The 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.”