Anderson Cooper | Fred Phelps | Libby Phelps Alvarez | News | Westboro Baptist Church

Westboro Baptist Church Defector Libby Phelps Alvarez Talks to Anderson Cooper: VIDEO


On his daytime show, Anderson Cooper welcomed Libby Phelps Alvarez, who defected from the Westboro Baptist Church, to talk about why they do what they do, how they treat her now that she is gone.

Phelps Alvarez also tearfully apologized to a soldier's mother whose son's funeral was picketed by the WBC.


Note: The interview was previewed back in February, and we ran a shorter clip then, but apparently it aired in full today.


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  1. Good for her leaving that hate filled group of worthless individuals. What a lovely women the mother of that solider is and my heart goes out to her and her family

    Posted by: bructer | May 7, 2013 1:22:43 PM

  2. As an ex-Mormon, I can totally relate to how she thought she wasn't doing wrong by what she was doing.

    Posted by: Ulu | May 7, 2013 1:50:13 PM

  3. Also, I really hope she has a good therapist and health plan. Having to go out into the world after coming out of that extreme religious bubble is very difficult.

    Posted by: Ulu | May 7, 2013 1:52:06 PM

  4. Good for her. It took a lot of courage to leave and even more to admit that she was wrong.

    Posted by: Frank | May 7, 2013 2:22:45 PM

  5. Very moving...and at the same time, very frightening. These creatures really believe they're doing something "good". Horrifying!

    Posted by: Geoff | May 7, 2013 2:36:22 PM

  6. I hope she's able to build a good life and overcome the damage created by religion.

    Posted by: Ken | May 7, 2013 2:38:41 PM

  7. Very interesting TV show!

    Posted by: | May 7, 2013 2:45:19 PM

  8. I would like to see her work to repair the damage she has caused. One apology and an appearance on Anderson isn't enough. She has a lot of work to do and there are plenty of LGBT volunteer opportunities for her.

    Posted by: HirsuteHeuristics | May 7, 2013 3:56:31 PM

  9. Just because one thinks one is doing the right thing is cold comfort to those you are viciously hurting in their hour of grief and in their bereavement.
    You could have done the right thing by praying for these 'sinners' to repent, as your religion tells you.
    But no, you wanted to parade in public and offend and sneer and feed your thirst for publicity.
    And your self righteousness is no excuse or explanation for your barbaric can think for themselves and you were no kid.

    I would make a very bad Christian because I think your tears are for the occasion, and you have been hooked on the publicity of the public parade.

    Now go repent in a comparative manner, go preach in favour of gay rights and the love which your god has for all his Uganda.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | May 7, 2013 4:23:42 PM

  10. Poor thing. Not. The only things that were required of her to know she was doing the wrong thing are called empathy/sympathy and sanity. No human being with the ability to empathize would do the things she and Westboro do.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 7, 2013 4:49:01 PM

  11. I have great sympathy for her.She was an innocent child indoctrinated into that hate filled nonsense,just like the rest.I'm so happy that she is free from that mental enslavement.

    Posted by: Mikah | May 7, 2013 5:12:26 PM

  12. It's to see that she could realize how wrong WBC was and leave. I know people who have been in similar "churches" before that were very controlling of their members. I hope that she can find peace and not feel conflicted inside.

    Posted by: | May 7, 2013 7:02:05 PM

  13. The Westboro cult is completely disgusting. I'm sure God will have his say about their treatment and judgement of their fellow brother and sister [us].

    Posted by: Jay | May 7, 2013 7:55:01 PM

  14. @JackFknTwist & ratbastard, she was programmed like that from infancy. In other interviews she said that the cult kept her from interacting with the outside world. How and at what point was she supposed to learn that this wasn't proper behavior? Is it so unreasonable to imagine that the family exploited an infant/child's natural born empathy to make her believe that she was helping the families or the fallen soldiers. Seems reasonable to me. Cult leaders are geniuses when it comes to psychological manipulation. I imagine it's even easier when you have the brain to work with from birth.

    I don't blame her one bit. I'm actually shocked that a person in that position was able to figure out that was she was doing was wrong. (for reference, I've read that she left in 2009 at 25 years old).

    Posted by: jr | May 7, 2013 9:54:43 PM

  15. I applaud Libby for being able to get herself clear of Westboro Baptist and for being strong enough to apologize to those she helped to hurt. Westboro is filled with hate. Almost to the point of loss of humanity. I can hardly imagine a life from infancy that was constantly filled with that kind of vitriol.

    Westboro is an extreme example but far from the only religious community that believes their treatment of the LGBT community is right. Organized religion is the major obstacle in our struggle for civil rights.

    Posted by: JONES | May 7, 2013 11:54:58 PM

  16. "She has a lot of work to do and there are plenty of LGBT volunteer opportunities for her. "

    Someone who used to be homophobic and was known for it would have a hard time being accepted as a volunteer at an organization dedicated to LGBT issues. She probably wouldn't be trusted, as she's a recent "convert." I corresponded a while back with someone from Towleroad who had advised me not to tell people that I'm a social conservative who once opposed marriage equality if I ever decide to work on LGBT causes.

    Posted by: Mary | May 8, 2013 12:08:22 AM

  17. "She has a lot of work to do and there are plenty of LGBT volunteer opportunities for her. "

    Believe it or not, she has done exactly this, and has come out in favor of gay rights, as well as worked with an organization in her hometown devoted to anti-bullying initiatives. There was an article in the NY Post several weeks ago.

    Do some research before passing judgment. This girl had a lot of courage to do what she did. We should welcome her with open arms.

    Posted by: Berkley | May 8, 2013 12:49:03 AM

  18. @JackFknTwist @ratbastard: possibly the most effective method of punishing Fred Phelps is to make him see his congregation dwindle to zero, and the easiest, legal way to do that is by providing support for anyone who wants to leave, particularly people who grew up in that rat's nest.

    When Libby left, she didn't have much money and had trouble getting by financially. She split when her parents were out of town protesting something. It was anything but risk free for her - what the Phelps klan could not do to her, homelessness and starvation could so she was lucky to get a job in time and meet her future husband.

    It's very hard to find anyone who would join the WBC as an adult, so "making babies" is how they keep their "church" going. If they raise kids for 20 years only to have those kids fly the coup, the whole enterprise becomes unsustainable.
    I don't know how many would like to leave or are thinking about it, but if any are, knowing that they would have someone on the outside to turn to could be just the incentive they need.

    Posted by: Bill | May 8, 2013 2:18:12 AM

  19. Several WBC members are alos fighting for the U.S., because they (those members) work for the Kansas dept. of Corrections, which is also a govt job, and they recieve taxpayer-funded salaries, just as U.S. troops do.

    Posted by: brian | May 8, 2013 7:54:15 AM

  20. alvarez is a female judas she sold out the heathen life is the easy way out our military vets give us the freedom to sin more.

    Posted by: thomas | May 8, 2013 10:39:37 AM

  21. Also look for and read the book "Banished"
    about another woman who escaped after being
    brought up with the Westboro Wingnuts.

    Posted by: Bob | May 9, 2013 10:06:05 AM

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