When Congregation Beth Simchat Torah heard that the hate-spewing protesters of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church were coming to their turf, they cleverly decided to make a virtue of a visit by the fringe group, which has picketed the funerals of U.S. soldiers to get publicity for its anti-Jew, anti-gay, anti-American isolationism.

In an inspired moment of creative fund-raising, it convinced about 150 sympathetic community members to pledge $1 for every minute the hatemongers -- there were only six anyway -- appeared on their doorstep in New York City with signs bearing the group's usual invective, which has been trotted out for the cameras so often it ought to be trademarked: "Jews Stole the Land" and "God Hates Fags." By the time the haters departed, a mere 50 minutes after they arrived, $10,000 had been raised.

"Their very presence will actually raise money for the mission of this community," Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum told the New York Daily News. "The synagogue wants a building so we're hoping this will help us get a building."

People may not be able to donate as often as they used to, but turning venom against itself is an investment even the most cash-strapped believer can enjoy.

It's not the first time that Fred Phelps, the chief benighted fanatic of the so-called church, has found his rhetoric turned against himself. In 2006, the American Civil Liberties Union, that symbol of liberal values that's so reviled in hyper-conservative circles, chose to defend his funeral protests in a free speech case, thereby fortifying the very thing he had hoped to destroy.

It's a little like dealing with a cockroach infestation by teaching them to clean up after themselves. Brilliant!

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