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,

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,

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  1. 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.

    Posted by: natamaxxx | Feb 6, 2013 8:48:12 PM

  2. 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.

    Posted by: Billy Crytical | Feb 6, 2013 8:50:51 PM

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

    Posted by: KsBrian | Feb 6, 2013 9:18:21 PM

  4. 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.

    Posted by: Lars | Feb 6, 2013 9:26:20 PM

  5. Penitence is a beautiful thing...

    Posted by: JustSayin' | Feb 6, 2013 9:34:42 PM

  6. 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.

    Posted by: luminum | Feb 6, 2013 9:46:11 PM

  7. 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.

    Posted by: Vito M | Feb 6, 2013 10:15:06 PM

  8. @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:

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 6, 2013 11:16:41 PM

  9. I find myself in agreement with you Bill.

    Posted by: Vito M | Feb 6, 2013 11:23:42 PM

  10. 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.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 7, 2013 2:52:24 AM

  11. 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.

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 7, 2013 2:54:06 AM

  12. 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

    Posted by: oliver | Feb 7, 2013 3:37:38 AM

  13. 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.

    Posted by: Jack M | Feb 7, 2013 7:24:32 AM

  14. 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. ;)

    Posted by: ANON | Feb 7, 2013 9:03:20 AM

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

    My prayers are with them both. Change is hard.

    Posted by: distinguetraces | Feb 7, 2013 9:14:20 AM

  16. 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.

    Posted by: kdknyc | Feb 7, 2013 9:44:19 AM

  17. 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.

    Posted by: Barb J | Feb 7, 2013 9:55:08 AM

  18. 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.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 7, 2013 11:33:08 AM

  19. Screw her. God Hates Quitters.

    Posted by: beef and fur | Feb 7, 2013 11:55:05 AM

  20. @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.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 7, 2013 1:31:24 PM

  21. @ jay - LOL! Jonestown not Jamestown.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 7, 2013 2:07:35 PM

  22. @jackfkntwist, you care way too much.

    Posted by: Fensox | Feb 7, 2013 2:31:18 PM

  23. @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.

    Posted by: Barb J | Feb 7, 2013 5:05:21 PM

  24. @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.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 7, 2013 6:55:18 PM

  25. 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.

    Posted by: Yeek | Feb 7, 2013 8:23:00 PM

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