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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Megan Phelps-Roper, and Her Sister Grace, Have Left the Westboro Church

Posted by on Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Here's a really fascinating profile on Megan Phelps-Roper, who not only left the Westboro Church, but also her family. Megan was one of the first Westboro members to take to social media—she often spewed her hate on Twitter. She sometimes went after local bands, too—Death Cab for Cutie, Hey Marseilles, and John Roderick have all been targets (weirdly). But she's changed. It was an online conversation with David Abitbol of Jewicious that started to plant the seed of doubt.

“I would ask him questions about Judaism, and he would ask me questions about church doctrine. One day, he asked a specific question about one of our signs—‘Death Penalty for Fags’—and I was arguing for the church’s position, that it was a Levitical punishment and as completely appropriate now as it was then. He said, ‘But Jesus said’—and I thought it was funny he was quoting Jesus—‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ And then he connected it to another member of the church who had done something that, according to the Old Testament, was also punishable by death. I realized that if the death penalty was instituted for any sin, you completely cut off the opportunity to repent. And that’s what Jesus was talking about.”

She also admits that what she was believing, now sounds "crazy":

She kept trying to conquer the doubts. Westboro teaches that one cannot trust his or her feelings. They’re unreliable. Human nature “is inherently sinful and inherently completely sinful,” Megan explains. “All that’s trustworthy is the Bible. And if you have a feeling or a thought that’s against the church’s interpretations of the Bible, then it’s a feeling or a thought against God himself.”

This, of course, assumes that the church’s teachings and God’s feelings are one and the same. And this, of course, assumes that the church’s interpretation of the Bible is infallible, that this much-debated document handed down over the centuries has, in 2013, been processed and understood correctly only by a small band of believers in Topeka. “Now?” Megan says. “That sounds crazy to me.”

Read the whole thing here. It's a nice (albiet a bit strange and crazy) reminder that even the most blindly hateful seeming person is capable of evolving and thinking critically of their own decisions.


Comments (21) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Reason prevails over stupidity. Now, if only more people could reason.
Posted by Mike in Olympia on February 7, 2013 at 10:48 AM · Report this
treacle 2
Through attrition we will exhaust the WBC into quietude and irrelevance.
Posted by treacle on February 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM · Report this
Mike Force 3
Like a dog learning to heel for the first time.
Posted by Mike Force on February 7, 2013 at 10:51 AM · Report this
Fnarf 4
In December, she went to a public library in Lawrence, Kansas. She was looking through books on philosophy and religion, and it struck her that people had devoted their entire lives to studying these questions of how to live and what is right and wrong. “The idea that only WBC had the right answer seemed crazy,” she says. “It just seemed impossible.”

Posted by Fnarf on February 7, 2013 at 10:59 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 5
Still disappointed that America's legions of violent, gun-toting psychos haven't had at least one "interaction" with Fred Phelps.

I wouldn't protest that funeral, but I'd make it a point to shit on his grave.
Posted by Sir Vic on February 7, 2013 at 11:02 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 6
I heard a rumor that a third Phelps might have also left (third in addition to the two who just left, not counting the one who left long ago). Does anyone have a current, accurate count of Phelps expats? I've confused myself just writing this.
Posted by MacCrocodile on February 7, 2013 at 11:19 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 7
@5 Agreed, but if I felt I had nothing left to live for, and was going to take out someone who richly deserved it, I'd aim higher then Fred Phelps. However, it is surprising that none of the people they're directly harassing have snapped.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on February 7, 2013 at 11:47 AM · Report this
Womyn2me 8
HOnestly, I am so gobsmacked by this. Megan is Shirley's DAUGHTER. and also the person who got WBC into social media and tweaking up their use of computers.

and from the stuff I have been reading, it is actually the 'relatively new' aspect of WBC with the increase in Shirley's involvement as Fred slipped back that they started actively targetting Jewish organizations and synagoges. THAT is the part that sent Megan out, not the kill the gays stuff. she ended up finding common ground with Jew she met on the internets that made her realize that the WBC is wrong.
Posted by Womyn2me http://http:\\ on February 7, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 9
Like I say every time this comes up, treating them like human beings is the only way to get through. Not laughing at them or with the same hate-front they adopt.

@8: If you've seen the Louis Theroux specials on the Phelps clan, you could see this coming and progressing. It's fascinating. Good for Megan, I hope she gets through this with as little baggage as she can.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 7, 2013 at 12:37 PM · Report this
This has almost gotten to the point that a TV show could be made around this family. My only question is should it be a reality show or a sitcom.
Posted by PaulBarwick on February 7, 2013 at 12:38 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 11
@5: The Phelps clan point out that everybody's going to hell (including themselves) your violence-lust is actually sicker than their beliefs. Congrats for stooping lower than them, though you're hardly alone in this.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 7, 2013 at 12:41 PM · Report this
Brainwashing on the WBC scale requires constant reinforcement. As the patriarch's health fails and control slips, some members might inadvertently find themselves having independent thoughts. Those thoughts in some cases may lead to doubts, and then to apostasy.
Posted by Proteus on February 7, 2013 at 1:15 PM · Report this
very bad homo 14
Good for her. I honestly wish her a healthy recovery. WBC was the only world she knew, and she was brainwashed from a young age, so getting out must have taken a whole lot of strength and soul searching. I can only hope she will devote the rest of her life to doing good.
Posted by very bad homo on February 7, 2013 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 15
We really should be calling it the Westboro Cult. But either way, all religion relies on brainwashing.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on February 7, 2013 at 1:29 PM · Report this
So it seems from this that members of the cult actually do believe what they preach, and are not just trying to instigate lawsuits. Huh.
Posted by catsnbanjos on February 7, 2013 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 17
@6: There's at least a couple more. Nathan Phelps left over a decade ago -- I wonder if she's gotten in touch with him.

@16: the two aren't mutually exclusive. If you read any of the bigger profiles of the clan, it's pretty clear that Fred Sr is a sociopath/narcissist along the same lines as Jim Jones or L. Ron Hubbard. He "believes" whatever bullshit he's spewing because he's his own god and savior: he also doesn't feel any particular need to abide by the same moral standard that he preaches, because consistency and introspection are for little people. (His type rarely do.) But plenty of the followers are true believers.
Posted by Doctor Memory on February 7, 2013 at 3:58 PM · Report this
kim in portland 18
Wow. I wish them both healing, happiness, and a community that meets their needs. I applaud their courage and thirst for critical thinking.
Posted by kim in portland on February 7, 2013 at 5:14 PM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 19
This is wonderful. I remember how hard it was to leave the cultish fundie religion I grew up in, and I had an easy community to escape to. Can't imagine how much harder it would be for a Phelps.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on February 7, 2013 at 6:08 PM · Report this
@4. Thanks, Fnarf. We recently raised our property taxes to double the size of that library.
Posted by Biologist in the stix on February 7, 2013 at 8:15 PM · Report this
Aurora Erratic 21
@4 Fnarf, FTW. (Are people still saying that - FTW - BTW?)
Posted by Aurora Erratic on February 8, 2013 at 5:09 AM · Report this

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