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Hate-Filled Protester Transformed By 'Soft Answer'

Megan Phelps-Roper has been on the picket lines for the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church since the age of five. The members are notorious for picketing the funerals of American soldiers because of their stance on war. They also publicly celebrate natural disasters and tragedies because it is an expression of God’s judgement. Their exploits have made the news world-wide.

It wasn’t until 2012 that Phelps-Roper began to have a change of mind and heart. Thanks to Twitter! She zealously debated people on Twitter, but soon things changed:

People I'd sparred with on Twitter would come out to the picket line to see me when I protested in their city … We started to see each other as human beings, and it changed the way we spoke to one another. It took time, but eventually these conversations planted seeds of doubt in me.

Leaving Westboro, which included family and close friends, was extremely difficult. They never spoke to her again. She also believed she would be shunned by those she verbally fought with: “And I wanted to hide from the world I'd rejected for so long--people who had no reason at all to give me a second chance after a lifetime of antagonism.”

Phelps-Roper soon understood Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (KJV) She comments on today’s partisan political bitterness and the people who influenced her:

I remember this path. It will not take us where we want to go. We have to talk and listen to people we disagree with. And I will always be inspired to do so by those people I encountered on Twitter--apparent enemies who became my beloved friends. They … came to me with pointed questions tempered with kindness and humor. They approached me as a human being and that was more transformative than two full decades of outrage, disdain, and violence.

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