Former Westboro Baptist Church Member Zach Phelps-Roper Participated In A Pretty Fascinating Reddit AMA

Former Westboro Baptist Church (or, “church”) member Zach Phelps-Roper, grandson to the late Fred Phelps, answered questions in a Reddit AMA yesterday. Phelps-Roper no longer associates with the organization, which he left earlier this year, but still considers himself a church-going man of faith. It’s a rare glimpse into the thinly-veiled hate group, which Phelps-Roper almost right off the bat states that their objective is not to instigate people to the point of violence. That’s something that never actually occurred to me before, and crazy timing given last night’s horrifying episode of The Leftovers. (Of course, Dustin has more on that holy sh*t moment.) It’s kind of amazing no one has yet to take out a WBC member in a spectacularly violent fashion.

Anyway, here’s some of the more interesting things we learned, starting with the WBC’s hatred of Lady Gaga (among others):

What is the most ridiculous thing they asked/made you do in the name of God?

I feel like the most ridiculous thing I was ever required to do in the name of God was pray for others to die…. Since leaving Westboro Baptist Church, I have discovered that I have no malice in my heart… I want everyone to be happy.

Pray for whom to die? That’s just wrong.

When I was at Westboro, I did pray for these people to die: President Barack Obama; Lady Gaga; Albert Synder (of Synder V. Phelps, the Supreme Court Case); George W. Bush; and many, many other people.

Let me just say this though: I no longer pray for harm to come on ANYONE under any circumstances. I have left behind my former religious convictions.

Oh c’mon…Lady Gaga? What’d she ever do?

There is a music video that answers this question.

Here’s the video, if you can handle the crazy (I couldn’t).

On what should you do if you ever encounter members, which is easier said than done:

How do you feel would be the best way to deal with religious hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church when they visit your community and attempt to spread their hate?

I thought you would never ask!

I think that we need to approach them with forgiveness and love… otherwise, they will always think that the world universally hates them, and they will NEVER go away with their hateful message. I’m just sayin’… let’s make ’em challenge their beliefs a little bit and “kill ’em with kindness” ;-)

Apparently they really do think they’re “helping” when they picket funerals of soldiers:

When you picketed funerals of dead soldiers, have you ever felt some sort of remorse or sympathy? While at the church has it ever dawned on you that what you did was purely hateful?

At the time of the funerals, I did not feel remorseful of the picketing… I honestly did not become sympathetic to the plight of others who have lost someone until I lost my grandfather.

When I was at the church, I always thought I was doing the kindest thing in the world: warning people lest they should die and go to Hell for sinning willfully against God. I was taught to believe, that was the kindest thing I could ever do for anyone.

Same goes with the funerals of children:

What did it feel like to protest the funerals of the little kids that were killed in a school bus accident?

I don’t know if I ever did protest the funerals of anyone in a school bus accident, but if I did at the time, I would have felt that I was doing the right thing. When I was at Westboro, I viewed every tragedy as at the hands of an ANGRY God who HATED most of mankind, and I was scared, in all honesty, when I stood on the streets. My world view was that everyone hated me.

Since leaving the church, he’s now cool with the gays:

What are your views towards gay rights now?

I fully and with great pride and thankfulness support the rights of all people, whether gay, lesbian, transgender, etc… They are all humans to me, and they all deserve protection under the law. Who am I to stop love or say, “You can’t get married?”

And why do they focus so much energy on homosexuality in the first place?

Do they understand that homosexuality doesn’t harm people in the way that theft, murder, etc do?

They believe that acceptance of the sin is the bottom rung on the depravity chain and will result in the destruction of America, and by extent, the world. As God destroyed Sodom.

So do they believe that no other civilization has angered God enough to do that since Sodom? Or do they attribute other disasters to this?

In a nutshell, they blame every calamity, tragedy, or disaster on America’s sin, which is primarily homosexuality. There is also a verse in Proverbs that says God laughs at calamities.

So, they’ve got one leg up on PETA, anyway?

Have any of the “higher-ups” in the church explicitly confided in you that their protests are done for publicity? If not, do you think this to be the root of the protests?

No one at Westboro Baptist Church has ever told me that they did their preaching for publicity or for money… It is strictly their religious convictions that drive them to preach their message… They believe that if they don’t preach the words that they are preaching, then they will BURN IN HELL when they die for all of eternity… They act out of fear for themselves and their children, and they will ex-communicate anyone, ever their own wife or children, to save their souls.

Holy sh*t, they’re actually banned from entering the United Kingdom:

So many questions man. I’m a British guy, and I think you’re banned from my country? Is that still the case even though you’ve left?

Yes, all members of the Westboro Baptist Church are banned from entering the United Kingdom. I’ve never tried to enter England, but my sister went to Canada, and we are banned from going there, too. She was initially denied access, but then explained that she left. I don’t know how the process went, but she was eventually allowed in Canada. I imagine it’d be the same there, but again, I’ve never tried.

The WBC is anti-funeral, among other things:

Why did the westboro baptist church ask people to respect Fred Phelps funeral, when they would picket at other people’s funerals?

That never happened. That was a media lie.

The WBC doesn’t do funerals; they view them as “worshiping the dead”.

Finally, it seems ol’ Fred really did come around on the whole gay thing right before he passed away:

Is it true Freddy had a change of heart before he died?

Absolutely. This is an article on the subject =D