I find that pretty interesting about the coup. I’m glad that they’re fading from existence.
The church itself may be fading but I’m not so sure about the attitudes they represent.
It’s kind of touching that Phelps’ attitude softened at the end of his life. But it’s really sad that he couldn’t have come to this realisation before setting up his bullshit cult.
In sociology of religion we learn that cults are like any other organisations - some of them expand and gain traction as they do so, while others rapidly decay, split, experience coups and the like. The Life of Brian scriptwriters actually display considerable theological knowledge and sophistication. To grow, cults need to offer something to their members, positive as well as negative. Westboro seems to be entirely negative other than giving its followers the thrill of engaging in anti-social behaviour in public without sanctions. That’s a thrill that must soon become tedious.
Once it was clear that Westboro wasn’t expanding, the only question was how long it would take to schism/implode.
Is it really a cult?
I thought it was all about making money?
Many cults are. The most spectacular cult that became successful is probably the Mormons, founded by a convicted confidence trickster. The Prosperity Gospel is entirely about money making cults.
But the people they attract are not likely to realise this. They are duped.
Megan Phelps-Roper seems to have been brought up with a great deal of sense of entitlement - the idea that her views and those of the church needed a large public forum. She obviously seeks publicity. People like that are ideal targets for cults; if they can produce them internally so much the better. They promote the message and people are less likely to look at the man behind the curtain.
Less media-savvy? How sad.
The leaders of cults are those who make the money. It’s the flock that’s fleeced into bizarre beliefs.
Good for her.
Thanks for posting a link to this. It’s interesting reading. I haven’t finished it yet, but hopefully will have time after work to read the rest of it. The Phelps clan has always been a source of fascination for me, because it’s such a virulent madness, yet so gleeful in its hate. At one time I thought maybe they were a false flag operation of some sort, but Poe’s law and all.
Most cults are about accumulating power (and money is power) for the people who start them.
The bizarre beliefs are essential. Who would join a cult that’s not original? It’s like the old joke about the Unitarian missionary who rings your doorbell, but then they’re not sure why.
This is the person described in the article as “known for her mastery of the Bible” but is easily contradicted by multiple people for her cherry-picked quotes. When faced with these contradictions, she seems genuinely confused. Her response: Don’t think about it.
Her church starts “foretelling” whack-job prophecies of the Antichrist and Armageddon that she can see are blatantly bogus. So… Don’t think about it.
After years of spewing hate speech (expressed with no small amount of glee) she finally learns to feel sad. Her family doesn’t share her sadness at the death of an actress. So… Don’t think about it.
The retrograde hierarchy that she benefited from started to turn on her own family and treat women with disdain that she thought was appropriate for people who were NOT her. NOW she realizes the errors with her church!
Are we really supposed to feel bad for this narcissistic quasi-sociopath?
I don’t think the point of the article is to make you feel bad for her so much as to make you feel generally hopeful that even people who are thoroughly indoctrinated have a chance of breaking free.
After reading this, I queued up the Blind Pilot song from the article (“Just One”), and was reminded how universal he feeling of doubt can be. I mean, I had a hard time building up to the point where I came out against the religion I was raised in (which wasn’t really that big of a deal, given my parent’s Christmas and Easter casual Catholicism). The greatest thing I took from that was a deeper appreciation for unchecked assumptions and a deeper desire to know more about people and the world we live in. Hell, it took another decade after that to really feel like I was beginning to grasp what’s going on; honestly, I never will, but the fun is in the journey, not the destination.
After hearing about the unending torrent of contempt that Westboro poured on the world, I am deeply moved that Peace, Love, & Understanding can still win.
I’m glad to see her feeling guilt for her behavior. I’ve yet to see actual contrition or attempts at remediation. Wake me up when she opens a non-profit dedicated to relieving victims of religious persecution.
I might accept that if she were just some kid indoctrinated by the church, but she wasn’t. She was repeatedly confronted by how screwed up the church was, but was fine with ignoring things until it actually affected her as a member of the (previously) most privileged family.
It’s always easy for the former dictator to denounce the tyranny of the new dictator.
Remember, we are neither the gatekeepers nor measurers of contrition. And the journey that even those we find reprehensible isn’t ours to judge, especially when it ain’t over.
I like incremental positive change.
Honestly, what is the alternative? I was a bad person in my 20’s. (Well, not really bad, but absolutely stupid)
Can’t people learn?
True change has to come from within. In religious circles, being told that you are wrong is a test of faith, not an opportunity for stoic reflection and considered doubt.
The point of the article wasn’t that she finally changed her mind after people kept yelling at her, it’s that she changed her mind after her ideological foes consistently engaged with her on a personal and humane level. If only we could all conduct ourselves with such considered restraint.