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