By now it’s news all over that Megan Phelps-Roper has left the Westboro Baptist Church. She’s 27, the granddaughter of Fred Phelps and the daughter of his equally hateful and batshit daughter Shirley, and she and her sister have left the church in Topeka and moved to Brooklyn. Just like fucking everyone.
She’s doing a bunch of interviews and apologizing for all the hurt that she and the church have caused, and it’s all very fascinating and heart-warming but I’m not sure that I buy it.
First of all. She claims to have had the seeds of doubt planted in her head after a Twitter conversation with David Abitbol of Jewlicious, and that the thing he said that tripped her brainwire was “ ‘But Jesus said, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’” That one thing, which apparently no one has ever said to her before, made her begin to reconsider her entire belief system. Um. Sure.
Second of all, she supposedly went to the public library one day (one day!) and read excerpts from some religious and philosophy books. Which, as everyone who has ever watched Good Will Hunting knows, is all you need to attend Harvard. So why not a lifetime conversion, amirite?
Third of all, all of the things she’s saying to journalists about her decision and her thoughts since making it sound suspiciously simplistic. I mean, I would kind of expect a WBC member to be simplistic – there’s not a lot of thought behind a sentiment like “God Hates Fags” – but in this case, as a person who has apparently had the epiphany and wherewithal to leave her entire life because she has realized fundamentally that it is wrong, it just feels like much of what she’s saying is scripted, and not by someone who’s terribly concerned with nuance and style.
Fourth, the Phelps-Roper sisters quoted Selina Kyle in their statement. The Anne Hathaway version. I just…I don’t know how to take that. It’s either culturally genius or grossly pandering, and I can’t decide which. I do know that if it was my statement, I would have at least quoted 1992 Selina Kyle when referring to the WBC: “How can you be so mean to someone so meaningless?”
I’m not saying that no one can change their lives, nor do I think it’s odd that she chose this at the age of Almost Thirty; for a church as isolated in its beliefs as WBC, I imagine it would take much longer for a person to come to their senses. However, I think we should remember that this is the Westboro Fucking Baptist Church we’re talking about, and I don’t think anything they or their followers – past or present – do should be trusted at face value. Regardless of what Megan Phelps-Roper says about never intending to do anything but God’s will, anyone who participates in that kind of “salvation” would have to be a fucking lunatic to ignore that what they did was militantly hateful. And, um, can someone please acknowledge that she still thinks being gay is a sin? She might say she regrets holding the most inflammatory homophobic signs, but not once does she apologize for demonizing a group of people for their biological sexuality, nor does she admit that it even exists as something other than a morally corrupt choice.
All of this “welcome to humanity” stuff is well and good, but I think we all need to wait a little while longer to see if it’s really humanity she’s interested in joining.