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. @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.

    Posted by: Barb J | Feb 7, 2013 9:27:19 PM

  2. They finally figured out that old man Phelps is a closet case on crack!

    Posted by: billmiller | Feb 7, 2013 9:47:27 PM

  3. They finally figured out that old man Phelps is a closet case on crack!

    Posted by: billmiller | Feb 7, 2013 9:47:29 PM

  4. @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.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 8, 2013 12:21:20 AM


    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.

    Posted by: Dan B | Feb 8, 2013 4:54:14 AM

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

    Posted by: hh | Apr 14, 2013 3:13:44 PM

  7. 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.

    Posted by: LMFAO | Jul 11, 2013 12:33:47 AM

  8. Nate Phelps is not their older brother, but their uncle.

    Posted by: Name | Sep 20, 2013 3:06:15 PM

  9. 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.

    Posted by: Yes Homo | Mar 21, 2014 7:59:35 AM

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