Topeka, Kansas (KWCH) -- Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church has a new neighbor.
A group called "Planting Peace" just moved across the street from the
church known for its anti-gay protests. Their house, called the
Equality House, has been painted with all the colors of the rainbow,
which represents the gay pride flag.
Aaron Jackson said the group's goal is to create anti-bullying programs across America.
"We want to be asthetically pleasing," he said. "Our goal isn't to offend anyone."
Jackson said he read about the Phelps family last year. He then used
Google to find out where the church was located. He decided to purchase
the property after noticing for sale signs in the area.
Topeka officials said the rainbow house does not violate city code.
Westboro Baptist Church was founded in 1955 by Pastor Fred Phelps, who is still
active. Members refer to themselves as a Baptist church that supports
the doctrines of John Calvin, according to their website.
Despite being considered detestable by most people, the church's
speech has been deemed protected in a Supreme Court ruling in 2011.
The court ruled the First Amendment protected the church's anti-gay
protests outside military funerals.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in that 8-1 ruling: "Speech is
powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy
and sorrow, and - as it did here - inflict great pain. On the facts
before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a
nation we have chosen a different course - to protect even hurtful
speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate."