Protesters from Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas church known for its vehement anti-gay positions and for protesting at US soldiers' funeral (Getty)
Nashville, TN (written by Nancy DeVille/The Tennessean) -- Members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church known for its anti-gay protests across the country were outnumbered by counterprotesters at Cross Point Church on Sunday and left within minutes of arriving.
News of the Westboro Baptist members' plans to picket flooded social media sites, resulting in a counterprotest of about 150 people. Local protesters held up a 50-foot sheet of black plastic to shield Westboro members' picket signs from being seen by Cross Point parishioners. Westboro members returned to their cars and left the area.
"We are not going to welcome hate in our city," said Jason Steen, who rallied counterprotesters together via Facebook. Steen is not affiliated with Cross Point Church.
"The church services were never interrupted because they were gone before people were coming in or out. If they are going to come back to town, we will be there to spread a message of love and protect the people who they come to protest against," he said.
Kansas-based Westboro has attracted national attention and sparked outrage for its anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. military members. The group came to Nashville to picket country music singer Carrie Underwood's support for same-sex marriage and the "false prophets of Nashville who taught her to love," its website said.