Some time back in 2011, a few months after I came over to run UPROXX, I started being periodically trolled on Twitter by one of the members of the Westboro Baptist Church. The person doing the trolling was Megan Phelps-Roper, the granddaughter of Fred Phelps, the church’s hateful prick of a leader.
Most of the time I ignored her because, really, what good does it do to argue with deranged Jesus Freaks on Twitter? I can’t think of a more colossal waste of time. If I responded at all it was usually to tell her to go f*ck herself. Once, after doing just that, she issued a vague threat hinting that she and her impossibly misguided family might just have to travel to picket ME at some point.
Every now and again one of her f*cked-in-the-head family members would also chime in.
Because Megan didn’t actually follow me on Twitter, along with the the fact that her trolling was typically inspired by something I’d posted to UPROXX, I assumed that she was a regular reader of this site. This, of course, fascinated me for a number of reasons, but mainly because people like Megan Phelps-Roper — people who have been indoctrinated into an extreme way of life — typically need to be cut off from normal society in order to sustain it. Allowed to roam outside of their sheltered existence, people living lives that stray so far off the beaten path are liable to question the things they’ve been led to believe are absolute truths within their bubble. So I was really fascinated by how, seeing as though she’d obviously discovered the internet and was being regularly exposed to thoughts that run contrary to her beliefs, she could continue to spew the hate being an active member of WBC requires one to do.
Well, as it turns out, this is something that appears to have run its course. In a blog post published this week, Megan Phelps-Roper, my former Twitter tormenter, and her sister Grace announced that they had left the church.
“There’s no fresh start in today’s world. Any twelve-year-old with a cell phone could find out what you did. Everything we do is collated and quantified. Everything sticks.”
Don’t act surprised that I’m quoting Batman. At WBC, reciting lines from pop culture is par for the course. And why not? The sentiments they express are readily identifiable by the masses – and shifting their meaning is as easy as giving them new context. So put Selina Kyle’s words in a different framework:
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.
I never thought it would change. I never wanted it to.
Then suddenly: it did.
And I left.
Where do you go from there?
I don’t know, exactly. My sister Grace is with me, though. We’re trying to figure it out together.
There are some things we do know.
We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt.
We know that we dearly love our family. 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.
We know that we can’t undo our whole lives. We can’t even say we’d want to if we could; we are who we are because of all the experiences that brought us to this point. What we can do is try to find a better way to live from here on. That’s our focus.
Up until now, our names have been synonymous with “God Hates Fags.” Any twelve-year-old with a cell phone could find out what we did. We hope Ms. Kyle was right about the other part, too, though – that everything sticks – and that the changes we make in our lives will speak for themselves.
Megan and Grace
A news report out of Kansas City confirms that Megan and Grace have been effectively disowned by their family and, of course, the church. As easy, and as tempting, as it is to mock them relentlessly for all the hurt they’ve helped to cause over the years, what they’re doing is brave and probably more than a little bit scary, so I, for one, forgive them and welcome them to the world of the enlightened. I hope that the dick jokes, cats and GIFS we here at UPROXX provide played a part in their conversions. Joking aside, I have little doubt in my mind that being exposed to the internet is the driving force behind the conversions.
Megan, if you ever want to talk about your life and your experiences, you know where to find me.