Imagine for a moment that you are a highly visible member of a small, vocal group. You’ve grown up in that community of people, the vast majority of whom are your family members. You work for them and with them, every day. The rest of the world is made up of sinners who are blind to the true meaning of life and of God’s teachings.
Then, a sliver of doubt appears in your mind. The cracks of doubt splinter off each other and become deeper, wider. You begin to consider the unthinkable — leaving your family and your church behind.
This is the story of Megan Phelps-Roper, about her life in the Westboro Baptist Church, in her own words.
Unfollow is a uniquely compelling book written by a fascinating woman. It is obvious that Phelps-Roper grew up reading the Bible, as her sentences are beautiful on their own and gorgeous when strung together into paragraphs. There is a lyricism to her writing style which distinguishes it from that of other young authors.
Phelps-Roper’s book invites readers inside of the world of the Westboro Baptist Church, which was founded by her grandfather. As she describes her family life and upbringing, it’s easy to see how she and her siblings and cousins were indoctrinated in their youth. She mentions a few family members who left the fold, and how those left behind see them as lost to Satan forever.
As she grows up and finishes her schooling, Phelps-Roper is proud to be her mother’s right-hand woman, taking on the daily responsibilities of scheduling travel, protests, and being the Twitter arm of the WBC. As her mother faces criticism and harsh punishment from the church, though, Phelps-Roper begins to experience doubt.
As she leans into this doubt and asks questions, seeking answers from the Bible and other church members, she also approaches people with whom she’s interacted on Twitter and relays her questions to them. I actually cried tears of joy in this section of her tale. The capacity of human beings to forgive and to heal is remarkable.
Her entire story is remarkable, and worth reading. The language and lifestyle can be harsh and tough to read about, but you will likely find yourself uplifted by the end of her journey.