Brittany Murphy's death influenced Westboro Baptist Church daughter decision to quit homophobic group

Megan Phelps-Roper says she liked Murphy and felt unable to crow about her death

Independent, UK/November 19, 2015

By Heather Saul

A daughter of the infamous anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church has revealed her decision to quit after being a life-long member was influenced by the sudden death of Brittany Murphy.

Megan Phelps-Roper and her family regularly picketed funerals with signs bearing hateful, homophobic and anti-Jewish messages. Some of their most infamous  “God hates fags” and “Thank God for dead soldiers”.

WBC believes illness and tragedies such as 9/11 are a punishment from God on America for supporting homosexuality, and its members, almost all of whom are members of the Phelps family, believe it is their duty to relentlessly inform sinners of their impending doom.

The group made headlines again a few months ago (although probably not the kind they'd like to see) when the Foo Fighters interrupted their picket outside a Kansas Church by Rickrolling them.

Phelps-Roper trained as a legal assistant and worked within the family law firm. When she wasn't working, she was an enthusiastic picketer who would fervently shout and sing during demonstrations at colleges, sports grounds, at protests and anywhere the congregation chose to target.

She was one of the many staunch WBC believers interviewed about her faith by Louis Theroux for his documentary, The Most Hated Family in America, and launched the Twitter arm of the WBC’s large online presence. Phelps-Roper became responsible for WBC social media, which would ultimately lead to her departure, and used it to tweet out warnings that the apocalypse was coming and they were going to burn in hell.

The 29-year-old is one of many members to leave WBC after becoming disillusioned by its vitriolic message. Speaking to The New Yorker, Phelps-Roper, who now lives in South Dakota, said her exit from the Church was part of a spiralling sense of disenchantment sparked by Murphy’s passing in 2009.

The US actress was 39 when she was found dead in her Los Angeles home. Phelps-Roper, who liked many young adults liked Murphy as an actress and had watched her in Clueless, became aware of her death through an outpouring of tributes on Twitter.

Murphy said the thousands of people mourning her death online and her own feelings towards Murphy made her suddenly hesitant to celebrate her death on Twitter.

“Lots of people were talking about going to picket her funeral,” she said. “I felt like I would be such a jackass to go on and post something.”

Over the next few years, Phelps-Roper began feeling increasingly at odds with the attitudes, expectations and actions of WBC, particularly as an all-made group of elders became increasingly powerful and dogmatic, leading her to question her faith.

”I just couldn't keep up the charade,“ she said. ”I couldn't bring myself to do the things we were doing and say the things we were saying.”

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