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Eminence, the emeritis cardinal archbishop of HGN

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Scales Fell From Their Eyes: Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper Leave Westboro Baptist Church

                                          Megan Phelps-Roper

Here is a story of conversion. It began being aired about two days ago. The line from Acts describing Paul’s conversion seems appropriate in the accounts of two granddaughters, Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper, who belonged to the “God Hates Fags” church of their grandfather Pastor Fred Phelps. 

Here is a portion of the statement Megan and Grace released.

“We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt....Up until now, our names have been synonymous with ‘God Hates Fags.’ ...and that the changes we make in our lives will speak for themselves.”

Megan says that she is with her sister Grace. Apparently they journeyed to Brooklyn, New York and were with a writer Jeff Chu who met them more than a year ago in Kansas when he was writing a book, Does God Really Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America,  about the Westboro Baptist Church. Chu writes a first hand account on his blog titled: “Damsel, Arise: A Westboro Scion Leaves Her Church.” In the article Chu talks about being with the two sisters this past Sunday at Old First Reformed Church in Brooklyn. There is a link to his story here. First Hand Account by Jeff Chu

In his account Chu writes: “I could not have imagined that some fifteen months later, we’d be having a conversation in which she [Megan] tearfully told me that she was no longer with her family or with the church.”

When Chu asks Megan what she is going to do now. This is her response: “I have no idea,  I mean, I have almost no idea. I know I want to do good for people. And I want to treat people well. And it’s nice that I can do that now in a way that they see as good too. How exactly do you accomplish that? I’m not sure.”

JeremyL wrote a diary at Dailykos about this event. The last I looked there were 319 comments. A link to that diary is here. JeremyL's Diary at Dailykos about Megan and Grace

My contact or lack of contact with the Westboro Baptist Church are these. About ten years ago Fred Phelps and his band came to the historic Catholic Church in my neighborhood. I suspect they may have been in town for a military funeral. Why they decided to protest at this church I have never figured out. The pastor was an elderly man who was certainly not any outspoken advocate for gay rights. I sometimes think maybe they were there to protest about me. I had recently been outed by a very conservative catholic group. I was not in town that particular weekend, and I seldom attended this historic church. I could easily see this historic Catholic Church across the street from my residence. I did witness several weddings there. My neighbors told me about the event and how they carried cards to block the media from taking pictures of the Westboro Baptist Church people.

Two years ago I was at the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago. I heard that Fred Phelps was positioned on a nearby street corner preaching. Since I had never seen him or his band of followers, I wondered over that way. I could not get very close since there was a large crowd. I witnessed a young, probably collage age fellow, lob a string of beads over his head in no particular direction in frustration. Shortly a burly Chicago cop waded into the crowd, grabbed the fellow and shoved him up against a building. I am sure that fellow has his own memories.

Anyhow, I welcome the statement from Megan and her sister Grace that they have hurt people. I wish them well and many blessings as they move on to a new chapter in their lives.

Conversion still happens. Jeff Chu writes about that journey in a wonderful way in his article referenced above. The Link to Chu's Article ...Again

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again Wild Hair for this reflection. It's certainly a 'Paul-Damascus' type of event. As I grow older, I find there's a continuing series of conversions -- amazing.