Guest Bio: Megan Phelps-Roper is a social media activist, lobbying to overcome divisions and hatred between religious and political divides. Formerly a prominent member of the Westboro Baptist Church, she left the church with her sister Grace in November of 2012.
Topics Discussed: What it was like growing up in the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC); she thought they were helping people; why the church protests soldiers’ funerals; they feel they are doing the right thing; reaction to the church protesting funerals; what her first time protesting a funeral was like; what made her leave the church; conversations through Twitter helped her leave; talking with a Jewish person on Twitter; she protested a Jewish cultural festival; her church is against violence; learning about repentance from the Jewish guy; contradictions in the church; why does the church use slurs for gay people; Joe explains the origins of the word “faggot“; she and her sister left the church together in their mid/late twenties; they must be obedient to the laws of men; the church is a culture of tattle-tails; her social life was connected to the church; she met her husband on Twitter; she was supposed to date someone from the church; her relationship with her sister; how she left the church; they didn’t forcibly try to make her stay, but tried to convince her; the church isn’t a cult, but aspects are cult-ish; she had no job outside the church; meeting Louis Theroux when he made his The Most Hated Family in America documentary about them; she has a degree in finance; Left Behind movies; women aren’t allowed to cut their hair in the church; clothes and wearing two different types of fabric; New Testament; the church wouldn’t address older versions of the bible; why does God punish some people; the bible can be interpreted different ways; the bible is written in a style that we don’t use to communicate anymore; (1:00:00) she loves/loved the style in which the bible was written; Joe thinks the bible is interesting as a time capsule; 300,000-year-old bones found in Morocco; evolution wasn’t taught; The Paleo Manifesto book; Twitter changed her life; talk about Twitter; learning to hate the evil and love the good; moments don’t define people; So You’ve Been Publically Shamed book; we love when people do bad things; people looking for things to get offended at; the tweet that ruined Justine Sacco’s life; Sarah Silverman talked about the WBC in her latest Netflix special; people are the product of their experiences; we like to put people in boxes; she didn’t get a job immediately after leaving the church; they would protest Scientology; the church had signs that said “Thank God for 9/11” at a parade for Obama’s (?) first inauguration; they would stand on American flags; her mom was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor; police protecting people; violence on campuses; the church has a right to protest; should the cops protect the protesters; first amendment rights; the church’s goal wasn’t violence; debate about police protection for the church and its protesters; Joe thinks part of her still wants to defend the church; her cousin has also left the church; she moved to Deadwood, South Dakota with her sister; other family members have left; she doesn’t talk to family who are still with the church; following family members on Twitter; her mom was once kicked off Twitter; her mom blocked her on Twitter; her mom won’t talk to her; debating family on Twitter; pointing out contradictory bible verses to her family on Twitter; talk about the meaning of “neighbor” in the bible; the church is an echo chamber; she and her sister were staying with Jehovah’s witnesses; she got a job at a marketing company; how did she change her views; people were understanding and empathetic to her after she left the church; realizing she knew nothing about the Jewish religion and its people; (2:00:00) speaking at a Jewish festival; travelling after leaving the church; she hasn’t spoken to her dad, but has spoken with his family; she left the church less than 5 years ago; she sees no evidence of God and doesn’t believe in him; atheism; we don’t know enough about the universe to say there is no God; Joe talks again about Moses, the burning bush, and DMT; saying there is no God is just as silly as saying there is one; the Jehovah’s witnesses she knows left their church; Jehovah’s witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays; it’s important to question things and look for evidence; she would love to talk to her mom; she thinks someone from the church will listen to this podcast; she hopes her brothers and sisters will leave; prayer and praying; the church would send out a flyer of the soldiers that have died and ask for more deaths; she’s writing a book; she’s hesitant about teaching anyone anything; she doesn’t walk around with a sense of certainty or righteousness; the church says the human heart is deceitful; contradictory verses in the bible; man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty don’t go together; she misses her grandfather very much; the problem with ideologies is that they can’t be questioned; comfort in patterns and certainty; uncertainty after leaving the church was overwhelming; just be a good person; we want to join teams; humans are weird; people have a hard time changing; she lived with a Rabbi that she once called a whore; she still holds onto so much from home; the bible is comforting and familiar to her still; the bible and religion is like mathematics to Joe; justifying your thinking by demonizing other types of thinking; she’s not trying to hurt or embarrass the church, she wants to help; admitting that she fucked up and her life was a lie; “Weird” Al Yankovic’s “Everything You Know is Wrong” song; people feel imprisoned by their past; it’s hard for people to admit they don’t know something or when they’ve messed up; wrestling with uncertainty; we’re in the middle of a storm of understanding; more talk about Twitter and how it has helped her.
My Thoughts: Sticks to talk about the church and her life since leaving. If you enjoyed the podcasts about Scientology, you’ll like this one as well.
Podcast Video: Below is a video of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast episode #974 available for streaming via YouTube.
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