"I just don't like seeing those signs and I kind of wanted to put a stop to that."
That's 9-year-old Josef Miles' simple explanation for why he held up a notepad that said "GOD HATES NO ONE" as supporters of the tiny Westboro Baptist Church staged another small demonstration featuring their signs that say God hates homosexuals.
His Mother's Day Weekend action in Topeka, Kan., which we we reported about last week, won Josef fans across the Web after photos of him started to spread. Today, he and his mom spoke with Tell Me More host Michel Martin.
Josef's mother, Patty Akrouche, told Michel that she and her son have often seen the Westboro Baptist protesters in Topeka, where the church is based. As we've said before, Westboro Baptist has gained notice in recent years for protesting against homosexuality, abortion and other issues outside the funerals of military veterans and celebrities.
Josef had in the past asked her about the signs, which feature an objectionable F-word when referring to homosexuals. Akrouche had told her son that the signs were using "a hate word" to refer to men who love men and women who love women.
As he reflected on that, Josef said, he decided that "I didn't want everybody to think that Topeka has a bad image." So on the day earlier this month when they came upon the protesters again, "I thought about it for a minute" and concluded that "God hates no one" would be the right thing to say.
Because "that is true," Josef said.
Akrouche told Michel that "it's a privilege and honor" to be Josef's mom. She has better conversations with him, she said, than with many adults: "I learn something new from him every day."
As for Josef, he felt "really brave and confident" that day (the Westboro protesters "were respectful," by the way, according to Akrouche). And now he's a little surprised by the attention he's gotten. "I thought it would be just, like, 'oh, that's really great, good for you,' " he said, not something that would go viral.
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