CLARK, S.D. (KCAU) – The Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas is one of the nation’s most recognized hate groups, best known for its anti-gay rhetoric and protests of military funerals.
A woman who was raised with those beliefs now calls South Dakota, home.
Westboro was founded by Megan Phelps-Roper’s grandfather, Fred Phelps, and most church members are her family.
But, as of seven years ago, Megan left Westboro and now befriends the very same people she once believed were damned.
Megan Phelps-Roper served as the social media mouthpiece of the notorious Westboro Church.
“It took me a few years of being on Twitter before it finally really occurred to me that we might be wrong,” said Phelps-Roper.
At 26, Phelps-Roper made the decision to leave Westboro and her entire family behind. She now calls Clark, South Dakota, home.
“I have tried to use every opportunity, since I left Westboro, to make amends with these communities that we targeted when I was a member of the church,” said Phelps-Roper.
Phelps-Roper has worked with anti-bullying and civil rights groups, as well as law enforcement on hate crimes and counter-terrorism.
She’s also building bridges in her own backyard. On this day, Phelps-Roper met the head of Watertown Loves, a new LGBTQ+ group that held its first Pride event in June.
“We had mutual friends and they told me I needed to meet her,” said Amy Rambow.
Amy Rambow helped start the group to support her transgender child.
“It gives you so much hope for people to know that. Yes, there is a lot of hate in this world, but love can overpower it at any time. And to see somebody who it was indoctrinated in them from birth, can truly change their heart is absolutely mind-blowing, wonderful,” said Amy Rambow of Watertown Loves.
“I’m basically just taking the lessons that those people on Twitter, those kind strangers who were willing to see that I was a sincere human being. And I was trying to do the right thing to be willing to acknowledge that and to engage me on that basis; that completely transformed my life,” said Phelps-Roger.