A former member of the Westboro Baptist Church has given the rest of us a disturbing look inside the closed doors of the controversial hate group. Most shockingly (but unsurprisingly) she recalled “we started praying for people to die.”
Libby Phelps Alvarez was a member of the Westboro Baptist Church since she was 8-years-old, and frequently traveled the country protesting funerals. Like other members of the family-based cult, she was present at funerals of soldiers, victims of violence, and those killed in hate crimes.
“They think that they’re fighting for a nation that supports homosexuality,” Alvarez explained on TODAY.
Alvarez said that she first started questioning the church when her friend’s husband died while serving in the military. Of course, Westboro Baptist picketed the funeral.
“There was a point when we started praying for people to die,” she said. “I didn’t actually do that but I was around when they did it.”
Explaining the motives of the hate group, Alvarez revealed that Westboro Baptist members believe that they are the only people on earth who will go to heaven in the end:
“They think that they are the only ones who are going to heaven and if you don’t go to that church you’re going to hell,” she said.
She left the church four years ago, attempting to slip away quietly.
“I was terrified I was never going to see my family again,” she said, and her fears proved true in the end. “My aunt emailed me and said that nobody wants to talk to me anymore,” she confessed.
Alvarez hopes that other family members of hers will follow her example over time.
“I would tell them I love them and that people aren’t evil like we were taught,” she said. “And even though I am crying right now, life isn’t full of sadness and sorrow and disease and heartache like they told us. You can lead a happy and good life.”
Libby Phelps Alvarez is hardly the only Phelps family member who has fled Westboro Baptist. One of the more famous and active ex-Westboro Baptist members is Nathan Phelps, the son of church founder Fred Phelps. The Huffington Post reports that Nate Phelps is currently a public speaker on child abuse and religion, and has made a number of accusations against his father. He currently identifies as an atheist. Conversely, Libby says that she is searching for another church to attend.