Alaska Native Heritage Center That ‘God Hates’ According to the Westboro Church

Courtesy Alfie Price/The Alaska Native Heritage Center was a target of the Westboro Baptist Church prior to the Sealaska Heritage Institute Celebration in 2014

Photos of the Alaska Native Heritage Center That ‘God Hates’ According to the Westboro Baptist Church

The Alaska Native Heritage Center was a target of the Westboro Baptist Church prior to the Sealaska Heritage Institute Celebration in 2014.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church are in the news again with their protests, just as they were in 2014 when they decried the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

Last week, the Westboro Baptist Church protested the Van’s Warped Tour and was met by a group of musicians crashing and trolling the religious group’s activities according to Loudwire.com. The church is planning to protest Green Day’s concert on August 11 in Kansas City.

The church is well known for its offensive protests. In the past it has celebrated the death of soldiers by protesting at their funerals (church members believe that soldiers defend what they see as the government’s pro-homosexual agenda when they defend the country) and railed about God’s so-called hate toward homosexuals and more. In June 2014, the Westboro Baptist Church turned its attention to Native Americans.

Prior to the 2014 protest at the Alaska Heritage Center in Anchorage, Alaska, the church posted a release on their offensively titled website GodHatesFags.com that shared two reasons for the protest:

“…you make a religion out of the pagan idolatrous practices of past generations. There is nothing appealing or holy about the ‘heritage’ of the eleven ‘distinct cultures’ or ‘diverse population’ of Alaska. They walked in darkness and served idols of every kind, contrary to the direct commandment to have no gods before God.”

“… you fail to give God the glory, instead of the traditions and gods of the past… Stop worshiping dead cultures, man-made idols, and the sinful traditions of past generations. Put the resources into teaching and learning the Bible instead, and warning your neighbor to stop sinning before it’s too late, and he’s sinned away the last day of grace.”

The release was also peppered with biblical passages from Acts and Exodus and comments such as “God hasn’t completely destroyed Alaska yet, so there is time to repent of this idolatry.”

The Westboro Baptist Church planned their protest 10 days before the biennial Sealaska Heritage Institute Celebration which began June 11, 2014 in Juneau. According to sealaskaheritage.org, the Celebration is a major dance-and-culture festival held every two years (next celebration is set for June, 2018), and draws thousands of people to the capital. The 2014 theme was “Envisioning the future through the reflections of our past.”

The following photos, all courtesy of the Git-Hoan Dancers Facebook page, are a small piece of the 2012 Celebration offering a great look into the culture of the Alaska Native communities.

Courtesy Steve Quinn/Many years ago when the missionaries came, they made us burn our regalia and totem poles. Saying we were idol worshipers and that we needed to be ‘saved.’ We are still recovering from the last time they tried to save us.” – Myrna Gardner, Tlingit and Haida Indian

Courtesy Kandi McGilton/To see the beauty of Alaska Native Culture and its People, you have to understand the meaning. Historically, we did not have a written language. We carry our history through our songs and dance.” – Myrna Gardner, Tlingit and Haida Indian

Courtesy Alfie Price/‘Nuum ‘Na-‘Waalt. It belongs to us. Long ago we knew who we were, we learned from our elders, somehow what we knew was lost.

Courtesy Steve Quinn/“Today, Alaskans work and live together and celebrate the diversity of its people. Dance groups like Hawaiians, African Americans, and Irish all celebrate their history through song and dance. Are they Pagans?” – Myrna Gardner, Tlingit and Haida Indian
Courtesy Brian Wallace/“We cannot change the minds of others this is not our place. Only God can heal a man’s heart. We don’t have to stoop to their level with hateful words and signs. We will lift our voices on our grandfather’s land and celebrate the beauty of Alaska’s first people.” – Myrna Gardner, Tlingit and Haida Indian

Courtesy Alfie Price/‘Nuum ‘Na-‘Waalt. It belongs to us. Now is the time. There are elders again. There is pride again.

Courtesy Kandi McGilton/“We are disheartened to hear of this ignorance and return to our early history when indigenous cultures and religions were uniformly condemned.” – Rosita Kaaháni Worl, Ph.D., vice chair Sealaska Corporation; president Sealaska Heritage Institute

Courtesy Alfie Price/“I am comforted in believing that Christians—including those of the same denomination as the Westboro group—will stand with Native Peoples in asserting that one of this country’s greatest resources is Native culture and spirituality and should be protected as a basic human and civil right.” – Rosita Kaaháni Worl

“I consider this a hate crime, however I don’t want to give them more publicity. They are not worth the ink or notoriety.” – Senator Georgianna Lincoln, Athabascan

“And the city of Anchorage, its law enforcement should respond and keep these people off, private property.” – Senator Georgianna Lincoln, Athabascan

Courtesy Brian Wallace/Git Hoan Traveling Song. I will follow this road where ever it leads, through good or bad ’til I reach it’s end.

Courtesy Johanna M. Cropley/“There is beauty, depth, and a rich heritage among Alaska Natives, each made in the image of our Creator and each person intrinsically valuable. How about getting to know a few of these fine Alaskans first before pronouncing judgment?” – Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell

Courtesy Steve Quinn/“I would love to see this day set up to be the biggest cultural celebration the center has ever seen!!! Showcase all Alaska’s peoples with dance and events and beauty all day!” – Kristin Glitterboots Jones

This story was originally published April 17, 2014 and has been updated.

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