No Filter: Why Meghan Phelps-Roper left her family.

Megan’s family are the core members of the Westboro Baptist Church, an extremist Christian group founded by her grandfather, the late pastor Fred Phelps, in the US state of Kansas.

Despite only having a few dozen members, the church’s practices have earned them significant global attention, including from British documentarian Louis Theroux whose 2007 film dubbed them “The Most Hated Family in America”.

That reputation is largely due to the church’s protests against supposedly sinful minorities, including gay people, Jews, and Muslims.

She was just five years old when she first joined her family on the picket line. At her mother’s instruction, she left her dolls in the family van and hoisted a sign that she couldn’t even read yet: ‘Gays are worthy of death.’

It wasn’t until Megan was in her 20s that the inoculation of her faith began to fail. It happened via Twitter.

Megan became the church’s spokesperson on the social media platform, where she’d echo its hate-filled interpretation of God’s word.

She started to build rapport with some of her critics. As she described in her 2017 TED talk (which has been viewed more than 10 million times), “the line between friend and foe was becoming blurred. We’d started to see each other as human beings, and it changed the way we spoke to one another.”

These conversations began to sow seeds of doubt in Megan’s mind.

[O]ne day, while talking with her sister, Grace (who had also raised doubts about their church’s doctrine), Megan arrived at a question that threatened their entire worldview. It was a deceptively simple and hugely consequential one.

“What if we’re all just people?”

In 2012, Megan and Grace found the courage to leave Westboro Baptist Church.

From there, she put herself in a position to have her views actively challenged, to understand different perspectives. She even wrote an apology for the damage she did during her time with the church. She found most people were receptive and encouraging, especially those she’d sparred with on Twitter.

Her latest project is the hugely popular podcast, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, which examines the various controversies around the Harry Potter author, including her comments on gender identity. (It’s the only interview Rowling has given on the subject.)

Through it all, Megan has come to understand the danger of moral certainty — not just for her or her former church, but all of humanity.

Source: No Filter: Why Meghan Phelps-Roper left her family.

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