”In my home, life was framed as an epic spiritual battle between good and evil…”
Megan Phelps-Roper grew up inside the very well-known and widely-hated Westboro Baptist Church. The specific church’s values, which do not reflect on the larger Baptist or Christian community, are values that seem to target negative feelings such as hate and intolerance. They are known for picketed the funerals of soldiers on behalf of causes that have nothing to do with the deceased. They not only target groups like the LGBTQ community and the Muslim community but they also target other sects of Christianity, a strong example being Catholicism.
The church, stemming from Topeka, Kansas, is a divisive group and it is hard to understand how smart, intelligent individuals get caught up in the open hatred and cruel messages. As Westboro gained national attention after picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a college student killed in a savage way due to his homosexuality. They attention only helped them grow, both in media coverage and in numbers.
Recently, Megan Phelps-Roper, part of a very prominent family within the Westboro Baptist Church, ran a TEDTalk in New York City that explained why she got the courage to leave all that she knew behind. Because she was born into the church, Megan never knew a different life, she believed their causes were righteous because it was the only way she’d been taught. All of that changed once she discovered Twitter.
Through her arguments and conversations through social media, Phelps-Roper began to see holes in her church’s ideology and it wasn’t long before she began to change her beliefs and open up her mind. Megan’s lessons-learned are not just a good story, they are strangely relevant to the rest of the world around us.
Watch I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. Here’s why I left by Megan Phelps-Roper:
“What’s it like to grow up within a group of people who exult in demonizing … everyone else? Megan Phelps-Roper shares details of life inside America’s most controversial church and describes how conversations on Twitter were key to her decision to leave it. In this extraordinary talk, she shares her personal experience of extreme polarization, along with some sharp ways we can learn to successfully engage across ideological lines.”Megan Phelps-Roper