They're known worldwide as the group from Kansas that protests at soldiers' funerals, and says God hates America because it allows homosexuality. Now, Westboro Baptist Church is reacting to the defection of a key member.
"She just decided she did not want to obey God," spokesman Steve Drain says. "She did not want to obey scripture."
She is Megan Phelps-Roper. The 27-year-old had risen to become a leader in the family church founded by her grandfather.
In a blog post, Phelps-Roper explains she and her 19-year-old sister, Grace changed their way of thinking. She doesn't go into detail but says she and her sister regret the hurt they have inflicted on others by participating in the Westboro group's activities. Read what she writes by clicking here.
"Wow!" author Paul Ibbetson says. Ibbetson researched Westboro for a book. We talked to him from his office in Hays.
"They are a very tight-knit group--very cultish in my opinion," Ibbetson says. "With folks like that--real intolerant and hold a tight reign--it's kind of surprising that you'd see anyone that close in the family, break away and take off. I'd be concerned for those girls leaving with the intolerance I dealt with."
Drain adds, " They have decided they would rather enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season that suffer affliction with the people of God."