News » Religion

Life After Westboro with Megan and Grace Phelps

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Thursday Oct 31, 2013

Last November Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper put away their "God Hates Fags" signs forever. Now the granddaughters of Pastor Fred Phelps, of the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church are apologizing for how their picketing inflicted pain on so many people.

"We know that we've done and said things that hurt people," they wrote in a statement. "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."

In an article in The Globe and Mail, the sisters said that they were staying in a Jewish community in Montreal for a month, and had appeared to speak before some religious studies classes at Concordia University. But they said they are not attempting to profit in any way from their past actions.

Megan, 27 and Grace, 20, say they are instead working to "do good" since leaving the controversial church in November 2012. The two said they were terrified after leaving the Kansas-based church, with Megan adding, "I was afraid we were going to hell. Many times when we were driving, I thought God was going to kill us.

The Westboro Baptist Church often held anti-gay demonstrations at gay or military funerals and prayed for people to die, often holding aloft "God Hates Fags" posters. This February, the two girls apologized for "inflicting pain" while spreading the church's message.

"I'm at a complete loss. But I do know that I want to do good, to have empathy," Megan told the Globe and Mail. "Even though we intended to do good [with the picketing], we hurt a lot of people."

Now, the girls say they are exploring those communities that they once picketed against, and are looking for mainstream lives, with Megan saying she wants to work on a blueberry farm or be an actress.

"At the church, so many aspects of your life are controlled," Grace told the Globe and Mail. "Having this new freedom, this ability to do things as we want to, when we want to, making all our own decisions -- we've learned so much this way."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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