What The Westboro Baptist Church Did To Pokemon Will Make You Cringe [Opinion]

The Westboro Baptist Church and Pokemon have done battle this year. It seems the church, known for “preaching” by picketing the funerals of soldiers and being extremely anti-gay, decided to lash back at Pokemon one more time before 2016 closed. The images they’ve altered of Pokemon will make anyone who loves either the game or LGBT equality cringe.

Inquisitr reported back in July that the Westboro Baptist Church had been turned into a virtual gym in the Pokemon Go game, which sends players hunting virtual creatures in the real world.

A player took advantage of this opportunity to pop a Clefairy named LoveIsLove into the church gym. Westboro Baptist responded with a Pokemon image of their own. Editing the original image to read “LustIsLust,” Westboro added another Pokemon whose name mirrored the anti-gay slur typically slathered on their signs.

However, it seems that the back-and-forth between the Westboro Baptist Church members and Pokemon Go players wasn’t done yet. (And of course, winning gyms back and forth between two teams isn’t exactly a part of Pokemon Go unique to the controversial church.)

In August, GamenGuide followed up, with Westboro Baptist Church leader Steve Drain condemning Pokemon as just one of the things that America turns to to “enable sin,” lashing out after the Pokemon and LGBT communities mocked the church anew for using Jigglypuff — another Pokemon who is a pink fairy — in an anti-gay effort.

Over the months since, there were apparently some other memorable trolling moments as Pokemon enthusiasts took turns in the gym — like a Magmar named Satan. (Magmar is a fire-type Pokemon, actually termed “spitfire Pokemon.”)

(Though it has been pointed out that Pokemon names aren’t visible in a gym, they are visible to the user who places the Pokemon — just not others. This only means the screenshot had to be taken by the Pokemon’s own trainer, not a random passerby.)

Then someone caught a Clefairy with the CP (Combat Power — basically just a number identifying the strength of the Pokemon) 666, a number often associated with Satan and evil. This, too, inspired a connection to the Westboro Baptist Church.

Moreover, the original stories about Pokemon vs. Westboro have continued to be popular — not only has the Westboro Baptist Church had to continue to deal with the specter of whatever Pokemon may hang over their heads on any given day, but they’ve also continued to hear about it, be tagged in retweets of it, and be constantly reminded online.

In fact, perhaps it was a spate of retweets in December that inspired the Westboro Baptist Church to use social media to lash out once more at Pokemon before 2016 came to a close.

With only hours left in the year, the church published a Vine video with a series of modified Pokemon cards, altered to send messages such as “forgetting God = Hell” in the hands of a Charmander, “Believe on the Lord Jesus” carried by a Squirtle, and “Truth = Love” accompanying a Bulbasaur. (This reflects the church’s claim that their anti-gay message is one of love.) A Pikachu holding a sign with an anti-gay slur is also featured in the Vine.

The cards the church members chose to alter aren’t random or coincidental, either. The four characters chosen are starters — partners selected at the beginning of a game — and more specifically, they are the four Pokemon partners a player can choose in Pokemon Go.

The Westboro Baptist Church took one last shot at the Pokemon and LGBT communities for the year — and it was honestly as pitiful a parting shot as it was a cringe-worthy one.

[Featured Image by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images]