Louise McLaren/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

After Westboro Baptist Church attacks David Bowie, nonprofit steals its spotlight with cancer fundraiser

They're harnessing the power of a notorious group for a good cause.


Mary Emily O'Hara


Published Jan 14, 2016   Updated May 27, 2021, 9:03 am CDT

When the Westboro Baptist Church threatened to protest David Bowie‘s New York memorial concert at Carnegie Hall, most of the Internet rolled its collective cyber-eyes. But one group used the opportunity to raise money for a good cause.

The large Phelps family at the center of the church is well known for toting ‘God Hates Fags’ signs to military funerals, high schools, Hollywood awards ceremonies, football games, concerts, and other high-profile events.

Bowie, the beloved rock icon and hero to the queer communitypassed away on Sunday. While the Carnegie Hall celebration in his honor isn’t listed on the church’s official schedule, the group suggested that the memorial might be its next target in a tweet on Tuesday.


The church followed up its threat with a flurry of insulting tweets directed at Bowie’s widow, the supermodel Iman.

Shortly thereafter, a nonprofit decided to hijack the church’s spotlight redirect it toward kinder efforts.

Planting Peace, the group known for buying the house across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas and painting it in rainbow colors to support LGBTQ rights, used the church’s attack on Bowie to raise money for cancer, the disease that took Bowie’s life on Sunday.

On Crowdrise, Planting Peace’s “Remembering Bowie” fundraiser has garnered more than $22,000 for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The donation will be made in Bowie’s name.

“In keeping with our philosophy of addressing acts of hate and intolerance with compassion and love,” Planting Peace said, “we are inviting the public to show their respect and support of a man who was not only a brilliant, transcendent artist and entertainer, but a man who lived his life as a role model for individual expression and authenticity.”

As of early Thursday afternoon, the fundraiser was well on track to meet its $50,000 goal.

Planting Peace did not respond to a request for comment.

Photo via Louise McLaren/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Jan 14, 2016, 3:06 pm CST