The Westboro Baptist Church has landed itself in the headlines in recent days for pledging to protest comedian Robin Williams funeral and seemingly accepting a now-defunct challenge to head to Iraq to publicly protest the brutal Islamic State.
But what the controversial church members likely didn't expect their fiery comments and antics to do was inadvertently raise almost $100,000 in honor of Williams — money that will be given to the St. Jude's Children's Hospital, a charity that was close to the entertainer's heart.
A fundraising campaign aimed against Westboro's planned protest was given a boost when Australian comedian Adam Hills voiced his frustration over the church's public statements against Williams, offering to pay for members of the group to go to Iraq to protest the Islamic State — a challenge Westboro seemingly accepted, tweeting that they had their "bags packed."
"If you really believe in standing up to those threatening the Christian way of life, Westboro Baptist Church, how about putting your money where your mouth is, taking a direct flight to Iraq and picketing the people threatening to behead Christians if they don’t convert?," Hills said on his TV show "The Last Leg."
He continued, "I will personally pay for every member of the Westboro Baptist Church to fly to Iraq right now. I'll even fly you first class and pay the carbon offset."
Watch his comments made earlier this month below (caution: language):
Westboro seemed fine with the offer, sending a series of tweets that affirmed they'd potentially take him up on it:
Days later, Hills said that he had looked into the possibility of sending members first class to the Middle East and learned that it wasn't possible, so he, instead, decided to help raise money to donate to Williams' favorite children's hospital charity, the Daily Mail reported.
"We did seriously look into this and took onboard the advice of both the U.S. and U.K. governments, neither of which were too happy about us sending professional s**t stirrers into a war zone," Hills said on his television show over the weekend.
He added that he believes Westboro loves publicity and that its members know "the more hate they preach, the more publicity they'll get." The comedian urged others to join him in supporting St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
"Not only will it help a child. It will really piss off a bigot," Hills said.
Watch the comedian's comments below (caution: language):
Hills joined Planting Peace, a gay rights group that purchased a home last year across the street from Westboro Baptist Church's physical headquarters in Topeka, Kansas, in personally raising more than $37,000 of the nearly $100,000 that has come in on Crowdwise, a crowdfunding website.
"In keeping with our philosophy of addressing acts of hate and intolerance with compassion and love, we are inviting the public to show their respect and support of a man who spent his life making others smile, who was always there for others in their time of need, and who supported the greater good through works of service and charity," a description of the fundraiser reads. "Please join Planting Peace in counteracting the WBC’s message of hate through a fundraising event benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a cause Mr. Williams passionately and publicly supported."
Image source: Crowdwise
Westboro also captured attention in recent days for its comments on President Barack Obama and Ebola.
(H/T: Daily Mail)