- The Magazine
—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:
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