NEW YORK — On Friday, the infamous Westboro Baptist Church could be found — offensive signs in hand — on the Upper West Side protesting the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. According to church members, they wanted to inform the scientists within (who study the effect of climate change) that “when God begins to pour out his wrath—and one of the ways he does it is by taking advantage of the weather—there is no one thing they’ll be able to do to stop it.”
The people of Westboro told Ars that “God is going to destroy this earth with fire,” and apparently no amount of carbon reduction or even research on the subject will be enough to prevent it. The demonstrators were ignorant of science and instead directed us to passages from the Bible describing the end of the world in a cleansing fire.
When we suggested that the amount of warming predicted by current climate models was still nowhere near a fiery glow, the idea was dismissed as “angels dancing on the tip of a pin.” To their credit, the Westboro Baptist protesters told us they didn’t want to change anyone’s mind, even though they dismissed science and research as “blah blah blah.”
It was a brief encounter and no one came away with a change of heart. Perhaps fittingly – given the somewhat surreal nature of our conversation – the protest took place within sight of Tom’s Restaurant, made famous in countless episodes of Seinfeld.
Frame image by Jonathan Gitlin