TOPEKA, Kan. -- Known for their "God Hates Fags" slogan, they're one of the most notorious churches in the United States. And now, Westboro Baptist Church is two members short.
Megan Phelps-Roper, 27, one of the most prominent members of the Topeka-based church, has left the congregation. Following in her footsteps is her 19-year-old sister Grace.
It's a hard hit for the church. Phelps-Roper was responsible for the majority of the church's social media relations. Fittingly, Phelps-Roper announced her departure online. In a blog post titled, "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise," she confesses she has become disillusioned with the teachings of the church, founded by her grandfather Fred Phelps. Her mother, Shirley Lynn Phelps-Roper, is considered one of the most out-spoken members.
"We know that we dearly love our family," Phelps-Roper writes. "They now consider us betrayers, and we are cut off from their lives, but we know they are well-intentioned. We will never not love them.
Since the departure of Phelps-Roper and her younger sister, others in the church have publicly condemned them.
"She just decided that she didn't want to obey God," said Steve Drain of Westboro. "She didn't want to obey the scripture."
Drain said the sisters would rather enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season rather than suffer affliction with the people of God. But it was within the church that Phelps-Roper and her sister experienced the most affliction, causing them to leave.
"We know that we've done and said things that hurt people," Phelps-Roper writes.
"Inflicting pain on others wasn't the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren't so, and regret that hurt.
"We know that we can't undo our whole lives. We can't even say we'd want to if we could; we are who we are because of all the experiences that brought us to this point. What we can do is try to find a better way to live from here on. That's our focus."
In her post, Phelps-Roper acknowledges that her actions within the church will long be remembered. She adds, however, that what she does with the rest of her life will be remembered too. She said she hopes "the changes we make in our lives will speak for themselves."