Megan Phelps Roper, the granddaughter of Fred Phelps, has opened up about her upbringing in a bombshell new interview.
Fred Phelps, of course, was the notorious homophobic preacher at the Westboro Baptist Church. Throughout the 1980s, ’90s and into the 2000s, Phelps became a fixture of protest, blaming the ills of the world on homosexuality. He and his followers often showed up at the funerals of AIDS patients, or, in the case of Matthew Shepard, that of a hate crime victim, to shame the dead, claiming they were in Hell.
For Megan, attending these kinds of protests with her granddad became a part of everyday life. “We thought it was our duty to go and warn people of the consequences of their sins, and I understood that to be the definition of loving our neighbor,” she tells KMBC News. “We would always say the sign doesn’t say anything about our personal hatred – it’s talking about the hatred of God.”
As one of 11 children and with an enormous extended family–Fred Phelps sired 13 kids of his own–Megan had a twisted upbringing. She began attending Phelps’ protests at age 5 and struggled with the family’s rigid, even violent, religiosity. “It was abusive – there’s no question in my mind it was. Gramp’s policy was to beat first, ask questions later.”
Related: See Inside “Radical Extremist” Fred Phelps’ Recently Released FBI File
As she matured, and with the advent of social media, Megan began to question the beliefs of her family. “The way that it came into my mind was, ‘Oh my God, what if we’re just people, what if this isn’t the place led by God himself?’ And that realization was staggering and completely destabilizing.” She eventually left the church with her sister in 2012 to begin a new life. Fred Phelps died in 2014, and Megan still has limited contact with her family.
Perhaps Phelps Roper’s most startling revelation shows the full effect of her grandfather’s bigotry and abuse. “I don’t really believe in God anymore,” she confesses. “I don’t like to say I’m not a believer, because I’m a believer in a lot of things, primarily hope, and grace and the power of human connection. But God? No.”
Maybe she can let us know where her evil grandfather is buried so we can all go take a collective turd on his grave.
For what little it’s worth, Fred Phelps was ostracized from his own church near the end of his life because he tried to soften their stance on gays. The Equality House across the street totally worked in the best way possible and engaged him in a dialogue that lead to him questioning his own beliefs. His (mostly) children were just too rigid from his abusive rearing to consider a change of heart.
I’m just glad that Megan could escape that kind of hate and abuse. Her TED talk is very tender, hopeful, and sincere.
…or have a dance floor installed on top of it, complete with swirling lights and a disco ball.
I can’t imagine X mas at the Phelps. Just the craziest of the crazies left now.
you said it sister!
Disgusting man to say the least but I really didn’t need to know this!
Then why did you read it?
PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
For how he tortured grieving families of AIDS and military members KIA at their funerals. And how he instituted a lawsuit to be allowed to errect a statue of “Matt Shepard burning in Hell” in their hometown..
I enjoy knowing that vile old noxious smcubag is burning in the darkest corner of Hell suffering non-stop unbearable horrific agonizing torture for all eternity
You ignorant fool.
The Westboro Baptist Church is another failure, like most bigoted religions.
Just a little historical curiosity here, and maybe someone can offer more explanation. But if I remember correctly in the last few years of Fred Phelps his life he retreated somewhat from his homophobia, even to the point of being rejected and shunned by his family and church. Anyone remember this?
Fred Phelps was a vile and disgusting evil man. His daughter and the Westboro Baptist Church continue his horrific legacy. It’s hard for anyone to imagine the pain and suffering these people have caused to families and friends of people who died when they unjustly vilified with protests at ceremonies and funerals. The one thing they did not intend is that they gave homophobia an ugly face, and when people saw this ugliness, they did not like what they saw. When the WBC started their protests at AIDs victim’s funerals, then Matthew Shepard and other LGBTQ+ victims of hate crimes and then onto U.S. Military families they made people see and reflect upon the vile nature of homophobia and hate. We saw groups begin to counter-demonstrate and ‘shield’ families from the WBC protests at funerals. Many of these groups and local communities, drawn together in common purpose, where unlikely allies of the LGBTQ+ community. The legacy of Phelps and the WBC is that their displays of hate drove people, who otherwise might never have come together, into a mutual cause of sympathy and compassion. I’d like to think that lesson helped advance better understanding for the LGBTQ+ community in ways that would make Phelps turn over in his dark, soulless grave. Hate always loses in the end and Love Wins.
I think I find the most troubling aspect of the Phelps era was that obviously they were funded quite well. Their travel expenses and legal fees alone had to be high. And for them to receive that much from people using religion as the reason when we know it was purely hate that drove them.
They make their money off of counter suits filed after they win lawsuits against their protests. The First Amendment does provide a LOT of protection for speech, even hate speech, so long as it doesn’t incite violence directly. They had a winning strategy, as far as courts were concerned.
If you watch the Louis Theroux documentary, “The Most Hated Family in America,” on them, they send their kids to law school specifically to fight these kinds of cases. I think Megan was about 12 or so in the film, and even then there were signs that she was capable of escaping the cult.
Theroux did a second film about them, but I haven’t watched it yet.
Louix Theroux did a “third series” of his trio of documentaries on this family earlier this year. I haven’t fully seen the other two but I watched this one and it was interesting (and difficult) to watch. Surprisingly, people actually said online that they felt a bit sorry for Shirley Phelps (admittedly, I felt a bit that way too). I was proud of Megan for having the courage to walk away from her family and publicly denounce them. She said in the doc that she was desperate to save her sister but it seemed like she had been sucked further in via a husband who believes in “the cause”,
She could start a new church made up of people who’ve left that church
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