Unfollow : a memoir of loving and leaving the Westboro Baptist Church

by Phelps-Roper, Megan, 1986-

Format: Print Book 2019.
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Summary

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 ofpredestination 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 messageswith 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.

Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, charts her journey from childhood church devotee to adult skeptic in her excellent debut memoir. She explores her early years immersed in the insular community of her family's church, a Kansas-based denomination known for picketing funerals of U.S. service members and widely decried as a hate group. Convinced by the church's teachings about scripture and sin, Phelps-Roper recounts spending her adolescence calling America to repentance and defending the views of the Westboro Baptist Church vociferously on Twitter. But then, as a young adult, in part due to thoughtful interactions on Twitter where she spars with critics of her church but also "relished confounding expectations," her faith begins to unravel. After she expresses her doubts, she is ostracized from her family. Phelps-Roper's intelligence and compassion shine throughout with electric prose ("the foundation of it all was a belief that our hearts had led us true when they told us the Bible was the answer... our unreliable, desperately wicked, deceitful hearts), an eye for detail, and a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible. She admirably explicates the worldview of the Westboro Baptist Church while humanizing its members, and recounts a classic coming-of-age story without resorting to cliché or condescending to her former self. For anyone interested in the power of rhetoric, belief, and family, Phelps-Roper's powerful, empathetic memoir will be a must-read. (Oct.)"
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Additional Information
Subjects Phelps-Roper, Megan, -- 1986-
Westboro Baptist Church (Topeka, Kan.)
Ex-church members -- Baptists -- Biography.
Christianity and politics -- United States.
Toleration -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
Religious tolerance -- Christianity.
Autobiographies.
Publisher New York :2019.
Edition First edition
Language English
Description 289 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN 9780374275839
0374275831
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