Miami University could host controversial Westboro Baptist Church

Published: Sep. 20, 2011 at 11:38 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2011 at 12:26 AM EDT
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Miami University is in the planning stages to bring the controversial Westboro Baptist Church to speak at their campus. The religious group is recognized for picketing soldiers funerals and for its extreme stance against homosexuality.

The visit has not yet been approved by the University, but a proposal is being discussed, still some students already say the group will not receive a warm welcome.

"Their message is not just a negative message, it's a negative message that spreads violence, and I just fear what this could do to the Oxford Community, as well as Miami as a whole," said Miami Sophomore Kyle Peavley.
Peavley wrote a letter to Miami's President Dr. David Hodge,speaking out against having a group known for promoting hate on his college campus.
"It was a call to action, I felt that they did not need to be on campus, it would look bad for the community and the University," Peavley said.
"Surely their language that often carries hate is not one that matches Miami University's values, but it was an attempt to have an education opportunity in a limited classroom situation," said University spokeswoman Claire Wagner.
University officials say the visit would be in an academic context for select students as part of a religion class that covers religious extremism.
"It might mean doing an interview by video camera as opposed to being in a classroom, it might mean having it off campus, there are still discussions to be had," Wagner said.
Jon Yarborough a member of the LGBTQ student group Spectrum says he too is against Westboro's beliefs, but can understand the potential for a learning experience.
"I feel like as long as they're coming and being represented as a hate group, and are understood as that, then maybe they can have some sort of education value to the student here," Yarborough said.
The U.S. Supreme court ruled in March that the church can picket on the grounds of first amendment rights -- picketing isn't expected when the group plans to speak on campus with faculty and select students.

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