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A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church
Written by: Megan Phelps-Roper
Narrated by: Megan Phelps-Roper
Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (83 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The activist and TED speaker Megan Phelps-Roper reveals her life growing up in the most hated family in America

At the age of five, Megan Phelps-Roper began protesting homosexuality and other alleged vices alongside fellow members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Founded by her grandfather and consisting almost entirely of her extended family, the tiny group would gain worldwide notoriety for its pickets at military funerals and celebrations of death and tragedy. As Phelps-Roper grew up, she saw that church members were close companions and accomplished debaters, applying the logic of predestination and the language of the King James Bible to everyday life with aplomb - which, as the church’s Twitter spokeswoman, she learned to do with great skill. Soon, however, dialogue on Twitter caused her to begin doubting the church’s leaders and message: If humans were sinful and fallible, how could the church itself be so confident about its beliefs? As she digitally jousted with critics, she started to wonder if sometimes they had a point - and then she began exchanging messages with a man who would help change her life. 

A gripping memoir of escaping extremism and falling in love, Unfollow relates Phelps-Roper’s moral awakening, her departure from the church, and how she exchanged the absolutes she grew up with for new forms of warmth and community. Rich with suspense and thoughtful reflection, Phelps-Roper’s life story exposes the dangers of black-and-white thinking and the need for true humility in a time of angry polarization.

©2019 Megan Phelps-Roper (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I teared up with pride more than once.

Megan is a true modern day hero. From where she came from to where she is now is nothing short of awe striking.

I am a part of the LGBT community so have known about the Westboro Baptist Church for many years and really enjoyed this insight into it.

Highly recommend

2 people found this helpful

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  • M.
  • 2019-11-14

utterly fascinating

I'm never one to like authors reading their own work but MPR breaks the mold here. Her cadence combined with her prose was captivating and moving. Easily one of my favorite books of the year.

2 people found this helpful

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This Book is a Neccesity!

Incredibly moving and inspirational. A book all of us must read. Beautiful in every way.

1 person found this helpful

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  • JMS
  • 2020-05-16

Timely and Important

Well-written and an important cautionary story for our times. Even the most intelligent and self-reflective people can be victims of indoctrination and groupthink when living in an echo chamber. Great respect for Megan’s courage to break out of her bubble. Hopefully her work can inspire others to open their minds.

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Insight

Insight into something I just can't really comprehend. Thanks to Megan Phelps-Roper for her open, emotional, and probably difficult, memoir.
Having been raised mainstream Christian, I can not wrap my head around the beliefs- so Old Testament and fire and brimstone retribution-of some of these self proclaimed to be righteous, churches. Such hate and vitriol. No mention of Jesus and love one another, judge not, etc.
I can understand how hard it would have been for Megan and her sister to leave all they ever knew, their family and all the brainwashing of their very sheltered and controlled upbringing. Thank God they were strong enough and sincere enough to move forward and change their lives; to work to make the world a better place and promote understanding and acceptance of everyone.
How sad that some people will cut loved ones out of their life if they think they don't believe what they are told to believe and obey blindly.

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Very Interesting!

Although I was not familiar with Megan Phelps-Roper I purchased this book out of curiosity. I find learning about what people follow & believe is "Religion" very fascinating! Although I was raised with little church going and little God belief, I have since decided that Religion is a means of controlling people and is no different than any other "Business", they are out to make money. They are playing to humans innate desire for answers to the afterlife. Anyway, I find Megan's perspective interesting but very sad. I have never understood how people can just blindly follow an idea that to me just seems so ludicrous and unrealistic but Megan helped me understand how that can happen in a church/cult. This book gave me some insight and the reference she made to a book titled "The God Delusion" has peaked my curiosity even more.

The only thing stopping me from rating this a five star was some of the words used made it difficult to understand at times. As I am not a church goer, I didn't understand some things she spoke about. So there were still some things in the book I just didn't understand because I didn't know what the term meant. I looked up what I could, however there were things that could not be easily researched while driving or multitasking. I should have kept an example but can't think of any at the moment.

I will listen to this again to see if I can perhaps understand more the second time around. Megan did a good job overall writing this from her point of view. It gave me the perspective I wanted and didn't have prior to the book.

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Heartfully Raw - A Powerful Story

A powerful story, beautifully written. I am in awe of the raw vulnerability with which she describes her inner processing of the different parts of her journey, always communicating a deep, heartfelt honesty. There is nothing 'sensational' about this book - it is the a beautiful chronical of a beautiful transformation. I cried many times though this story, great, gut-wrenching sobs of a mixture of sorrow, guilt, pain, compassion, and awe. In this story, we are invited to connect with our own assumptions (past, present) and to choose the risk of leaving who we once knew ourselves to be, to shift into the unknown of transformation.

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  • 2019-10-10

So poignant, so well written, so moving

I never leave reviews, but felt compelled to share my thoughts on how important the message of this book is, and point out how beautifully Megan Phelps-Roper expresses her journey within its pages. In many ways, this book is a devastatingly compelling argument for nuance and open mindedness, and it begins by asking that the reader take an open minded look at how the Westboro Baptist Church came to undertake its actions in the first place. I honestly couldn't stop listening and binged the entire book within 24 hours.

To hear Megan's kind and generous fleshing out of how such radicalized positions came to seem reasonable within her family, to her descriptions of the seeds of her certainty's unraveling, to the lessons she draws about the arrogance of narrow mindedness and being certain that our ideas are more right than anyone else's... Megan is a testament to growth mindset if I have ever seen one.

I was raised without religion in a bastion of liberalism, and from my own (far distant) lens found so many lessons about how any clinging to 'rightness' is dangerous, no matter which angle you're coming from. At so many points throughout the book, I wanted to hug her, applaud her, and be her best friend. I am truly impressed not only by the journey she undertook, but also by the self awareness it must have taken to convey that arc so poignantly.

Well done, Megan. I eagerly await what you publish next.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Spudley
  • 2019-10-24

Thank you, Megan

I found myself laughing and crying right along with her. She, unlike myself, is a descriptive wonderful, thoughtful writer. I feel lucky to have had a chance to hear the story thay she has told. I will get the hardcover, just to put it on my bookcase. Thank you, Megan.

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  • booklover
  • 2019-10-12

Just amazing. Redemption and love and grace.

What a wonderful listen. I loved everything about it. Megan brings us into her typical day and life as part of the Westboro Baptist Church. More importantly she brings us into her everyday life of a family full of love, hugs, fun bedtime rituals, meals and everyday life. That everyday life shows us why she mourned as she left her family.

The book shows sides of nature vs nurture and how brave she was to question and think about what she was taught and believed. It’s amazing. All the while she was a special person.

I love the story of redemption and grace especially from those she showed no mercy.

Please take the time to listen and think. Think about both sides of the coin. She was brave and those she hated showed her mercy and kindness.

Thank you Megan!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-10-10

Unfollow

Brilliantly written book and beautifully narrated. This story is one of sadness and of great happiness. Megan‘s story draws you in and does not let you go until the end. This book needs to be read by all so you can understand the insight of a church and the bravery it took to leave and stand on your own.

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  • M. Midey
  • 2019-10-12

An unforgettable listen

I listened to this book all the way through well through the night. It is a wildly intriguing personal tale. Easily the best audiobook I have ever listened to.

4 people found this helpful

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  • karl
  • 2019-11-01

This was great

I enjoyed it so much. Delighted in hearing the author perform it in her deep sincerity

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  • Austin
  • 2020-05-26

Incredible story

The story is engaging throughout. The narration from the author adds depth and perspective.

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  • Angela Dieckman
  • 2020-05-17

So Fascinating and Enlightening

5/5: This story really impacted me. I think we all struggle to find truth, to know something for certain and to have clear parameters for life. Unfortunately, there are many institutions (not just church) that prey on that and purport to offer certainty and truth. I loved that Megan was intelligent in her desire to understand why she stopped believing not just in the certainty Westboro was offering but in certainty overall. While there was a lot of emotion for her in leaving, she was dispassionate in examining what she did and did not believe and what backed that up for her. I think this should be required reading for all pastors at the minimum. Religion can do a lot of harm when left unchecked in its certainty. It can also being a lot of love, belonging and good to the world and we need more of that.

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  • Stephen Werk
  • 2020-05-12

An exceptional book

This is an exceptional book. For me it started slowly but became increasingly interesting as I continued to listen to it. The changing relationships among people were compelling. The relationship of people to ideas was thought-provoking. I found it helpful to slow the narration slightly from a speed of 1 to a speed of .9 I hope there will be a sequel. It reminded me of 2 books: Educated and Rising Out of Hatred.

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  • Judith Dubecky
  • 2020-05-09

Do not understand.

Great book, how parent have a hold on people and family is not good to this exsteam.