She also disagreed with church elders that pressured her into posting doctored photos church picketing events such as the British Royal Wedding and the funeral of Whitney Houston. Phelps-Roper: It wasn’t so much that I was given a curfew as that my mother directed everything about my life.  Phelps-Roper’s mother was not married to her first son's father when the child was born. Megan Phelps-Roper. Westboro was an insular community, as the family/congregation lived together on the same block, and Megan Phelps-Roper had no real friends outside of the church growing up. , Phelps-Roper and her family created parodies of pop-culture songs to spread Westboro Baptist Church's theology. Megan Phelps-Roper was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church and its radical Christian doctrine Credit: Supplied But over the following decades Megan, now 34, would become one of the church's staunchest firebrands, participating in some of its notoriously despicable shock publicity tactics at the instruction of her older relatives. Megan Phelps Roper was born in 1986 on 31 January and is now 30 years old. , Phelps-Roper considered leaving the church in April 2012 when the song "Just One" by Blind Pilot played on her stereo. They stayed at the home of a Hasidic rabbi and his family and discussed theology with them. What are your hopes for the future, personally and professionally? During this discussion, Phelps-Roper encouraged her sister to leave the church with her, and they announced their intention to their parents. A person with the alias C.G. Were you given a curfew and watched closely as an adult woman in the church? Did this stand in the way of making friends at school and college, and how did you navigate teenage life without a network of girl pals? Her beliefs in the preachings of hatred towards uncommon cultural development were quite strong. 4K likes. In 2019, she released her memoir Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope, leaving the Westboro Baptist Church. The ceremony included a profession of faith and concluded with Phelps-Roper becoming a full member of the church. In 2009 she became an active member on Twitter to preach the church's doctrine. Megan Phelps-Roper was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church, the Topeka, Kansas, church known internationally for its daily public protests against members of the LGBT community, Jews, the military, and countless others. Jon Ronson is an … Her beliefs in the preachings of hatred towards uncommon cultural development were quite strong.  Reporters and documentary filmmakers also came to her home to speak with her. Megan Phelps-Roper (born January 31, 1986) is a former member and spokesperson of the Westboro Baptist Church.Her mother is Shirley Phelps-Roper and her grandfather is the church's founder Fred Phelps.She grew up in Topeka, Kansas in a compound with other members of the church. Megan and Louis are now … At this point, the former beliefs that surface most often have to do with parenting. She picketed various events including the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the funerals of soldiers who died in the War in Afghanistan and the War in Iraq. McMurdock: Despite being wary of strangers, you developed a trusting relationship on Twitter, even falling in love. She did not release a celebratory post on Twitter, as she had done with other celebrity deaths, and disagreed with the church's happiness over celebrity deaths and other events that seemed tragic to people outside their group. This didn’t bother you because you’d been raised dealing with such verbal attacks. Megan Phelps-Roper (born January 31, 1986) is a former member and spokesperson of the Westboro Baptist Church. She is a member of Twitter's Trust and Safety Council and works with law enforcement agencies to combat extremist groups. When interviewers wanted the perspective of a younger member of the church, her mother would often have them interview Phelps-Roper. She also uses Twitter to monitor changes in the church's beliefs and to learn new information about her family's personal lives. The granddaughter of Westboro’s founding pastor, Fred Phelps, she was raised in a church that preached hate against homosexuality and held demonstrations displaying hate-filled signs outside of the funerals of members of the LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities. Later a member was asked to leave the church by a majority vote instead of unanimous consent. Specifically, the film will cover Megan Phelps-Roper, the now-31-year-old former WBC member who left the church in November 2012, and David Abitbol, the Jewish blogger … That definitely stopped me from making true friends of my classmates. Well, Megan Phelps-Roper, for one. Megan Phelps-Roper was born to hate, joining her family at an anti-Gay picket at just 5 years old. This memoir details her upbringing in the Westboro Baptist Church and her decision to leave her community and family.  She works with law enforcement agencies to give her perspective on deradicalizing members of extremist organisations and counterterrorism. McMurdock: You talk about how great it is to have freedom now, even cherishing walking down the street alone. , In 2019, Phelps-Roper appeared in Louis Theroux's third documentary about the Westboro Baptist Church Surviving America's Most Hated Family. The fact that tweets were only 140 characters, too, gave me the sense that my engagement there wasn’t the kind of deep connection that could get me in trouble. That if I had any hope of lasting change, I would need to be very deliberate about putting myself in situations to challenge those beliefs and to create new memories and associations. Megan Phelps-Roper was five when her parents first put a picket sign in her hands. They were keeping us from veering off the path, and any attempt on our part to push back against that was seen as rebellion — an indicator that our hearts weren’t in the right place. , At age 13, Phelps-Roper was baptized into the Westboro Baptist Church by her grandfather. Megan Phelps Roper Bio, Wiki, Age, Height. Theroux was criticised for including this in the documentary, with one reviewer stating the revelation exploited Phelps-Roper's emotions and was uncomfortable to watch. Is there any way the two of you could lay your differences aside to just be mother and daughter? , As an adult, Phelps-Roper continued doubting the church's doctrine and discovered contradictions within the church's beliefs.  Church elders encouraged the children to memorize Bible passages that the church used to justify the group's protests and provide counter-arguments to people who disagreed with them. Grace (left) and Megan Phelps-Roper, former Westboro Baptist Church members, picket the 2010 Academy Awards (Flickr: k763). McMurdock: You were taught to be suspicious of the kindness of strangers. The activist and TED speaker Megan Phelps-Roper reveals her life growing up in the most hated family in America At the age of five, Megan Phelps-Roper began protesting homosexuality and other alleged vices alongside fellow members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. , Phelps-Roper encourages Twitter to remove bots and posts which advocate harm to others. He's showing my family—who have cut me out of their lives, but who will surely watch this documentary—my candid reaction to this news", "Megan Phelps-Roper returns to Topeka to launch book 'Unfollow, "Megan Phelps-Roper: If You're Raised To Hate, Can You Reverse It? Megan Phelps-Roper is an American inspirational personality, author, blogger, and former spokesperson of the Westboro Baptist Church.She became a member of the church since the day she was born as her grandfather was a pastor of the church. Samantha McMurdock: When you first joined Twitter, you were trolled in the most heinous ways (death threats, threats of sexual attacks, etc.).  Phelps-Roper stated that the church's strict beliefs were reinforced through this training and that, "as a child, it is physically beaten into you". McMurdock: What advice would you give 16-year-old Megan — and do you think she would take it? McMurdock: You still send your mother greeting cards. She is the daughter of Brent Roper and Shirley Phelps Roper. Megan Phelps-Roper. (Photo courtesy of Megan Phelps-Roper ), Megan Phelps-Roper explains how her family micromanaged church members and how Twitter eventually led her to understanding, “Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church.”, making a one-time or recurring gift today, I never looked back: Terry Gilliam was always drawn to Britain, Opinion | The real impact of universal preschool and a tax on the 5%, Athletics Director Valerie Cleary stands out at Portland State, Bill Bailey and the first American revolt against the Nazi flag | Book Review, He was dying, but he was free: Special report tells the tragic and brutal story of Billy Baggett. I reject the authoritarian style of parenting that I experienced particularly from my mother. To request permission to reuse content, email firstname.lastname@example.org.  At 13, Phelps-Roper was debating Westboro Baptist Church sceptics in the church’s chat rooms and was an active member of the church’s logistical and legal operations. They celebrated their big day in the company of their friends and the new family they found. In 2011, Phelps-Roper burst into tears after seeing a photograph of a malnourished child living through the Somalia famine. , She is married to Chad Fjelland, an attorney whom she met through Twitter while advocating for the Westboro Baptist Church. Virtually shunned since leaving the church, Phelps-Roper yearns for her relatives to join her by rethinking their ideas. In this book, she covers the history of the Westboro Baptist Church. She was raised in Westboro Church by her mother, with her siblings, Rebekah Phelps-Roper, Joshua Phelps-Roper, Isaiah Phelps-Roper, and Samuel Phelps-Rop. She acknowledges that cutting off contact with former members and a belief of an imminent end to the world are cultish beliefs.  They moved to South Dakota after visiting the Black Hills. Reese Witherspoon, known for playing Elle Woods in Legally Blonde and for starring in/producing recent HBO hit Big Little Lies, is producing a film about the “God Hate Fags” folks from the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). Megan Phelps Roper and her husband Chad Fjelland enjoying their holiday. Following her departure, Phelps-Roper became a prominent critic of the group's philosophy and practices. Louis Theroux with Megan's mum, Shirley Phelps-Roper, who became a spokesperson of sorts for the church Credit: BBC. , Another point of contention for Phelps-Roper was how decision-making within the church changed.  She liked using Twitter because it allowed her to share theology directly to people, instead of through a reporter. However, she believes that being allowed to leave the group and her parents' help to pack her belongings are examples of non-cultlike actions of the group. Phelps-Roper: It was certainly a process to overwrite the beliefs of Westboro that had become instinctive to me. Megan Phelps-Roper was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church - the fire-and-brimstone religious sect at once aggressively homophobic and anti-Semitic, rejoiceful for AIDS and natural disasters, and notorious for its picketing the funerals of American soldiers. I’ll keep working toward that end as I keep writing and reaching out to her and the rest of our family. Phelps-Roper felt both events violated the church's interpretation of scripture and went against the group's concept of leadership. , Every Sunday, Phelps-Roper's family attended her grandfather's service and listened to him preach what he claimed was a strict interpretation of Calvinist doctrine. Happily Married: Megan posts a picture with her husband during the wedding via Twitter on 15 August 2016 (Photo: Megan Phelps-Roper’s Twitter) Megan and her husband have been married for more than two years, and their happiness is set out to be quite long-lived with the arrival of their daughter, Solvi Lynne on 6 October 2018. The granddaughter of Westboro’s founding pastor, Fred Phelps, she was raised in a church that preached hate against homosexuality and held demonstrations displaying hate-filled signs outside of the funerals of members of the LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities. Do you remember your early days picketing, and were you frightened?  In October 2015 she spoke at the Anti-Defamation League's Youth Leadership Conference. , Church members Photoshopped images and falsely claimed that they protested the Royal Wedding in the United Kingdom and Whitney Houston’s funeral. She sent the essay to a friend who encouraged her to write the book. She is now committed to reaching out to people that she affected during her time with the group, including Jewish communities, homosexuals and the families of soldiers. Megan Phelps-Roper was the subject of a profile in The Kansas City Star in 2011, which described her as “peppy, goofy and, by all accounts, happy”. Megan Phelps-Roper was born in Topeka, Kansas, on January 31, 1986, and is the eldest daughter of Shirley Phelps-Roper and Brent Roper. More effective, I think, would be a series of conversations, developing rapport and gently pointing out the internal inconsistencies in Westboro’s doctrines. , Since leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, Phelps-Roper has reconnected with Abitbol who convinced her to atone for, and fix, her mistakes in a Jewish concept called tikkun olam. Megan Phelps Roper… , In middle school, Phelps-Roper made friends that were not part of the WBC group and participated in extracurricular activities including running track, volleyball and musical theatre. I am absolutely gutted thinking about a new mom in this situation, and this baby girl who will never know her dad. 151d She stated she did not want others to believe that her lack of response to the protest was a tacit agreement of the church’s actions. The church protests against LGBTQ+ people, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Atheists, Soliders and their allies. , Phelps-Roper believes the Bible is not written by people under God's inspiration. , In 2010, Phelps-Roper filed a lawsuit claiming that Nebraska's law against desecrating the American flag infringed on her free speech rights. in Nebraska", "How One Woman Left the Hate Group She Grew Up In", "Lady Gaga Is 'Devil Spawn' in Westboro Baptist Church 'Telephone' Parody", "Granddaughters of an infamous homophobic U.S. pastor find grace in Montreal", "Granddaughters of Westboro Baptist's founder recall fleeing the church", "I Love You, America is chock full of empathy and naked people", "Long Time Leaving: PW Talks with Megan Phelps-Roper", Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope, leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Megan_Phelps-Roper&oldid=1000014383, Former members of the Westboro Baptist Church, CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown, Wikipedia articles with BIBSYS identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 13 January 2021, at 02:37. Megan Phelps-Roper To anyone who feels moved to help or share the gofundme set up by Maria’s family, thank you so very much. would discuss these events with Phelps-Roper online and asked her to consider a deceased family's response to her church's joy. When Twitter users discovered the doctored photos she agreed that church members committed the sin of bearing false witness. She disclosed her thoughts to her sister Grace, who convinced her to stay in the group.  Despite describing herself as an obedient child who worked hard to win the approval of her parents, she was regularly spanked during her childhood and teenage years. For FREE you can … Roper’s sister was the bridesmaid at the wedding. She also appeared as a regular guest on a Kansas City morning show, "Afentra's Big Fat Morning Buzz". Phelps-Roper: Louis had a lot of questions about what exactly had happened.  She spoke at the Jewlicious Festival in Long Beach, California at the invitation of David Abitbol and accepted a one-month engagement with the Jewish community in Montreal in 2013 where she visited religious studies classes at Concordia University and spoke at a Jewish cultural festival. The first inconsistency was outlined by David Abitbol, a Jewish Twitter user whom Phelps-Roper publicly contacted to encourage him to repent of his sins. They shared their beliefs and doubts with each other and continued discussing plans for leaving the church. Her mother is Shirley Phelps-Roper and her grandfather is the church's founder Fred Phelps.  She also picketted her public school during lunchtime and local sporting events.  In 2011, Phelps-Roper appeared in Louis Theroux’s documentary America's Most Hated Family in Crisis which included Phelps-Roper's explanation of her contact with four Dutch filmmakers.  Phelps-Roper defended Theroux's inclusion of the footage, stating she wanted her family members to see her unfiltered reaction to this information.  She protested major historical events like the funeral of Matthew Shepard, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the AIDS pandemic. People were incredibly angry about our signs and often attempted violence, but my family kept us safe — which just reinforced the narrative I was learning at Westboro Church: that we were the good guys, and outsiders were hateful and evil. We could be friendly and joke around, but I didn’t trust them at all. Outside of that, I don’t think she’d pay much attention to my advice.  During her youth, Phelps-Roper felt happy being close to her extended family members, both in her relationships and her physical proximity to them.  Phelps-Roper has travelled around the United States to speak with groups she previously protested. , Phelps-Roper avoids using the word "cult" to describe the Westboro Baptist Church. She rebelled against these changes because other members were given more leeway in their clothing choices by their fathers or husbands.  She kept her maiden name to, as she describes, “reform the legacy of the name.” Her daughter, Sølvi Lynne, was born in 2018. In 2012, she left the church and cut ties with much of her family, a story she recounts in her new book, “Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church.” She’s since become an advocate for overcoming conflicts between religious and political groups. Phelps-Roper: There was a verse my mom would quote: Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Only church members were acceptable friends. 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