A few members from the Kansas-based Westboro Church, taking a break from disrupting the funerals of American soldiers, came to the Upper West Side on Thursday to protest the art being created at Juilliard. Here’s why, according to Playbill:

“Shirley Phelps Roper, daughter of the church’s founder, was one of the protesters. She said the group chose Juilliard, which is ranked as one of the top music academies in the world, because, “This is the heart and soul of the arts community.” She said the school’s teachers “have taught this nation proud sin. They have filled the nation with proud sodomites.”

She carried a variety of signs attacking homosexuality, Jews, and the media, but none attacking Juilliard or musicians directly.”

Some Juilliard students attempted to argue with the protestors. And others put on a lovely concert of the pop song “Never Gonna Give You Up”, which is used by young people and denizens of the Internet to make fun of and annoy other people*. But, since they are talented Juilliard performers, the song is kind of lovely instead of annoying! See them play below.

*If you don’t understand the reference, it’s totally fine! This is very much a generational thing. We at the Rag only sort of get it! Wikipedia has more on it here.

ART, NEWS | 22 comments | permalink
    1. anon says:

      Great response by the students but WSR this song is not a generational thing. The joke has been going on for 15 years online. I’m a Gen Xer and everyone I know gets it.

      • Cato says:

        Sorry, that just proves it’s a generational thing. The grown-ups have no idea what this is about.

      • Cat@lynn says:

        I’m a baby boomer and I got it, lol. Love Rick Astley and he just released a new album in October. 🙂

    2. Rita says:

      Kudos to The students at Juilliard!!!
      Members of the hate group, The Westboro church, are among the world’s biggest idiots and morons. We need to give each and everyone of them lobotomies and just put them in a corner somewhere where they don’t bother anyone.

      • Jerry Bergman says:

        Agree. That these pinhead bigots from Westboro came to the UWS only confirms their ignorance and stupidity. But I’m proud to live in a country that allows free speech, even such dumb, hateful speech. After we dump Trump maybe they’ll all crawl back into their holes.

    3. Jonathan says:

      I was dumbstruck when I read this blog post. These students strive to make the world a more beautiful place and some church crazies go after them? One starts to understand Alt-right fanaticism more and the concept of being given permission to come out of their dark holes by the likes of Trump. The response by the Julliard students is extraordinary and full of hope.

    4. Lulu says:

      Beautiful response by Juilliard. There is no God in that Westbrook church…thats evil bigotry.

    5. Pesdestrian says:

      The Westboro Church discourages Christians and any other decent human beings.

      Oh, yes. Christ called and he wants his religion back!

    6. Janet David says:

      Good for Juilliard! Fight evil with beauty!

    7. ws says:

      West Siders are generally highly educated, well travelled, progressive and enlightened, so it’s hard to grasp the depths of fanaticism, ignorance and bigotry of this group. I’d would try to pity and laugh at them if only they didn’t have real influence and real followers in red state America.

    8. Anonymous says:

      It was not only the juilliard students who responded beautifully but the students from my high school, LaGuardia across the street. (LaGuardia is the visual and performing arts school from the movie fame). My friend actually got close enough to hug Shirley and then immediately after tell her ‘You’re contaminated now, I’m gay.’ Many of other kids in my grade also wore big rainbow flags as cloaks to school today in protest.

    9. Ricky McRainbow says:

      Julliard to Westboro: #juckfeebus

      • Independent says:


        Isn’t that an obscene, blasphemous attack on Christianity itself and all of its followers?

        Yet another example of:
        a) those who are the most vocal and self-righteous in condemning hate and intolerance often being the most pronounced and egregious in exhibiting such traits themselves, and,
        b) Christians being one of the last groups that, to a considerable degree at least, it remains socially and politically acceptable to attack and insult.

    10. west side walking says:

      Well now Julliard got an unintended accolade, “the heart and soul of the arts community.” Applications should increase.

    11. Gwynne says:

      Kudos to the kids at Juilliard, no violence yea!!

    12. Jess says:

      So glad that Trump has empowered these disgusting people. If he wins, we have more of this to look forward to.

    13. Robert UWS says:

      Westboro is not a church, except perhaps in the eyes of the IRS. It is a tiny family cult, nothing more. They do not merit the attention they receive from their odious publicity stunts. This family is in need of mental health services. Let’s hope they are on public assistance and Medicaid and can obtain medication and counseling.

    14. Sharon says:

      Tax religions. Watch the wordt of them disappear.

    15. Ever heard of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion?? You should check out this document called the Constitution of the United States of America. That’s why this is the greatest country in the world. Love it or leave it basically.

    16. MEF says:

      There was a great story in the New Yorker last year about Shirley Phelps Roper’s daughter, Megan, who left Westboro:


    17. jezbel says:

      Playing that particular song at someone is known as getting “Rickrolled”. Always was a fun song. It revitalized Rick Astley’s career. He had retired and now has a new album coming out. Wesboro just got Rickrolled!