A New York-based temple devoted to encouraging "benevolence and empathy among all people" through the teachings of Satan traveled over the weekend to the Mississippi gravesite of Catherine Idalette Johnston, late mother of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Jr., in order to perform a same-sex ceremony aimed at turning Johnston's spirit gay.
The ritual, known as a "Pink Mass," was performed twice — once with two gay men, and once with a pair of lesbians.
Satanic Temple rep Lucien Greaves explained to The Gauntlet how the whole thing came about:
The idea for the Pink Mass ceremony and website came during the aftermath of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings, during which time the WBC were threatening to protest the funerals of the bombing victims. Members of The Satanic Temple were in Boston, waiting for them, but they failed to show. Later, the WBC issued a statement that they had been present 'in spirit'. We decided that a same-sex couple celebrating ceremony at the grave-site of Fred Phelps's mother was an appropriate way to meet the Westboro Baptists, 'in spirit', but this time on our terms.
According to the website Westboro-Baptist.com — which The Satanic Temple commandeered — "Upon completion of the Pink Mass ceremony, Catherine Johnston is now gay in the afterlife."
Speaking to Vice, Greaves said Phelps and his clan now have no choice but to target the grave for one of their infamous protests.
"We believe that Fred Phelps is obligated to believe that his mother is now gay in the afterlife," he said. "Further, if beliefs are inviolable rights, nobody has the right to challenge our right to believe that Fred Phelps believes that his mother is now gay."
The Temple is encouraging other gay couples to visit Johnston's grave and "pay their respects."
As for the Westboro Baptist Church, a spokesperson for their congregation announced plans to picket the funeral of Glee star Cory Monteith, who died Saturday of a drug overdose.
[photos via Satanic Temple]