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VTS on Westboro Baptist’s April picket schedule; Phelps’ granddaughter profiled

VTS on Westboro Baptist’s April picket schedule; Phelps’ granddaughter profiled

Westboro Baptist has announced picketing locations for the coming month – its three April 10 locations are the Pentagon, Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church and Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria.

The VTS picket is scheduled for 1:30-2:00 p.m. From the Westboro website:

WBC will picket the largest Episcopal Seminary in the United States in religious protest and warning: Stop preaching lies for filthy lucre’s sake! The clergy educated at this establishment go on to join a church that promotes sodomite priests, divorce and remarriage, same-sex marriage and the big lie of free will. The Episcopal Church establishment is a big part of the reason the Lord Almighty pours out His wrath on this nation daily.

Earlier this week, the Las Vegas Sun ran a story on Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Westboro founding member Fred Phelps, who, with her sister Grace, left her family’s church in 2012 after reaching the conclusion that many of the church’s teachings were at odds with scripture. Her discernment was rooted in antagonistic tweets she sent (through her work at Westboro) to David Abitbol, founder of the Jewish culture blog Jewlicious, that grew into a months-long theological conversation through Twitter and e mail.

“Once you’ve been inculcated with this ideology from the time you’re tiny, and you have answers to everything and you’ve tied your salvation and your life into believing these doctrines, it’s really hard to let them go,” Phelps-Roper said.

Now, she travels around the country trying to build bridges:

To fill the ideological vacuum that was created when she broke from the church, Phelps-Roper has traveled the country to learn from the very groups Westboro protested, replacing the church’s policy of hatred with more nuanced perspectives from anyone willing to talk to her.

In a society that is increasingly going the other direction, Phelps-Roper is deliberately de-radicalizing.

“In the specifics it seems unique,” Phelps-Roper said. “But a lot of people grow up with ideas and prejudices that they were taught and eventually … reorient themselves.”

Posted by Cara Ellen Modisett


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J. Samuel Knopf

“That they still garner attention at all is amazing to me.”

I wonder about the best way to respond to these miserable people. My initial reaction would be to shake the dust off our feet and ignore them. They seem to thrive on the confrontation and media attention. What would happen if no counter-demonstration happened or media were there to pay them any mind?

Bruce LeLacheur

What would Jesus do? Shake the dust or Radical Hospitality?

Stuart Schellberg

That they still garner attention at all is amazing to me. But for every headline they grab, I need only think of those who (like Megan) had the courage to question what they’d been taught and leave. One need only look at them to see that there’s light to be found in the darkest of human scenarios. Embrace their example, and pray for those they left behind.

Reese Rickards

There’s a simple way to respond to hate groups like this one. Laugh at them. Let the good people at VTS laugh, and laugh, and laugh at the silly antics of the Westboro Church. Haters can’t stand being laughed at.

Jay Croft

I wonder if this is an April Fools Day joke.

But if it isn’t, then it will be very interesting to see what transpires. I hope that the VTS folks are joined by others in the Washington Theological Consortium!

J. Samuel Knopf

Horrible people, spouting horrible lies. But I had to laugh when I read “The Episcopal Church establishment is a big part of the reason the Lord Almighty pours out His wrath on this nation daily.” Methinks they give us far too much credit for our influence!

John Chilton

Speaking of pouring down His wrath, Mike Pence evidently can’t explain why progressive Episcopalians would like the Titanic.
“what draws us to this film is an undeniable sense that we are seeing America of the late 20th Century in metaphor before our eyes … Just as the Royal Mail Steamship Titanic left Southhampton, England on her maiden voyage with deckloads of proud and waving passengers, do we not see ourselves, steaming away from the safe harbor of our best moral and religious traditions?”

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