Members of the Westboro Baptist Church held signs reading "Pray for more Dead Kids" and "Thank God For IEDs", outside the Supreme Court on Oct. 6, 2010.
Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
TOPEKA, Kan. - Former members of the Kansas church known for picketing funerals with signs reading "God Hates America" are speaking out.
Megan Phelps Roper is the granddaughter of Westboro Baptist Church pastor and founder Fred Phelps.
She and her 19-year-old sister, Grace Phelps-Roper, left the church in November.
"We know that we've done and said things that hurt people,” Megan, the 27-year-old who once spearheaded the church’s social media efforts, said in a statement. “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."
Westboro member Steve Drain says the women had to get out to show that they didn’t believe in the ideals of the church anymore.
"She just decided that she didn't want to obey God,” Drain said. “She didn't want to obey the scripture, she didn't want to believe these things anymore and think about it, I would never suggest that she stay here if she doesn't believe in these things."
Megan is the daughter of Shirley Phelps, another high-profile member of the church. Megan refers to her family in the statement, saying:
"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."
Drain says there are no hard feelings for those who leave the church.
"We are bound by the scripture,” Drain said. “And when somebody decides that they don't want to be bound by the scripture, they leave, and our position is, ‘Well, bye, good luck with that.’"
Drain says members do not keep in contact with those who leave the church.
Libby Phelps Alvarez is another former member of the church. She told NBC’s “Today” show on Wednesday she packed up her life four years ago and never looked back.
“My aunt emailed me and said no one wants to talk to you anymore,” Libby told “Today.”
When asked on “Today” what she might say to the younger generation in her family’s church, she responded she would tell them she loves them.
“And that people aren't evil like we were taught,” Libby continued. “And even though I am crying, life isn't full of evil and sadness and sorrow. You can live a happy and good life."
Drain says the church does not close its doors to anyone who shares its beliefs.
He says losing a member is not uncommon for the church, which started picketing funerals 20 years ago.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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