Topeka, Kan. – Megan Phelps-Roper, advocate for marginalized people and former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, will appear at Washburn University on Tuesday, October 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Washburn Room of the Memorial Union. She will be on hand for a reading from her new memoir, “Unfollow,” along with a book signing. The event, part of a national book tour, is free and open to the public, but reserving tickets is requested. Capacity is 500 people. .
She will be joined by Washburn University Professor Eric McHenry who was one of her English professors and who encouraged Phelps-Roper to tell her story.
Phelps-Roper is a graduate of Washburn University and was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) -- a church founded by her grandfather. Civil dialogue with "enemies" online proved instrumental in her de-radicalization, and she has become an advocate for people and ideas she was taught to despise -- especially the value of empathy in dialogue with people across ideological lines.
In her memoir, Phelps-Roper tells the story of her protests, beginning at the age of five, against homosexuality and other alleged vices alongside fellow members of WBC. The group –consisting almost entirely of her extended family -- gained notoriety for its pickets at military funerals and celebrations of death and tragedy.
This will be the second speaking appearance at Washburn for Phelps-Roper since she decided to leave WBC. The first came last year and marked her first speaking engagement in Topeka. Since that time, she has continued to speak out publicly against intolerance while working on her book.