Here is the full transcript of social media activist Megan Phelps-Roper’s Talk: I Grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. Here’s Why I Left at TED conference.
Megan Phelps-Roper – Social media activist
I was a blue-eyed, chubby-cheeked five-year-old when I joined my family on the picket line for the first time. My mom made me leave my dolls in the minivan.
I’d stand on a street corner in the heavy Kansas humidity, surrounded by a few dozen relatives, with my tiny fists clutching a sign that I couldn’t read yet: “Gays are worthy of death.” This was the beginning.
Our protests soon became a daily occurrence and an international phenomenon, and as a member of Westboro Baptist Church, I became a fixture on picket lines across the country. The end of my antigay picketing career and life as I knew it, came 20 years later, triggered in part by strangers on Twitter who showed me the power of engaging the other.
In my home, life was framed as an epic spiritual battle between good and evil. The good was my church and its members, and the evil was everyone else. My church’s antics were such that we were constantly at odds with the world, and that reinforced our otherness on a daily basis. “Make a difference between the unclean and the clean,” the verse says, and so we did.