America’s most hated family – homophobic ‘cult’ and woman who escaped | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

The Westboro Baptist Church first found notoriety after Louis Theroux’s 2007 documentary called ‘The Most Hated Family in America’ – revealing their extremely hateful views on the LGBTQ+ community

Noah Phelps-Roper, Louis Theroux, Margie and Pastor Fred Phelps(BBC)

They’ve been dubbed America’s ‘most hated family’ and it seems there’s no level they won’t stoop to in order to shock.

The family within the Westboro Baptist church, based in Topeka, Kansas, first found notoriety after featuring in Louis Theroux’s 2007 documentary, which revealed their extremely hateful views on the LGBTQ+ community and regular pickets against US soldiers’ funerals with placards reading ‘God Hates F**s’. Over a decade after first visiting, the film-maker returned to meet with the family for a follow-up episode called Louis Theroux: Surviving America’s Most Hated Family in 2019 – which airs again this Sunday on BBC2. And much like the first documentary, viewers will need to brace themselves for the extreme hatred and despicable views that earned them their ‘most hated’ title.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, left, talks with her daughter, Megan Phelps-Roper,(MCT via Getty Images)

The hate group was led by its patriarch, the church founder and figurehead, Pastor Fred Phelps, who believed he was a prophet chosen by God to “preach his message of hate”. Phelps – known as Gramps – passed away in 2014, but the group, largely made up of his family, remained ongoing.

The church bases its entire work around the belief that ‘God hates f**gs’ and expresses the opinion that nearly every tragedy is God’s punishment for homosexuality. This is shown most clearly in their condemned picketing of US soldiers’ funerals, where they hold signs blaming their deaths on the country’s tolerance of homosexuality and LGBT people. They have been seen holding signs reading ‘Thank God For Dead Soldiers’.

Louis’s return to the most hated family was prompted by the departure of a young member of the church he had previously interviewed, Megan, who was the daughter of Shirley Phelps-Roper – the most committed member of the group. She opens up about finding a community on Twitter who help her question how she had become indoctrinated by her family and came to the conclusion that she needed to leave.

Shirley Phelps-Roper (R) and her daughter Megan of the Westboro Baptist Church(AFP via Getty Images)

When the pandemic hit in 2020, the church used the opportunity to spread their message that Covid was a punishment for disobeying God. Shirley, who acts as spokesperson for the church, had signs that said God had sent the virus “in fury”.

They have similarly odious views when it comes to the climate crisis, telling Louis Therous: “Don’t call it climate change, call it God Almighty repaying you to his face for your hatred of him. I’m so thankful it goes down to my toes. The Lord sent us to tell you the world is doomed and that you cannot keep going in this way.”

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