The granddaughters of Fred Phelps, Megan Phelps-Roper and her younger sister Grace Phelps-Roper, have left the hate group known as the Topeka, Kansas congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church. The sisters issued a statement Wednesday in which they revealed that they recently left the WBC.
The Westboro Baptist Church is infamous for their protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers’, desecrating the American flag, and threatening to protest the funeral of the Newtown Principal — all in the name of gay hate. Megan Phelps-Roper had been serving as the face of the organization over the last several years.
The sisters posted a statement on social media Wednesday titled, “Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise” in which they wrote, “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.”
In choosing to leave the WBC, the sisters have also lost their families. They write, “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.”
Megan Phelps-Roper told Jeff Chu of The Guardian that the seeds of doubt over her views were sown during conversations with an Israeli web developer, in which he pointed out that Jesus wanted people to have the opportunity to repent:
“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.”
After researching and soul searching, Megan concluded to Chu, “The idea that only WBC had the right answer seemed crazy. It just seemed impossible.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the church as a hate group, “Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America. The group is basically a family-based cult of personality built around its patriarch, Fred Phelps.”
Americans have stood together to obstruct the WBC, such as when 300 bikers rolled into Joplin, Missouri to protect the crowd from the WBC protesters.
Out here in the real world, the sisters are finding more of their old views debunked as well. Megan Phelps-Roper told The Star, “We’ve really appreciated the supportive words people have shared with us today. The environment we grew up in was very ‘us vs. them’; it’s been nice to see that the ‘them’ have been overwhelmingly kind — as we’d kind of hoped and suspected.”
This proves that there is hope for a certain segment of our population who’ve been brainwashed into hating gays, undocumented workers, minorities, women on birth control, and so much more. David Abitbol’s tolerance, patience and compassion planted the seeds that started Megan’s journey of questioning what she had been taught as the one right way.
The human spirit never ceases to amaze me; it takes great courage to be willing to endure the rejection of your entire family and it takes a lot of tolerance to continue conversing with someone whose views you might find repugnant. A head full of doubt led to a road full of promise for these two sisters.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.