In November 2012, two of Fred Phelps granddaughters left Topeaka’s Westboro Baptist Church. Megan is 25, Grace is 18. They are the daughters of Fred Phelps daughter, Shirley Phelps Roper and Brent Roper. In 2009 David Abitol, the founder of Jewlicious, by a chance of fate (or divine intervention?) met Megan on Twitter on Yom Kippur when he tweeted that he wished everyone “have an easy fast, have a meaningful fast.” Megan, still with Westboro tweeted back to him “shouldn’t you do something to really repent” and “God hating their dead rote rituals.” According to Megan, David tweeted back, “God hates shrimp.” Megan says his tone softened but her’s did not. Abitol began asking questions – remember all this happening on Twitter – she was asking him questions about Judisasm.
In the audio below of an interview with CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi, Megan, Grace and David, you hear that the awakening came through Abitol who…on Twitter…asked about something Jesus said .
Ghomeshi asks Megan if there was a moment when she began to question the faith she had been brought up with?
MEGAN: Yeah, I was talking to David. He was asking us a question about one of our signs that said “death penalty for fags,” and I was arguing for the church’s position that those Old Testament punishments, under the Mosaic code, they called for the death penalty – if they were good then, then they’re good today, and we should definitely have the government institute the death penalty for that sin.
But then David pointed out, he said, didn’t Jesus say, let he who is without sin cast the first stone, and he related it to someone in our church who had also…he said if someone in your has committed a sin worthy of death according to the Old Testament, and so, wouldn’t you have to kill them also, and I realized then for the first time – we believe in repentance. Christianity is about repentance.There is hope for people who sin, you can change and so the idea that if you kill someone you are completely cutting off the opportunity to repent, and I had never connected those dots, and it was because of a tweet from David.
Grace was asked how she decided to leave:
GRACE: Megan started focusing on those doctrinal issues that she disagreed with, and for me, I could hear her explain all that, okay…but I still went along with what the church said. It wasn’t until things within the structure of the church started to change that I began to question whether it was right or not, and in the process, it took us awhile to finally decide that leaving was the right choice
GHOMESHI: What things in the structure of the church were changing?
GRACE DEFERS TO MEGAN.
MEGAN: As we grew up it was always a big part of our faith and our understanding of what a church is, is that all the church members are of one mind, of one accord, of one judgement, and it started to feel like, over the course of about the year and a half before we left, that we no longer had any real input. If we disagreed with something or had a thought about a specific course of action the church was engaging – if we thought it was wrong, we no longer had any real ability to change it and so the church was taking action and it was only a thing where if the church isn’t of one mind, we’re going to take this action considered, and we realized it didn’t matter if we didn’t agree anymore….what are we doing here if we don’t believe these things and we can’t do anything to change it…we couldn’t go along anymore with doing these things we believed were wrong.
Both of these young women affirm that they love their family and the members of Westboro, and they know they cannot have contact because it puts that family or church member in an awkward postion, but Megan says that the things they have seen since leaving Westboro have really made us think that it was right, it was the right thing to do.
To that Grace responds:
GRACE: Oh, I’d like to tell them about that, our family, because like how we were raised there. Everyone outside WBC is evil and they are insincere, and they don’t really care about God and the truth and since we’ve left, we’ve just found that that is so, so wrong. We have met so many good people who are honestly seeking God and truth and trying to live a Godly life, and it is so unexpected.
Church spokesman Steve Drain, in addressing the girls’ decision to leave Westboro, had some ominous words for the young women: “If they continue with the position that they have, those two girls, yeah, they’re going to hell.” Source: Breitbart
Just after 11 last Sunday morning at Old First Reformed Church in Brooklyn, the Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter is starting the Sunday service as he always does. He runs through the opening salutation and the collect for the day, and then he welcomes everyone to church as he always does, introducing Old First “as a community of Jesus in Park Slope where we welcome people of every race, ethnicity and orientation to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.”
The congregation—some eighty strong on this sunny but cold February morning—is the usual mix of Park Slope churchgoing types: a smattering of journalists, a few artists, a handful of old ladies, some rambunctious children. But in the back row of the tin-ceilinged, wood-floored hall, there’s a visitor. It is Megan Phelps-Roper’s first time not only at Old First but also at any church not called Westboro Baptist. Yes, that Westboro Baptist, the Topeka, Kansas, congregation that has become famous (or infamous, depending on your viewpoint) for its strident views on sin (and the abundance of it in modern America), salvation (and the prospective lack of it), and sexuality (we’re bad, in far more colorful terms).
Since first becoming active on Twitter a few years ago, I have believed it is the most important media we have available to us, particularly for Conservatives who have so little unbiased news to choose from. A chat on Twitter bought about Megan’s and Grace’s change of heart.
God bless David Abitol at Jewlicious for appealing to the hearts of two young women who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, with the words of Jesus.