Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Leaving the Cult for a huge, wide world


The story of Megan Phelps, the granddaughter of the infamous Rev. Phelps, leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, is in fact one in which I can deeply identify. After the church’s hateful image, it is understandable that people will react. But the reaction, as I’m seeing from Queerty on a friend’s Google+ post:

…is innacurate. The story as told by Queerty at least ends with honesty:
It’s easy to shame Megan for the damage she’s done to the world in general, but she’s confident God’s forgiveness is on her side. Will the gays be as forgiving?
But Megan’s blog post announcing her departure shows anything but hatred for WBC, and that’s kind of the point. She’s leaving WBC to leave hate, not to hate them:
We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt.
We know that we dearly love our family. They now consider us betrayers, and we are cut off from their lives, but we know they are well-intentioned. We will never not love them.
Honestly, I can understand this. I do not hate Christianity, I do not hate my old church or the people in it, nor do I hate, nor think it’s stupid, when someone has an experience that makes them come to believe in something of this nature. Otherwise, I’d hate myself. I came to believe at the age of 21 after two decades of atheism. I’m back to atheism, of course, but with an understanding of how a person gets there.
I, however, was not brought up in that. Megan was. Following and believing what is indoctrinated into her, she has now had a waking experience. And we cannot get onto her for that. She will answer for 27 years of her family’s actions, but let’s not make her answer for leaving. That’s what should be rewarded. To say:
We think she’s on the fast track to having a new gay BFF.
Is mere conjecture. If anything she probably felt the pain of seeing her sister, Grace, leave and the way she was treated. And what she’s going through is a powerful culture shock. When I left my cult, I went from having friends everywhere, to having people I wanted to avoid everywhere. I don’t think they have friends everywhere, but I know they had a closeness that even I didn’t have.
And when I left, I realized that all the judgment I’d made towards every other faith and person in the world had been hugely unfair. I vowed to learn the truth about those paths, and I made good on that promise, to at least understand they’re different from me and those differences are just fine. I walked a path in Gnostic thought, paganism, even studied the Church of Satan, and found people in all of these deserving of respect not judgment. And then had the courage to step out into the gay man that I was.
I hope Megan makes good on her new adventure, and that she finds the amazing world in front of her might start off as scary, but is full of more possibility than she’d ever dreamed, all of which is beautiful and worthy of love. And I do wish her, finally, to have life and it more abundantly.
And furthermore, I hope she joins us at Pride, so she can see one hell of a fabulously beautiful party.