Megan and Grace Phelps Leave Westboro
Megan Phelps is the 27-year old who introduced the Westboro Baptist Church to the wonders of social media. Today, she posted this:
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.
She left last November but her announcement was apparently timed to coincide with this article from Jeff Chu. In Chu’s piece, Phelps describes the moment she started seriously thinking about alternatives to the viewpoint she was raised with:
“My doubts started with a conversation I had with David Abitbol,” she says. Megan met David, an Israeli web developer who’s part of the team behind the blog Jewlicious, on Twitter. “I would ask him questions about Judaism, and he would ask me questions about church doctrine. One day, he asked a specific question about one of our signs—‘Death Penalty for Fags’—and I was arguing for the church’s position, that it was a Levitical punishment and as completely appropriate now as it was then. He said, ‘But Jesus said’—and I thought it was funny he was quoting Jesus—‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ And then he connected it to another member of the church who had done something that, according to the Old Testament, was also punishable by death. I realized that if the death penalty was instituted for any sin, you completely cut off the opportunity to repent. And that’s what Jesus was talking about.”
The story supports the idea that I (and many other skeptics) have long stressed: the key to winning someone over isn’t to do it all in one argument but to plant a seed of doubt that eventually grows. It’s amazing that Megan and her sister were able to overcome years of indoctrination and leave. It appears from the article as though Megan still believes in a god, but I’d be very interested to know if the sisters are in touch with their
brother uncle, atheist Nate Phelps, and whether or not they’ll be exploring the possibility that God doesn’t hate fags not because he’s a great guy but because he’s not really there.