and humanism. No stranger to profanity, the WBC lyrics include about a dozen pejoratives in reference to the LGBTQ community in particular, and humanity in general.
The church’s video initiated a series of Twitter correspondence between the WBC and Panic! At The Disco. Donning the hashtag #pride2014, Panic! At The Disco tweeted that they would donate $20 dollars for every Westboro Baptist Church protestor at the band’s Kansas City concert. However, when only 13 WBC picketers showed up, the band was unsatisfied with the math and instead pledged to donate $1000 dollars to the HRC. The band cited the church’s turnout as “weak,” and in addition to the $1000 dollars, Panic! At The Disco said they would donate 5 percent of the concert’s merchandise revenue to the HRC.
Following the concert, the WBC tweeted references from the Book of Revelation and mocked the band’s name by tweeting, “there’ll be panic at the second coming of Christ! (Rev. 6.16).” The church also claimed that a fan of the band tried to run over WBC protesters as they were picketing. In a final attempt at devotion, the church tweeted a picture of Panic! At The Disco frontman, Brendon Urie, with a caption that read “Repent! or Perish!”
The Westboro Baptist Church parody of I Write Sins Not Tragedies sought to recast the song as an anti-gay marriage ballad in the hopes of further espousing the church’s homophobic ideology. The quick response by the members of Panic! At The Disco managed to undermine the WBC’s attempt, however, and instead made each picketer a beacon for equality. In the end, the band managed to transform a gesture of hatred into an opportunity to support a posture of LGBTQ-based humanistic inclusivity by donating to the HRC.
By Courtney Anderson