Unfollow

Unfollow

A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church

eBook - 2019
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The activist and TED speaker Megan Phelps-Roper reveals her life growing up in the most hated family in America

At the age of five, Megan Phelps-Roper began protesting homosexuality and other alleged vices alongside fellow members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Founded by her grandfather and consisting almost entirely of her extended family, the tiny group would gain worldwide notoriety for its pickets at military funerals and celebrations of death and tragedy. As Phelps-Roper grew up, she saw that church members were close companions and accomplished debaters, applying the logic of predestination and the language of the King James Bible to everyday life with aplomb--which, as the church's Twitter spokeswoman, she learned to do with great skill. Soon, however, dialogue on Twitter caused her to begin doubting the church's leaders and message: If humans were sinful and fallible, how could the church itself be so confident about its beliefs? As she digitally jousted with critics, she started to wonder if sometimes they had a point--and then she began exchanging messages with a man who would help change her life.

A gripping memoir of escaping extremism and falling in love, Unfollow relates Phelps-Roper's moral awakening, her departure from the church, and how she exchanged the absolutes she grew up with for new forms of warmth and community. Rich with suspense and thoughtful reflection, Phelps-Roper's life story exposes the dangers of black-and-white thinking and the need for true humility in a time of angry polarization.

Publisher: 2019.
ISBN: 9780374715816
Branch Call Number: eBook overdrive
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Overdrive, Inc

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LPL_LeahN Nov 10, 2019

Megan Phelps-Roper and I are the same age and I'm a lifelong Kansan, so I have followed her Westboro journey for a long time. I particularly remember a time in my early 20s when she was interviewed on my favorite radio program. I was completely blown away by her ability to speak about Westboro an... Read More »


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lilypad_1
Nov 20, 2019

I wanted to read this and I didn't want to read this. I have been so bewildered as to the actions of this Westboro Church and to how any group of people could be so hateful that I didn't want to let any of their beliefs into my mind. But the fact that she got out of it made me very curious. Her ability to separate their actions from the words in the Bible which they draw their beliefs from is astounding considering she had to start protesting with signs at age 5. She had these beliefs shoved down her throat her whole life and was able to peel away the signs of cognitive dissonance only when the church leaders started attacking her immediate family. Like all cults there was emotional and physical abuse which was hard to read. When she started questioning the Bible I was right there with her, all these different religions interpreting it differently who is to say what is right? Her strength to leave her family and write this book is astounding and I admire her and wish her well.

LPL_LeahN Nov 10, 2019

Megan Phelps-Roper and I are the same age and I'm a lifelong Kansan, so I have followed her Westboro journey for a long time. I particularly remember a time in my early 20s when she was interviewed on my favorite radio program. I was completely blown away by her ability to speak about Westboro and her beliefs with such candor and intelligence. And she was only one of many educated, well spoken, successful people in the Phelps family. I kept thinking, "How can people this smart be so brainwashed?" As it turns out, they can't.

This book is a fascinating look at the power of persuasion. The persuasion of our upbringing, countered by the persuasion of the world. There's irony in the fact that the undoing of Westboro will more than likely be their strangely progressive insistence on educating their members, and also the necessity of a global, public presence. They can't hide from the world because this would be counterproductive in spreading their message, but it's this very exposure that has time and time again turned the hearts of their members away from Westboro.

Megan tells her story with the same cleverness and jarring honesty I've always heard from her. Her voice coupled with a subject that has long fascinated me made for a read I couldn't put down. Not to say that I could ever fully understand the ideology behind the machinations of the Westboro Baptist Church...but after reading this I am as close as I will likely ever be to understanding their behavior as a symptom of the fear they carry around with them, and can only escape by completely upending their lives and leaving it all behind. 

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