I was the same age as Megan Phelps-Roper when I began questioning everything I’d been raised to believe. And at 27, she has taken a giant step and left Westboro Baptist Church with her sister.
I applaud this woman for this courageous decision. While I do believe her family is absolutely evil, they are still her family. And this choice has left her completely estranged from them. But she still made the right choice, knowing the consequences that would befall.
The act of leaving Westboro is as weird as the church itself. Sometimes it’s described as a shunning process, but that’s not entirely apt. It is, in the eyes of the remaining members, a sort of death, but it’s a gentle one, because the carcass isn’t just dumped or ignored. One church member, who has lost two of his kids to the outside world, told me that he still loved them and that he set them up as best they could with what they’d need to start their new lives—some money, some household goods, even a car.
Megan didn’t leave alone; her sister Grace decided to go with her. They stayed just one night in Topeka. Then, after returning to their family home to retrieve some things they’d not packed the night before—“it was so weird and horrible to ring the doorbell,” Megan says—they left town.
I know from personal experience that it was not an easy choice, and her life was far more insulated than mine. And going public with this decision is even worse. Not only has she isolated herself from her friends and family, but now she has to face the entire world and own up to her past mistakes.
“I definitely regret hurting people,” she says. “That was never our intention. We thought we were doing good. We thought it was the only way to do good. And that’s what I’ve always wanted.”
That’s not how the message was received. “I think I’ve known that for a long time, and I would talk to people about how I knew the message was hurtful,” Megan says. “But I believed it couldn’t matter what people felt. It mattered that this was what God wanted.”
“I don’t feel confident at all in my beliefs about God. That’s definitely scary. But I don’t believe anymore that God hates almost all of mankind. I don’t think that, if you do everything else in your life right and you happen to be gay, you’re automatically going to hell. I don’t believe anymore that WBC has a monopoly on truth.”
This girl is pretty amazing, if you ask me.
And according to other sources, there have been other members of WBC who have decided to pull away from the church as well.
Little by little, chinks in the armor of the WBC are showing. Eventually there will be nothing left. It’s taken years, but the younger generation is finally starting to see that what they’re being taught simply doesn’t make sense. There is still hope.