Raising hate

Raising hateI watched an interview of Libby Phelps Alvarez on Anderson Live the other day. I admit I didn’t know anything about her (other than the fact that Phelps typically equals Westboro Baptist Church) prior to watching, so I did some searching and found this rather long but informative article. In case you’re as in the dark as I was and you don’t feel like watching the interview or reading the article, here’s the rundown:

Libby was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church. She started picketing soldiers’ funerals when she was 8 years old. She grew up believing that she was doing what she was doing out of love. That’s what she was taught. Her family loved her and treated her well . . . and the message they were sending was her entire world.

As Libby got older and she began thinking for herself, she started to see what was wrong with how she was raised, and she finally left WBC and her family. Her parents won’t speak to her and the only family she has any contact with are those who have also left the “church.” Not only has Libby left WBC, she’s now working with Planting Peace (the nonprofit organization responsible for the Equality House).

End of recap.

So what’s the purpose of all this? Pretty much that I’m bothered by all of the people bashing Libby. I understand that she has done some horrible things in the past and that her actions have hurt others. She also understands that. But would we bash someone who was raised in a cult and later managed to escape? Because that’s exactly what this is.

I consider Libby to a victim in all of this as well. She didn’t choose to be born in to that family. She didn’t choose to be raised with hate-filled “virtues.” This is so much more than just being raised by a hateful, bigoted family. They’ve built an entire culture around this. They indoctrinate children from birth. And so yes, even with everything Libby has done in the past, I commend her for what she is doing now.

I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to give up everything you know for the world outside, to not only walk away, but to help those fighting for equality who have set up operations across the street from those you walked away from (see the Equality House link if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

I wouldn’t normally write about anything concerning WBC (hell, I won’t even post FB updates that mention them in any way) because I believe it gives them exactly what they want – attention. I believe this story deserves to be the exception. This is the story of a young woman leaving a cult. Because it’s not a church. It’s not a religion. It is a hate-inspired cult. And anyone who is able to break free from that should be welcomed into the real world.

We can’t expect the world to change if we can’t forgive those who have changed.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. I agree with you! I didn’t know anything about Libby but I think it’s wonderful that she left WBC. They give a bad name to churches, because I agree, they are not a church. I was actually born and raised up until college IN a Baptist Church and it was nothing like Westboro….I was going to church when 9/11 happened and never heard anyone say it was punishment or it was good in ANY way. The church prayed for everyone involved and we thought it was horrible. Because of that background, this church disgusts me even more. Good for Libby for getting out! Sometimes it takes growing up and learning to think for yourself before you start to see things in a new life. I am sure she feels bad enough for the things she did and said and the right thing to do is for us and others to forgive and embrace her….exactly what the WBC does NOT do!


    • “the right thing to do is for us and others to forgive and embrace her….exactly what the WBC does NOT do!”

      Exactly. I don’t think many people realize what it must have been like growing up in their “church.” It’s one thing to grow up with bigoted parents and to reject that, but to grow up where an entire congregation rallies around these beliefs? I can’t imagine it. I am grateful for anyone who manages to break away from that.


  2. “We can’t expect the world to change if we can’t forgive those who have changed.” – I agree completely.

    I hate that this cult calls themselves a church and Christians. Like Sharon, I was raised a Baptist and it was nothing like this. I’m glad this girl got out. What she did takes courage and that should be recognized.


    • My grandparents and great-grandparents were Baptists and I’m 100% certain that they would never have supported anything like WBC! It’s sad when extremist hate groups try to mask themselves in religion.


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