News | Religion | Westboro Baptist Church

Fourth Member Leaves Westboro Baptist Church, Touts Newfound 'Unconditional Love'

Zachphelps-roperThe fourth Phelps-Roper sibling has left the compound and gained an entirely new perspective on life. 23-year-old Zach Phelps-Roper (right) abandoned his sign-wielding, hate-mongering post with the Westboro Baptist Church on February 20, 2014, and while he says it has been difficult in many ways, it seems that the separation has also been a breath of fresh air.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports:

“I feel like I have unconditional love for every person around the world,” Phelps-Roper said Friday. “The Westboro Baptist Church sees things differently than I do now.”

He expressed a desire to extend that love and aid the community around him, as others have aided him over the past months.

Doctors have treated the back pain his parents wrote off as an attempt for attention.

Homosexuals have offered to buy him meals, drinks and shown him empathy and love.

At least 20 family members he was banned from speaking with for half a decade — including two sisters and a brother — have surrounded him with warmth and support.

The process was not altogether simple or easy, though. Phelps-Roper reportedly had a difficult time moving anything out of the house because of feelings of guilt and sadness around his decision to leave. However, his new perspective on God--as a benevolent rather than sadistic force--was enough to encourage the move.

Of course his level of contact with the family inside the compound has shifted.

If he wants to get in touch with someone inside, he said, he has been directed to contact another member of the family, though he wouldn’t disclose who.

Phelps-Roper said he harbors no ill will toward his family, understanding they are acting out of the same unshakeable beliefs in the Bible to which he once subscribed.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, mother to Zach and nine siblings, claims that her son's soul hangs in the balance with his decision to leave. A soul which, he claims, has never been stronger.

In his time outside the compound, he has grown to learn and appreciate different perspectives. He has identified his own “mind traps” — assumptions, beliefs, comparisons, desires, expectations and ideals that “keep you from being empathetic” — and debunked each one of them.

“I see so many problems, from economical to emotional,” he said. “Now that my mind is free from these mind traps, I can see clearly what needs to be done. I believe that empathy and unconditional love are what is absolutely necessary for us to free ourselves and each other from mind traps and from the many problems that are plaguing our society.”

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Comments

  1. News outlets will publish anything these days.

    Posted by: Jay | May 10, 2014 12:29:08 PM


  2. So glad that he has seen the Light. At 23, he's too young to stay with those haters. Welcome to the real world, and God Bless!

    Posted by: David From Canada | May 10, 2014 12:29:22 PM


  3. good for him

    Posted by: Moz's | May 10, 2014 12:38:28 PM


  4. It's too bad that so many of his family are haters.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | May 10, 2014 12:48:11 PM


  5. Are we still doubting that this is a cult? And why won't child protective services intervene?

    Posted by: Tigernan | May 10, 2014 12:51:12 PM


  6. Are we still doubting that this is a cult? And why won't child protective services intervene?

    Posted by: Tigernan | May 10, 2014 12:51:13 PM


  7. He has been shown the true light of love from Christ.

    Posted by: Dr. Christopher Blackwell | May 10, 2014 1:23:23 PM


  8. Kudos to Zach for breaking away from this inane cult! and, the best part is in a few short months, all the hatred and anti-gay bigotry he was taught for over 20 years was erased that gay people are human, not the monsters his family painted us to be

    Posted by: Bernie | May 10, 2014 1:26:10 PM


  9. He still sounds a bit off kilter with all the grandiose talk of seeing everything clearly and knowing how to solve the world's problems. Hopefully he comes down gently.

    Posted by: JJ | May 10, 2014 1:45:12 PM


  10. Someone needs to send the Topeka Capital-Journal a style guide, their use of "homosexual" is kinda offensive.

    Posted by: WayneMPLS | May 10, 2014 2:16:36 PM


  11. Best of luck to him. It's going to take years of hard work for him to heal the damage that cult did to him, but it looks like he's taken some significant first steps. Let's hope he is still happy once the euphoria wears off.

    Posted by: SteveP | May 10, 2014 2:34:49 PM


  12. Welcome to the world and humanity, Zach. We welcome you with open arms. I sincerely pray that God will bless you and surround you with people who love you and support you. Life outside Westboro is not perfect, but it is far more peaceful, joyful and loving and ACCEPTING of all God's creatures than life inside Westboro. Welcome to your new life! We're glad to have you with us.

    Posted by: Hawthorne | May 10, 2014 4:04:20 PM


  13. @JJ : everything probably does look pretty clear to him relative to the distorted view of reality that had been forced on him.

    Like anyone in that sort of situation, he'll need time to adjust. Giving him support is a smart move - the more people who successfully leave that "church", the easier it will be for the next ones to bail out, and the more that leave, the less credible bad-mouthing them will work to keep the remaining ones in line. The proverbial handwriting is on the wall, and this time it is in technicolor.


    Posted by: Bill | May 10, 2014 4:08:36 PM


  14. How does one atone for that kind of hate?
    Will he ask for forgiveness and will we grant it to him?
    I support what he has done on the surface but actions for atonement speak louder that simple words.

    Posted by: BrokebackBob | May 10, 2014 4:23:32 PM


  15. With the death of Westboro Baptist founder Fred Phelps earlier this year, I wonder if more family members will examine their own lives and beliefs and souls and in turn decide to liberate themselves from the Westboro cult.

    Posted by: MichaelJ | May 10, 2014 4:28:30 PM


  16. It will be difficult for young Zach as he attempts to disengage from that particularly onerous cult of evangelical christianity that he was raised in.

    People here need to understand that Zach in all honesty grew up as an abused child. Fundamentalist, evangelical christianity, with its strictures and proscriptions against just about anything, is a form of child abuse and child predation, mostly psychological.

    In spite of what he has endured at the hands of his rather repulsive parents and family, Zach sounds like he has found a way to deal with the after-effects and will eventually be able to, hopefully, become a whole person.

    But, he has found the key element for overcoming what he was endured, because it is essentially what Jesus taught and which always gets overlooked by the more extremist and pedantic elements of christianity and christians in general, and that is to do unto others as we would do to ourselves and to treat our fellow human beings, in fact all of God's creation, with unconditional love.

    With that as your foundation in this new phase of your life, Zach, you'll do quite well. Good luck, young man, and Godspeed to you.

    Posted by: jamal49 | May 10, 2014 4:28:50 PM


  17. The world is a horrible place filled with jerks and assholes of all faiths, creeds, and colors. Just out of the frying pan and into another fire.

    Posted by: Kissyfur | May 10, 2014 4:41:40 PM


  18. Cult leader dies; cult begins to fall apart.

    Posted by: Perry | May 10, 2014 6:13:38 PM


  19. I'm so happy for him. Breaking free from a cult you've been a part of since birth is an impossibility for most.

    Posted by: JMC | May 10, 2014 7:58:08 PM


  20. @ Jamal49 - you wrote this: "People here need to understand that Zach in all honesty grew up as an abused child. Fundamentalist, evangelical christianity, with its strictures and proscriptions against just about anything, is a form of child abuse and child predation, mostly psychological."

    That you would equate the Westboro church with "fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity" demonstrates that you know next to nothing about "fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity." Any and all in that group do not appreciate, and in fact condemn, what the Westboro folks do.

    Thanks for doing to "fundamentalist, evangelical" Christians what Westboro does to most communities in this nation: paint with a very large brush and group folks together in order to make them enemies and those who are "other" and therefore to be hated and despised. You are behaving just like those you oppose.

    Posted by: Jon | May 10, 2014 8:50:53 PM


  21. I wish we could save them all...

    Posted by: Buckie | May 10, 2014 9:27:05 PM


  22. @Jon - As someone who grew up in fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity, I think to suggest that no harm comes from that arena -- particularly to kids like me who hit puberty and realize they weren't 'like other kids' -- is an incorrect assessment, and I'd gather that's what Jamal was getting at.
    You can find people in any denomination who will pronounce that they are 'not all like that,' true, and there is certainly a big difference between WBC and evangelical Christianity, but those who understand fundamentalism from the inside -- and those who have been harmed by it -- can see the connection between the two.

    Posted by: antisaint | May 10, 2014 11:54:57 PM


  23. I'd call CPS on his parent(s) ASAP. Not treating ongoing physical conditions is a sign of insanity.Thankfully he got away from his nutbag relatives. They're psychopaths/sociopaths.

    Posted by: Patrick | May 11, 2014 5:17:27 AM


  24. The Westboro Church is not a church, it's a cult and like all cults it is evil.

    Posted by: Jim | May 11, 2014 11:14:33 AM


  25. "How does one atone for that kind of hate?
    Will he ask for forgiveness and will we grant it to him?
    I support what he has done on the surface but actions for atonement speak louder that simple words."

    If asked for forgiveness, I would give it without hesitation. I know many disagree with that, but my view is it does not do Zach or anyone any good to treat him in a similar manner as we would have if he were still actively against us. We can not change his past, clearly, but wanting Zach (or others) to go further than stopping anti-gay behavior, rejecting anti-gay ideals and family and not only speaking out on how wrong he was but promoting equality? That works just fine for me. I mean, a lot in our community still hold grudges against Mehlman and when he does try to "make amends" and do something for marriage equality or other LGBT issues he is blocked or greeted with anger. We need all of the support we can get, even if those supportes were not always on our side.

    Posted by: DEJ | May 16, 2014 3:44:10 PM


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