Memoir By An Apostate of the Westboro Baptist Church

Late last year, the New York Times Book Review reviewed Unfollow, a memoir from Megan Phelps-Roper, the granddaughter of Westboro Baptist Church’s founder Fred Phelps. She’d be taken along to their notorious public protests against dead American soldiers, Gays, Jews, Muslims – whatever it, they’re against it! What I find most interesting is the cautionary tale here of a religion whose scriptural basis focuses on mercy, forgiveness and charity can be manipulated and weaponized into an ethos that utterly contradicts its actual roots. And don’t think that any and every religion out there can’t go down that road. Anyway, here’s an excerpt:

“The church had fewer than 100 congregants, most of whom were Fred Phelps’s family members. But as their targets multiplied and their pickets became more blistering, so too did the local and even global reaction. Westboro members celebrated AIDS, famine, the Sept. 11 attacks and other tragedies. They picketed at American soldiers’ funerals, thanking God for killing those who’d fought for a country that ‘institutionalized sin.’ They prayed God would kill Westboro’s enemies.

“And yet Phelps-Roper grew up loving her grandfather’s church. Expanding on the story she told to The New Yorker in 2015, her memoir, “Unfollow,” shows how seductive Westboro and its members were. She vividly portrays the comfort and sense of purpose she felt when surrounded by her tightknit extended family, a sanctuary where every expectation was clear and every problem had a pat solution. She also explains why she left. Throughout, she paints a nuanced portrait of the lure and pain of zealotry, though she leaves many questions unanswered.”

Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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