Blogs & Columns
6 min

The redemption of a Westboro Baptist Church member

I really admire Libby Phelps Alvarez, who left Westboro Baptist Church last month. As the granddaughter of the founder, Fred Phelps, Libby was raised in the church, telling Anderson Cooper on Anderson that she went to her first service the Sunday after she was born and started picketing when she was only eight years old. She was brainwashed by hate mongers from birth, and when that bigotry is all you’ve ever known, it’s incredible that in her adulthood she has the courage, intelligence and spirit to stand against what she was programmed to believe her whole life. That isn’t easy. You could compare Libby standing against her family’s beliefs to a gay son or daughter emancipating themselves from their homophobic parents. As many in the queer community know all too well, it can be lonely and hard to stand alone, so I commend her for being able to see the errors of Westboro’s ways and choosing to make a different life for herself. 

Check out Libby telling Anderson what it was like growing up as a member of Westboro and giving a moving apology to the mother of a soldier whose son’s funeral she picketed while a part of the Phelps cult: