Twenty-seven-year-old Megan Phelps-Roper and her younger sister Grace have left the infamous Westboro Baptist Church after spending their lives there, the former announced today on Medium in a post called "Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise." Writing briefly but articulately, Megan contextualizes her departure from the church best known for proclaiming "God Hates Fags" and protesting whatever funerals they can muster up a reason to spray with their bile.
After a quote from Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises (WBC members looooove pop culture), Megan's post reads, in part:
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.
In an accompanying Medium piece, "Damsel, Arise: A Westboro Scion Leaves Her Church," Jeff Chu profiles the departure, focusing on Megan and her enlightening process. It began with a Twitter back-and-forth with Jewlicious' David Abitbol over dogma. After that, she realized the problems with condemning people to death, arbitrarily fixating on the "sin" of homosexuality and believing that WBC had everything all figured out.
It's another blow for the WBC, which has been hemorrhaging members — some 20 left between 2004 and November 2011, when the Kanas City Star profiled Megan, describing her as a "peppy, goofy and, by all accounts, happy" young woman who "wants to make it perfectly clear that you and the rest of this filthy, perverted nation will be spending a long, fiery eternity burning in hell." Her mother Shirley Phelps-Roper, the second most visible member of the church aside its leader Fred Phelps, refers to her daughter in that article as her "right-hand man."
Other notable WBC refugees include Fred's son Nate and Lauren Drain, whose memoir Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church is out in March.
Megan was the first person in her family to join Twitter and was obnoxiously active on it (she sparred with Kevin Smith over his WBC-referencing Red State). Grace, the youngest of Shirley's children, told documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux in his 2011 BBC movie The Most Hated Family in America in Crisis that she enjoyed running, weight-lifting, painting and ceramics before showing him a picture of an "adorable Muslim boy" she took while protesting a Muslim funeral.
Megan told Chu that she and Grace left the church in November and have been attempting "to figure out what we want to do next." When he caught up with them, they were in New York. Megan told him of trying sushi for the first time and reading The Sun Also Rises. That's like the most boring episode of Girls ever. She probably eats her cupcakes at the kitchen table instead of in the bathtub, too.
I kid, good for them for escaping what is essentially a cult and defying its wrath by going public about it. As far as the deprogramming process goes, Megan says, "I don't know what I believe," but she claims that she wants to determine how she can be "an influence for good." And she has the rest of her life to atone.
Happy coming out day, girls.
[Image via Getty]