Unfollow – Megan Phelps-Roper’s memoir of growing up in the Westboro Baptist Church, the most hated family in America
More about the book!
Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope by Megan Phelps-Roper is out now from Jonathan Ball Publishers.
It was an upbringing in many ways normal. A loving home, shared with squabbling siblings, overseen by devoted parents. Yet in other ways it was the precise opposite: a revolving door of TV camera crews and documentary makers, a world of extreme discipline, of siblings vanishing in the night.
Megan Phelps-Roper was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church – the fire-and-brimstone religious sect at once aggressively homophobic and anti-Semitic, rejoiceful for Aids and natural disasters, and notorious for its picketing the funerals of American soldiers.
From her first public protest, aged five, to her instrumental role in spreading the church’s invective via social media, her formative years brought their difficulties. But being reviled was not one of them. She was preaching God’s truth. She was, in her words, ‘all in’.
In November 2012, at the age of 26, she left the church, her family, and her life behind.
Unfollow is a story about the rarest thing of all: a person changing their mind. It is a fascinating insight into a closed world of extreme belief, a biography of a complex family, and a hope-inspiring memoir of a young woman finding the courage to find compassion for others, as well as herself.
‘A gripping story, beautifully told . . . It takes real talent to produce a book like this. Its message could not be more urgent.’ – Sunday Times
‘Hate’s kryptonite.’ – Washington Examiner
‘An exceptional book.’ – The Times
‘A nuanced portrait of the lure and pain of zealotry.’ – New York Times
‘Unfolds like a suspense novel … A brave, unsettling, and fascinating memoir about the damage done by religious fundamentalism.’ – NPR
About the author
Megan Phelps-Roper was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church: the Topeka, Kansas religious group known internationally for its daily public protests against members of the LGBT community, Jews, the military, other Christians, and countless others. As a child, teenager, and early 20-something, she participated in the picketing almost daily and spearheaded the use of social media in the church. Dialogue with ‘enemies’ online proved instrumental in her deradicalisation, and she left the church and her entire way of life in November 2012. Since then she has become an advocate for people and ideas she was taught to despise – especially the value of empathy in dialogue with people across ideological lines. She lives in South Dakota.