Sunday, February 10, 2013

Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper: I Understand the Anger

As an ex-fundamentalist Christian, let me see if I can aptly explain the phenomenon of children that are born into the movement and then get out - especially how they are deserved to be viewed once out.

As many of my readers already know, Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper, granddaughters of the evil patriarch of the communal clan, Fred Phelps, left the Westboro Baptist Church cult in November of 2012.  On the 7th of February, 2013, Megan posted a quick article on her blog that revealed this news.  This was accompanied by articles all over the internet, with reporters who had interviewed Megan (Grace, as far as I am aware, has never publicly spoken to anyone).

That same day, I began a Facebook group called Megan and Grace Phelps Roper Supporters to show these young women public support for their decision to leave the cult, as well as supporting them in the future endeavors away from hateful rhetoric and actions.

For the most part, those who joined the group were very happy with the news and said as much.  But, here and there, it became quite obvious that others were understandably angry and wanted nothing to do with these two women.  As far as they cared, they would rather Megan and Grace went back to Westboro Baptist Church and stuck their heads back under the rock from whence they came.

I must say, while I completely understand this reaction, I believe it stems from not understanding how a child can be brainwashed into a system and then, in their later years, leave that system ready to be someone better.

I spoke of this in my blog article about the three (actually four) easy steps to spiritually abuse your child.  These four steps are what happened to me.  I went through this.  You can see the spiritual abuse in action in the video I embedded in this blog post.  In that video, you can see several things, while the reporter is asking the girls questions.  First, the adult is hanging back around the corner, ready to pounce if a girl said one thing off message.  Also, you can see the bright smiles and giggly laughter, accompanied by the nonchalant hatred and dead eyes of the girls when they speak of their message.  But pay attention to the way the girls feel when they speak of the little Muslim boy.  They work hard to say that he is going to hell.  But you can tell it hurts them to say it, even if they are not aware of the inner conflict.

These young women in the video were well on their way to becoming who their parents and immediate relatives were.  They were taught well and were regurgitating the hatred with abandon and conviction.  And yet I saw a glimmer of me in their eyes.  A little sliver of hope that they had been introduced to other ways of thinking and they were fighting a battle inside.  

I was right and I knew it.  Eight months later, I would be proven correct.

But what does that mean for Megan and Grace?  Do they deserve the anger towards them for what they did to everyone not like them, on the picket line or on social media where Megan was very prolific?  They said millions of hateful words, laughed in the faces of those that were weeping, spewed forth hateful curses on anyone and everyone who lent a listening ear or just happened to be a victim.  Not only did they do these things, but they believed what they were taught.  They had internalized it, ingested it, and then - lived it.

Now, they have a mess to clean up.  A mess that can easily be cleaned up by a deep apology and a life that will be lived - changed for good.  Megan already explained that in her blog post, quoting Batman, where she says:

There's no fresh start in today's world. Any twelve-year-old with a cell phone could find out what you did. Everything we do is collated and quantified. Everything sticks.

Exactly.  These women and their hateful words, will be forever found all over the internet.  They will never be able to get away from them.  No matter how often and forcefully they apologize, anyone and everyone can point to their past and say, "but..."

I will choose to look at my past life, where I was brainwashed as a child, to despise all homosexuals, Democrats, Muslims, Jews (unless they were Messianic Jews), and, well...anyone who didn't believe the exact creeds that I was told (and even believed) were true.  I hurt plenty of people, have since apologized both privately and publicly, and have moved on with a more love-filled and logical life.  Yet, even with this knowledge of myself, there will be many who do not accept my words or actions.  Everything I used to be is still who I am, according to them.

I am okay with that.  I know who I am and refuse to apologize for me, today.  I will not be held blameless for what I did in my past and yet I refuse to be guilty for it.  I did what I was taught.  I am a new person.

And so are Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper.  Time will tell the rest of their story.


  1. Without my faith I would not be able to survive. I am sooo sorry that the comfort of a HIGHER POWER has been ripped out of peoples lives. They are in my prayers to find comfort and peace. I however am a Christian and believe the saying, What would Jesus do? I think he would walk right over and hug those abused and forgive them of past sins. Born Again? Means you bring NOTHING with you from the past as you have already been forgiven and who of US are worthy to judge anyone? Not I.

  2. I disagree with that premise. People are not forgiven because their actions in the past were meaningless, based on some artificial religious paradigm. They are forgiven because of the psychological nature of who they were or, more importantly, how they repair the damage that was done once they apologize.

  3. I don't think Anonymous11:33 is saying that past actions were meaningless. I think they're just saying that the requirements to walk in forgiveness excludes bringing the past (our's and the offender's) with us and holding offender's past against them. Unfortunately, most Christians don't actually act this way and the cycle repeats. Able hurts Cain, asks for forgiveness, Cain tells him off and hurts Able. Rinse and repeat.

    There is a problem with forgiving people on the basis of past conditions like the psychological nature of who someone was. Forgiveness based on a condition is dependent on those conditions. As long as that condition exists there is a retribution and/or payment that must be made.

    Complete forgiveness is unconditional forgiveness. That being said, forgiveness is also a spectrum, much like trust.

  4. I was a Christian from age 3 to 26 and now that I'm out I have a far deeper peace than I ever had when I was experiencing that "peace that passeth all understanding." I love the fact that I don't have to make excuses for a Higher Power like I did when I believed in one. Christians generally don't accept my word for this. When I assure them that I'm happier now "spiritually" than I ever was before, they tell me that I might think so but I'm deceiving myself. What does that even mean?! Aren't I the barometer for my own happiness?

    1. I love this!

      I am the barometer of my own happiness.

    2. Jesus said you without sin cast the first stone. Meaning all have sinned and full short of the glory of God. We are saved by grace thru Jesus Christ.

    3. Jesus was wrong. We have laws to deal with law breakers. We do not hold back based on our own issues in life. Also, Jesus' words cause complacency and enabling of continued abuse by abusers.

      And we are only saved, as you say, if you believe in the mystical fairy tale called Christianity.

  5. I had started a "Save Grace Phelps" Facebook page in November 2011 but was asked by Grace indirectly to take the page down in November of 2012. Now people can understand why! :)

  6. I really love what you have written here. It comes directly from your heart, sympathy and understanding of a shared experience. It is a very valuable perspective for someone like myself to read. (This will turn into a small book, so please bear with me.) I come from a different perspective. All attempts at indoctrination at this level were a complete failure with me, even as a child. I have always been a steady and genuine non-believer. I have never lost faith, had a situation in my life where i used it as a crutch, nothing. It just does not exist, period. Raised in an emotionally abusive home full of religion, racism and hatred, I escaped at the legal age to do so and began my own life. There were brief moments of hope that people can change and wake up. I would try to find some common ground to build a new relationship with those people. But it never happened. I was always aware of what they were and still are today.
    This places me in a position to not be able to have a clear view of their experiences and how they processed them. This is why I find your words valuable to me. Anger is a key part of the forgiveness process. I may never let go of the anger I hold toward those who hurt me. They will, most likely, never be given forgiveness. I also know they don't care. It does not eat me up, it keeps me aware of the potential harm in others. Many people will be angry for quite some time. Some will forgive and some will not. We need those who will not. They will keep watch on those who have proven themselves to be a danger. Their efforts may prove to be futile and wasted because these young women may grow to be something great. I hope they do. I am reserved in my optimism.

    My reasons for reservation are because I believe that an emotional seed has been planted that will take nothing short of intense introspection and therapy to kill. I believe that all religion is dangerous. It is an infection. These girls are severely infected. I fear they will just move to a more socially acceptable version of what they were. For me, this does not redeem them. They were innocent at birth. They are no longer. Whether or not it was their own fault is no longer relevant. If they are truly looking to be free, they will need to work so very hard for that freedom. Within every one of us, there was a seed planted somewhere. You have to know it is there and work to remove and for some, just to halt its growth.

    I don't hate them. I am not angry. I also have no sympathy and I do not applaud their recovery just yet. Their path is going to be grueling. Hopefully, they have the guts. But that is so very rare. I fight my past, as do you. We are both willing and able to listen, feel and learn. It is a process that these girls have never faced. They have hurt so many. They have wronged so much of society that they have a debt to pay. Their only payment can be to give back what they have taken. Not to hide or become another version of what they are now. Many people will not trust them. I am one. I believe they can change, if they really want that in their lives. I can see that in your own words about your life. You feel you have righted your wrongs as much as you can. You are happy. You are a happy work in progress, as am I. But I never called for another person's death and cheered it. They have a long road and I will wait to see where they go.

    Thank you for the perspective. Thank you for writing.