Metro Weekly

Former Westboro Baptist member talks about leaving “God Hates Fags” church

Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Westboro's founder, realised she had to leave the church after conversations on Twitter

Megan Phelps-Roper, Photo: TED / YouTube

“Once I saw that we were not the ultimate arbiters of divine truth, but flawed human beings, I couldn’t pretend otherwise.”

Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Fred Phelps, the founder of Westboro Baptist Church — the Kansas’ based church notorious for its “God Hates Fags” protests.

Phelps-Roper discussed her decision to leave the church during a TED talk titled: “I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. Here’s why I left.”

“As a member of Westboro Baptist Church, I became a fixture on picket lines across the country,” Phelps-Roper said. ‘The end of my anti-gay picketing career, and life as I knew it, came 20 years later, triggered in part by strangers on Twitter, who showed me the power of engaging the ‘other.'”

Unsurprisingly, her initial encounters were far from positive, with users being “just as hostile as I expected. They would be understandably confused and caught off guard, but then a conversation would ensue. It was civil and full of genuine curiosity.”

The kinder encounters led Phelps-Roper to question her entire world view — and rethink part of the Bible: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

“It took time, but eventually these conversations planted seeds of doubt in me,” Phelps-Roper adds.

Libby Phelps-Alvarez, another granddaughter of Fred Phelps, left the church in 2009 and in 2014 appeared in a photo shoot for the NOH8 campaign. She wrote a column detailing the church’s obsession with homosexuality.

“The whole family talks about homosexuality, every single day,” she wrote. “And it’s always about how homosexuals are dooming the world. They talk about fornication and divorce, remarriage and adultery, but the main thing is the homosexual lifestyle.”

Watch Megan Phelps-Roper’s full speech below:

[ninja-inline id=73197]

Leave a Comment:

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!