The Westboro Baptist Church, the fiery group known for protesting against gays and at military funerals, is down two more members after Megan Phelps-Roper and her sister, Grace, announced in a statement that they have officially separated from the church. This is particularly noteworthy, as the two are the grandchildren of Fred Phelps, the man who became infamous as an anti-gay crusader after launching his Westboro "ministry" decades ago.
Megan Phelps holding anti-Lady Gaga signs (Photo Credit: Facebook)
In public comments published by Megan on Thursday, the 27-year-old shared viewpoints that differ greatly from offensive statements she once regularly made on social media. In the post, entitled, "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise," she announced that she and her sister are changing their ways. She wrote:
In a city in a state in the center of a country lives a group of people who believe they are the center of the universe; they know Right and Wrong, and they are Right. They work hard and go to school and get married and have kids who they take to church and teach that continually protesting the lives, deaths, and daily activities of The World is the only genuine statement of compassion that a God-loving human can sincerely make. As parents, they are attentive and engaged, and the children learn their lessons well.
This is my framework.
Until very recently, this is what I lived, breathed, studied, believed, preached – loudly, daily, and for nearly 27 years.
It is the "until very recently" portion of her words that leads to a litany of questions. Considering Megan's past activities, both picketing on the ground with Westboro and using new media to spread messages that the majority of society finds objectionable, this admission of a turn-around is noteworthy. It, of course, leaves many curiosities that are not fully addressed in her startling statement to the public.
Here's video of the girls when they were still in deep with the church:
What can be learned from the post, though, is that Megan never thought she would leave Westboro; she even admitted that she never wanted to change prior to her unintended ideological conversion. But with her sister, she is now attempting to figure out how to move forward outside of the church's bounds. After all, Westboro is a tight-knit and insolar community. Other individuals who have left were instantly shunned and entirely cut-off by church members. This is what Megan and Grace are now faced with.
"We know that we dearly love our family," she wrote. "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."
The letter acknowledges that the two know they have hurt the American people with their protesting, a fact they regret. But the note essentially embraces the notion that the past is the past, despite how ugly. Megan and Grace are leaving that all behind, as they are intent on trying "to find a better way to live from here on."
Over the past few months, Megan has been silent on Twitter, a platform she once took to daily to share her views about homosexuality and other issues important to the church. Her tweet on Thursday, which included a link to her statement, was the first public comment she's made since October. You can read the statement and learn more about why she left her church here.