Woman who grew up with Westboro Baptist Church explains why she left

Metro, UK/March 7, 2017

By Nicole Morley

A woman who grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church has explained why she left.

Westboro Baptist Church are a notorious organisation known for using the funerals of fallen US soldiers to spread their hateful rhetoric.

The Baptist church, founded by Pastor Fred Phelps in Kansas during the 1950s, are often seen holding placards featuring offensive slogans against LGBT, Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox Christian and Jewish communities. They don’t appear to discriminate – when it comes to hate.

A key member who grew up within the church has explained why she had to leave.

Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, stood on her first picket line aged just five.

Megan, now 31, recalled: ‘I was a blue-eyed, chubby-cheeked five-year-old when I joined my family on the picket line for the first time.

‘My mom made me leave my dolls in the minivan. I’d stand on a street corner in the heavy Kansas humidity, surrounded by a few dozen relatives, with my tiny fists clutching a sign that I couldn’t read yet.’

Her first sign read ‘Gays are worthy of death.’

Throughout her childhood, protests were an almost daily occurrence and the group gained international notoriety.

Senior members of the church – including Megan’s family – framed life as a battle between good and evil, well-behaved members of the church and non-believing outsiders.

‘The good was my church and its members, and the evil was everyone else. My church’s antics were such that we were constantly at odds with the world, and that reinforced our otherness on a daily basis,’ she explains in a revealing Ted talk.

It was 20 years before Megan got a glimpse of the outside world, via social media, when in 2009, she joined Twitter.

‘Initially, the people I encountered on the platform were just as hostile as I expected. They were the digital version of the screaming hordes I’d been seeing at protests since I was a kid. But in the midst of that digital brawl, a strange pattern developed. ‘

‘They would be understandably confused and caught off guard, but then a conversation would ensue. And it was civil — full of genuine curiosity on both sides. How had the other come to such outrageous conclusions about the world?’

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