Megan Phelps-Roper | News | Shirley Phelps-Roper | Westboro Baptist Church

Two Phelps Children Defect from Westboro Baptist Church: VIDEO

Megan Phelps-Roper, who pioneered the use of social media at the Westboro Baptist Church, and her sister Grace have left the church, like their older brother Nate did years ago.

You may recall seeing Megan on Towleroad when we've posted her song parodies, set to Lady Gaga's "Telephone" and "Poker Face".

Watch a 2009 interview with Megan and Grace during one of their protests,
AFTER THE JUMP...

MeganWrites a soul-searching Phelps-Roper about herself and her sister Grace in a blog post called 'Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise - Turning Points:

There are some things we do know.

We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt.

We know that we dearly love our family. They now consider us betrayers, and we are cut off from their lives, but we know they are well-intentioned. We will never not love them.

We know that we can’t undo our whole lives. We can’t even say we’d want to if we could; we are who we are because of all the experiences that brought us to this point. What we can do is try to find a better way to live from here on. That’s our focus.

Up until now, our names have been synonymous with “God Hates Fags.” Any twelve-year-old with a cell phone could find out what we did. We hope Ms. Kyle was right about the other part, too, though – that everything sticks – and that the changes we make in our lives will speak for themselves.

Jeff Chu, editor at Fast Company, who first met Megan in 2011, tells the story of how and why they left, and what they have been doing since, HERE.

He talks about the "epiphany" moment she had, when she realized the church's "Fags can't repent" philosophy was flawed:

Her departure has hurt them already—she knew it would—yet there was no way she could stay. “My doubts started with a conversation I had with David Abitbol,” she says. Megan met David, an Israeli web developer who’s part of the team behind the blog Jewlicious, on Twitter. “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.”

Phelps and her sister disappeared for a while, and have been trying to find themselves, after having been told what to do and what to think their whole lives:

Once a constant Tweeter, she hasn’t posted anything online since October. “I don’t know what I believe, so I don’t know what to say,” she explains. “I haven’t been ready to talk about any of this.” She’s only doing so now, and briefly, because, she says, “I was so proactive before and vocal about the church. My name means something now to others that it doesn’t mean to me. I want people to know that it’s not now how it was.”

Watch a 2009 interview with Megan and Grace during one of their protests,
AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. maybe the phelps younger women are realizing that there is LIFE beyond thier crazy family....and well, they sure would liek to meet someone eventually who's not nuts...too

    Posted by: disgusted american | Feb 6, 2013 6:03:03 PM


  2. Me! Me! Me! Pay attention to meeeeeeee!!!

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Feb 6, 2013 6:04:12 PM


  3. You had your chance Anastasia!

    Seriously though, from the interview on the girls, from Mr. Chu: "Consider how traumatic it would be to know that your family is never supposed to speak to you again."

    The irony of this is hundreds of thousands of children are asked to leave their home because they are gay.

    Posted by: zeddy | Feb 6, 2013 6:13:07 PM


  4. In Louis Theroux's first piece on Westboro, there was something about Megan that struck me as smarter and more connected to Louis than the others, even though she was spouting all the same garbage as the others and telling him he would go to Hell, so I guess in a way I'm not surprised.

    If this is sincere -- and I think it is -- she IS thinking about the hundreds of thousands of people she hurt.

    Posted by: rustytrawler | Feb 6, 2013 6:18:23 PM


  5. It's kind of hard to pioneer the use of social media for a group while remaining isolated. By necessity,she ended up being exposed to many far more reasonable people, and it probably had an effect on her.

    The older Phelps must be pulling their hair out. "What's the matter with kids today?" (as the song goes).

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 6, 2013 6:19:25 PM


  6. Libby Phelps - Megan's cousin - has left too

    Posted by: Steve | Feb 6, 2013 6:20:15 PM


  7. The westboro cult is up there with Jamestown. If they had good intentions they would seek an actual persuading strategy. Hate is ill intended and they are sick with hate.

    Posted by: Jay | Feb 6, 2013 6:28:09 PM


  8. "We know that we have done and said things that hurt people" Really? If there only was a hell that they could burn in.

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 6, 2013 6:30:55 PM


  9. This story is fascinating.

    I want to hate her. But I read her blog post and the Jeff Chu feature about her, and she seems bright and genuinely regretful.

    I suspect she could also cash in on a book/movie deal.

    Posted by: ripper | Feb 6, 2013 6:33:08 PM


  10. as we say back home in alabama... Bless her heart.

    Posted by: Jeff M | Feb 6, 2013 6:38:31 PM


  11. My first inclination was to say "too bad, too late", but this girl was raised on nothing but hate from her earliest memories. Instead, I am inclined to give her a chance to find a better way. She is still mistaken to think she needs belief in Jeebus to find it, but this is a good start.

    Posted by: Mikey DallasM | Feb 6, 2013 6:41:54 PM


  12. I second Rustywalker's comment -- Louie Theroux did two documentaries on the family for BBC (both are on YouTube) and Megan always seemed like she had her head on correctly, but was clearly her mother's olden daughter and very brainwashed. They were also both on Tyra's show if I remember correctly, and even then, her mother's power seemed to have a hold on someone who was needing her own voice. Unlike other members of that family, the lot of the teenage girls actually seem like really nice people, and certainly Megan.


    Further, Kevin Smith has a friendly relationship with her via twitter, which in an of itself seemed like a change, despite them still preaching the same message. Having seen those docs, though, I'm honestly happy to hear it, I hope she and her sister finds their footing.

    Posted by: antisaint | Feb 6, 2013 6:47:31 PM


  13. think of her as a person raised in a cult who managed to escape. She was brainwashed since birth.

    Posted by: QJ201 | Feb 6, 2013 6:52:11 PM


  14. We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    People grow and change and we aren't our actions of the past but the people we are today. Everyone has the potential to do better,and everyone has the ability to forgive and be forgiven. it's easy to say and judge and say they were bad but we don't know what it was like to grow up for them. if we can't forgive them then we are no different then the church they left. the proof is in the pudding but we all should show them the love and forgiveness the religious claims to have to reenforce that we just as godly as anyone. love light and hope.
    Sr Iona

    Posted by: Eirc Hufford aka Sister Iona Dubble-Wyde | Feb 6, 2013 6:52:47 PM


  15. So now they're going to want us to repent?

    I think I preferred it when they just consigned us to damnation.

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 6, 2013 7:01:25 PM


  16. I am so confused about this for it still seems she believes in "hate the sin, love the sinner" which I have always found galling as hell.

    Still, this is excellent and she seems like a remarkable young woman that is throwing off the shackles of a lifetime of hateful indoctrination (certainly not an easy thing with THAT family) so more power to her and she has my full support and love.

    Posted by: Opinionated | Feb 6, 2013 7:05:53 PM


  17. I'm pretty sure Megan and Grace are the daughters of Shirley Phelps-Roper, making Fred Sr. (he has a son Fred Jr.), their grandfather, and Nate, their uncle, not brother.

    Posted by: triptotheouthouse | Feb 6, 2013 7:11:27 PM


  18. This is a pretty f'ing big deal.

    I too saw the first BBC piece, and Louis Theroux finds a truly notable connection with Megan, which he describes at some length. It's quite touching, actually. You can see a glimmer -- a spark -- of someone who's yearning to think for herself and find a way out. It was there even then.

    Why does the WBC get so much press? Is it because we'd like to portray ALL anti-gay faith perspectives as being just as abhorrent and unacceptable as the WBC is? Do we hope to conflate the horrific protests of soldiers with something as common and garden variety as a mere failure to even mention that gay people exist? That's happening in churches all over the world. Do we think that when a church ignores us, it's just as bad as carrying as sign saying that "Gay Sex Is Sin"?

    Posted by: GMB | Feb 6, 2013 7:22:20 PM


  19. NO ONE -- NO ONE -- chooses either their parents, or the environment of their childhood. NO ONE.

    Megan and Grace were absolutely defenseless against the brainwashing and behavioral conditioning in which they were completely immersed from Day One; and, at least until the day before their 18th birthday, had no legal way to escape. They literally know no other family. They had some of the most extremely bad luck imaginable.

    I heartily congratulate them on their move out. It's fantastic news. They are unlikely now to do any more harm to anybody. Perhaps, like Nate Phelps, they can use their extraordinarily tragic circumstances -- and apparent intellect -- to actually do some good in the world.

    I hope gays and others embrace them warmly.

    I hope Towleroad and its readers offer their support, rather than snideness. Megan and Grace will fully realize how awful their mom, etc. is, and how awful their own former actions were, in due time.

    (Anatasia, I find your comment above really, really unfortunate. I doubt she's doing this for attention. [Did you read the piece?] She's trying to begin to live as a human being.)

    Like Opinionated, she has my support and love as well.

    Posted by: midwest as well | Feb 6, 2013 7:27:05 PM


  20. So it went from "Kill Fags" to "Repent Fags"

    Posted by: unruly | Feb 6, 2013 7:30:13 PM


  21. For those who say she is still saying "hate the sin, love the sinner":I

    f you read both pieces, you get the sense that that is what led her out of Westboro, but she says she doesn't know what to think now.

    I think it's very touching and brave of her. I wish her the best.

    Posted by: rustytrawler | Feb 6, 2013 7:32:27 PM


  22. I hope the world will be kind to these two girls as they start their lives over. Show them the kindness, love and acceptance that their family refuses to show the world. Let them know the world is a lot better than the world they were exposed to.

    Posted by: Barb J | Feb 6, 2013 7:36:32 PM


  23. Good news, everyone!

    Posted by: anon | Feb 6, 2013 7:49:35 PM


  24. If anyone deserves forgiveness, it's this poor girl who grew up in such an awful family. Good for her. Never too late.

    Posted by: Sam | Feb 6, 2013 7:59:46 PM


  25. It's nice to see that there are some sane people in that clan of inbred hate-mongers. I wish Megan and Grace all the best in their journey of self-discovery.

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Feb 6, 2013 8:23:27 PM


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