Libby Phelps-Alvarez, a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, got intensely-emotional in an appearance on “Anderson Live” on Tuesday. The granddaughter of Fred Phelps, the group’s founder, Alvarez described her history in the church, her departure — and she spoke with a military mother who was directly impacted by Westboro’s controversial picketing.
Despite growing up in the anti-gay church, Alvarez noted that she eventually began questioning its beliefs and tactics. After she inevitably left, she was shunned by her family. In speaking with host Anderson Cooper, the former Westboro adherent attempted to explain her participation in what she now views as hurtful antics.
“I just thought that I was doing the right thing, but I look back now and I see that I was hurting people,” she said during the interview, also adding that she thought at the time that she was being loving by telling people “that their sins were taking them to hell.”
It was when the mother of a fallen soldier spoke directly to Alvarez about how Westboro’s picketing impacted her family that the former church member broke down in tears.
“We want to commend you for being brave enough to leave that congregation,” the mother told Alvarez, going on to explain how she felt “dread” upon learning of Westboro’s plans to picket his funeral. “Our son died to ensure freedom of assembly, to ensure freedom of speech, to ensure freedoms for those that are white, black, gay, straight, rich, poor.”
Alvarez expressed sadness over what the woman went through and she began to cry. Watch the emotional segment, below:
(H/T: Huffington Post)