1. disgusted american says

    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

  2. zeddy says

    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.

  3. rustytrawler says

    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.

  4. Bill says

    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).

  5. Jay says

    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.

  6. andrew says

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

  7. ripper says

    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.

  8. Mikey DallasM says

    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.

  9. antisaint says

    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.

  10. QJ201 says

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

  11. says

    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

  12. BobN says

    So now they’re going to want us to repent?

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

  13. Opinionated says

    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.

  14. says

    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.

  15. says

    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”?

  16. midwest as well says

    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.

  17. rustytrawler says

    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.

  18. Barb J says

    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.

  19. Sam says

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

  20. says

    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.

  21. natamaxxx says

    I happen to know a mid-western couple that come from very Westboro-like upbringing. They have been taught nothing but hate and intolerance since day one of their lives, and their marriage was practically arranged! They sometimes remark about how they’re not “supposed” to be tolerant of people who aren’t like them – it’s what they were taught. Whenever we discuss something like this, they usually tell me how mournful they are for the lack of enrichment in their upbringings that comes from learning about, accepting, knowing and loving others of different races, faiths, sexuality, etc… They’ve told me about potential friendships, relationships and connections that they wanted to have or could have had were it not for how much they were taught to hate others in this world. Even after turning 18 it’s extremely hard to walk away from all that simply because it’s all coming from your own family. Your own flesh and blood that love and care for you yet hate others. It’s a tough situation to walk away from. My friends haven’t seen or spoken to most members of their families for years now and it hurts them to know that they will probably never see their parents or siblings again. They say that to this day, they have trouble not immediately (internally) reacting to certain people in a certain way. Obviously they’ve learned to suppress these feelings, but they really wish they could make it so that they never feel that way. I have seen their transformation over the last few years, and they have become a lovely couple that are certainly more tolerant towards others. They remain true to their Christian faith, but prefer to focus it towards the good it can do for the world. It takes time, and effort but it is achievable, and I certainly hope this is just the first step for the Phelps sisters. They cannot undo the pain and suffering brought upon others but they can certainly work to make peoples lives better today, and that is what they must do. They have opened themselves up to a life of tolerance and acceptance, so it’s up to us to remain open to the thought of forgiving them.

  22. Billy Crytical says

    Hebrews/ Jews started this fire and they never acknowledge it. They don’t want scrutiny that they have caused suffering of gay people for thousands of years. They need to reexamine their holy books to cut that stuff out.

    As far as these two, you never know what they will do. They might go back. They actually might have left because their dating prospects were limited not only because of their beliefs, activities but because of the strange family.

  23. KsBrian says

    It’s about time they saw the light. Oh, and better research please, they are granddaughters of Fred, nieces to Nate.

  24. Lars says

    The thing that always gets me about WBC and the Phelps family in particular is that these are clearly intelligent and well-educated people. Batsh*t crazy, no doubt, but somehow still really intelligent and even — gasp — thinking people.

    To see some of the kids escape is beautiful not just because of the miracle of breaking free from their brainwashing. But also because now those smart brains can be put to good use.

  25. luminum says

    If you would read the interview, she isn’t saying that gays need to repent.

    The interview describes that the “gays should repent” idea was the first thing she thought that went against Westboro’s “gays should die” statement. From there, she describes that more and more things ended up conflicting as she learned that there were so many religious philosophies out there, and that Westboro couldn’t have a monopoly on knowing the “right” answer.

    She then states that she no longer believes that a gay person would go to hell just for being gay.

    It was a progression of thought, that sadly gets misconstrued on Towleroad. We should applaud Megan’s transformation from the ugly and poisonous circumstances of her upbringing.

  26. Vito M says

    So she is living in NYC now? Great! She should go and volunteer at the Ali Forney Center and try to undo the work and hurt to which she contributed.

  27. Bill says

    @Vito M: while it would be nice if she would volunteer, keep in mind that she is going to need time just to learn how to live on her own in the real world. Her “family” probably did everything it could to keep her dependent on them. At this point, you don’t even know if she is employable. Being a member of the Phelps Freaks is not exactly an item you’d want on a resume and that may be the only “work” experience that she has had.

    It’s really important that people be supportive of her – otherwise the others “left behind” will feel even more trapped. If it is the younger members who bring in most of the cash, losing them would hurt Fred Phelps where it really hurts – his wallet. Plus, it is a good guess that Fred Phelps is a control freak. Having no one to control would be devastating for him, turning his life into a figurative Hell on Earth.

    It would actually make a compelling film – an account of life with the Phelps’ family, with control-freak Freddie dominating everyone as he spews his message of hate, and at the end, he ends up totally isolated and dejected, a prisoner of his own ego, which prevents him from apologizing to his descendants and asking their forgiveness. It would be an American equivalent of der Unterfall psychologically. And you won’t have to make a parody of the original:

  28. says

    No, it’s not all due to their upbringing. This whole parade of self promoting hatred followed by even more dramatic “break away repentance” is quite nauseating.

    Even more nauseating is the attention this worthless piece of non-news is attracting on this post.

    Let’s get over the “forgiving” babble and simply dismiss this family and its ill bred whelps with the contempt they deserve.
    I, for one, am not in the mood for forgiving their enthusiastic hatred nor am I gullible enough to see any merit in their new-found publicity driven epiphany.To those of you who are “forgiving” I say that you are driven by a similar religious veneer that underlies these fundamentalists. A veneer of superficial piety……which is quite embarrassing. There is no forgiveness for such threadbare self centred opportunism as these Damascus moment publicity whores crave.

    As far as I’m concerned they can crawl back into the fetid hole from whence they came and maybe in another eon they will evolve a vertebrae and slither on to the land.
    In the mean time abject repentance might convince some but this Lady is not for turning.

  29. andrew says

    They did so many wicked and evil things to harm innocent people that they should do penance (community service) for at least 20 years and then people should mabye begin to think about forgiving them. In my opinion, at the top of the list of their evil deeds was the grief that they caused the families of the dead American military personnel at the funerals of the fallen warriors. Thats as close to unforgivable as it gets.

  30. oliver says

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

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


    shades of the Jenna Miscavige Hill book, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, published under the William Morrow imprint of HarperCollins

  31. Jack M says

    It’s a traumatic experience to grow up in a cult. Thankfully, walking away from that kind of a situation is the first step to regaining your humanity. We should not criticize, but rather support, those folks who have the strength to say no to cult life. They didn’t choose the environment in which they were brought up.

  32. ANON says

    I don’t know this girl, but I welcome her into a more open community of faith and I wish her peace and happiness. She sounds as though she’s carrying the burden of her past, and let’s hope she can set that down and move forward – we all deserve that opportunity. 😉

  33. distinguetraces says

    An ex-boyfriend grew up near their church – those kids go through hell.

    My prayers are with them both. Change is hard.

  34. kdknyc says

    I think that we should accept what they are saying about renouncing their upbringing, but just keep our eyes open until they actually show us that they’ve changed. People can and do change, and good for them if they actually do.

    In the meantime, being snarky/bitchy/hateful to them, would just be ammunition for their family to use to try to get them back.

    “See all those hateful people out there? We told you! You’re better off here with us!”

    Let’s not give the rest of that hateful family any help to keep the ones who want to break away, from doing so. Let the girls live their lives and let’s judge them on their good works (or lack thereof). Let time tell.

  35. Barb J says

    To the commenter saying that Megan may be unemployable – in Louis Theroux’s documentary The Most Hated Family in America it was revealed that Megan was attending college and she’s a very intelligent girl. She was studying law if I remember correctly, so she at least has some experience to her credit. No, the Phelps name isn’t impressive on a resume when the world knows what they’ve done but Megan shouldn’t be judged by that. She’s trying to start anew.

  36. says

    These comments are so gullible as to be astonishing. How easily we forgive/forget the disrespect, the contempt , the vitriol, the hostile hatred of these Phelps whelps.

    Ask the members of Rolling Thunder (who protected the mourners) do they forgive these harpies for their vicious disrespect of the military families burying their loved sons.
    There is no forgiveness for the hate from which they had their fifteen minutes of whore fame.

  37. Bill says

    @Barb: The documentary you mentioned was released in April 2007, so any description of Megan’s status is a good 6 years old. If you graduate from college or law school and spend a few years more or less out of the work force due to being a member of the Phelps Freaks, it is going to be held against you, just as a long period of unemployment might. And that doesn’t count the bad PR risk due to the Phelps Freaks being one of the most despised groups in the U.S.

    It is not merely a question of how intelligent she is. Rather, I was pointing out that she is in a difficult position, one where she probably needs some support while she adjusts.

  38. Barb J says

    @Bill I understand your position now. But despite the bad PR of being Phelps’ many of the family members have had jobs around their picketing schedule. Lauren Drain who left the church had a job as a RN before leaving. Admittedly, her last name was not Phelps which may have worked in her favor but from what I gather, many of the Phelps’ actually do have jobs beyond their pickets just as the children go to school. Former WBC members have spoken out and said that they were never hassled at school because, in spite of their beliefs, the kids (even as teens) were respectful and kind. I don’t think it’s too farfetched to determine Megan may have had a part-time job, and could find another. Of course, the press covering her departure might not make it easy but these girls deserve a fair shot at life. Grace is still young and seems like she could be a talented artist. Libby Phelps, who left the church before, seems to be doing okay for herself in regards to employment and general family life.

    @Jack if you watch documentaries with this family, you’ll see that they’re clearly brainwashed. It’s only when real life tests them that members seem to realize that leaving is the only way out. They were born into this. They didn’t ask to be. They were poor children, brainwashed from the start. They can’t be at fault for that when the adults were the ones doing the brainwashing. They deserve a fair chance.

  39. Bill says

    @Barb: Jobs with flexible enough hours for their picketing schedules are probably part-time jobs, so of course that would put her at a disadvantage relative to people with similar capabilities who had full-time jobs. Meanwhile, she has no safety net – she can’t move in with her parents if things get tight economically.

    You mentioned that they deserve fair shot at life. My guess is that they’ll need some support to do that, if only to the point of people telling them about job openings.

  40. Yeek says

    The irony is that as outcasts from their family AND and as individuals ridiculed by the mainstream, they may finally really start to understand gay people.

  41. Barb J says

    @Bill I’m not sure they were all working part-time. In the Louis Theroux documentary (sorry, I’m a huge fan of ol’ Louis) he observed that the church members upon adulthood are expected to have jobs and give 10% of their earnings to the church. That’s how they fund their pickets. I’m sure they work the pickets around work schedules and who is available can go. Not every church member attends the pickets every time, there are certainly more of them than the 12-15 standing on a street corner holding up signs. About 20 or so family members have left the church in recent years, so there is a possibility for them to meet up and support one another. Some of the members who have left have actually done so while the rest of the family were away on pickets and often they leave on their own, slipping away unnoticed. Another article said that Libby had been supportive of Megan and Grace when they left. Also when Steve Drain’s daughter left, they gave her money, a car, and even paid for her to stay in a hotel for a few nights until she found her own place. It’s very strange how they send them off and then all but erase them from the family but they have their own warped ideas about it being what God wants. All in all, it’s pretty interesting that they believe the few of them remaining are the only ones going to heaven.

    @YEEK Good point. The behavior that they were taught in the church was a learned behavior and they can forget it through experience, as well. They can learn otherwise. Like that movie American History X.

  42. Bill says

    @Barb: “expected to work” and “expected to work full time” are different things. Given Megan’s age, in a full time job, she would probably get 2 weeks of vacation per year. If you figure on two days minimum for each event they picket (one day for travel and one for picketing plus a return flight), that gives her time for 5 times picketing per year at most, with no other free time. Is that likely? Maybe you can find the number of times per year that she picketed while a church member. Also, do they expect female members to work as much as male members? That wouldn’t fit 1950s values, and the 1950s are too modern for that group.

  43. Dan B says


    I think you’re misunderstanding the kind of forgiveness and repentance that she’s talking about and that commenters here are talking about. It’s hardly fair to accuse people of a “false sense of piety” if you’re placing a religious interpretation on their words. Forgiving does NOT necessarily mean forgetting, and repenting does NOT mean getting a free pass. She has a long way still to go, and its reasonable for us to be wary and reasonable to expect her to take action to make concrete & substantial amends for the hurt she has caused. But in order to do that, she needs to be given the opportunity. That’s what repentance is about; not a free pass, but a chance to make amends.

  44. hh says

    I’m surprised they think they could still repent, after 27 years of living as Barbarians.

  45. LMFAO says

    I wonder who will be next to leave. 80 ‘special’ americans being the chosen ones. The church is nothing more than a way to get Fred Phelps pure hatred for gay people across to the public, as thats all they ever yell about in public. Watch their protests and documentaries on youtube. Shirley, his daughter, acts like a stubborn teen with the loudest voice in the room. She never gives straight answers and finds it difficult in interviews to explain herself clearly, despite having been a lawyer, just like Fred himself. I believe when they are both gone, the church will diminish, as the rest, as brainwashed as they may be, do not seem to have views that are as strong.

  46. says

    So proud of these girls for escaping this evil cult!

    Shame on the people who denounce them for that which they can’t control: being born into a cult and raised without even the most basic human pleasures. Children don’t have the option of rejecting this sort of indoctrination even if they WANTED to. They are the victims here, and they should be applauded for doing the right thing despite a lifetime of repression, guilt, fear and brainwashing.

    If you’ve never been trapped in a cult for all of your life, how dare you judge them? You know nothing. They are losing everything for the sake of doing what’s right and being true to themselves. Not many people today would be willing to sacrifice their homes, family and security for a principle. We could learn a lot from their bravery.