Grandson of Westboro Baptist Church founder leaves group, says his 'mind is free'
Four of the 10 Phelps-Roper siblings have left the church.
Another family member of the founder of the highly controversial Westboro Baptist Church has left the group.
23-year old Zach Phelps-Roper left the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) in February, and says that he is happier now than he has ever been.
Phelps-Roper is the grandson of deceased WBC founder Fred Phelps, and the fourth grandchild to leave the controversial church.
WBC is known for protesting military funerals, carrying signs declaring that God hates America and homosexuals, thanking God for natural disasters, and other contentious messages.
Now, Phelps-Roper says he has replaced hate with love.
"I feel like I have unconditional love for every person around the world," Phelps-Roper the Topeka Capital-Journal on Friday. "The Westboro Baptist Church sees things differently than I do now."
The former nurse said he began to have doubts about his family's beliefs when he was 18. He especially had a hard time with the teaching that God hated sinners.
"I viewed my creator as sadistic," he said. "He sent them to hell because they sinned, but He compelled them to sin. I felt it was an injustice."
Phelps-Roper said he tried to leave the church several times, but felt guilty about leaving his family.
"I didn't want to be there, but at the same time, I did," he explained. "Something just didn't feel right.
"I love my family. But they are not willing, at this point in time, to listen to other perspectives."
Since leaving the WBC compound, the young man said he has been overwhelmed by love and support. He has reconnected with over 20 family members that he was banned from speaking to, and strangers have reached out to him online. Phelps-Roper also said that instead of just seeing the problems, he can now see solutions to America's issues.
"Now that my mind is free from these mind traps, I can see clearly what needs to be done," he said.
"I believe that empathy and unconditional love are what is absolutely necessary for us to free ourselves and each other from mind traps and from the many problems that are plaguing our society."