QUEER VOICES
05/08/2013 11:53 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Libby Phelps-Alvarez, Former Westboro Baptist Church Member, Breaks Down On Anderson Cooper Show

Yesterday, ex-Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) member Libby Phelps-Alvarez appeared on Anderson Cooper's "Anderson Live" to discuss growing up in the WBC and why she left.

The granddaughter of Fred Phelps, founder of the group known for spreading anti-gay messages and picketing funerals, said that she began her work with the Church at 8 years old and initially thought that she was doing an admirable thing.

“In the moment, I thought I was doing the right thing,” she explained to Cooper. “I thought the only way to love your neighbor was to tell them that their sins were taking them to hell.”

Phelps-Alvarez, who has now been shunned by the Church after defecting, said that she eventually began to doubt Westboro's mission.

"I believed it when I was there and then I got to an age where I started questioning some things and I just got to a point where I ended up leaving," she said.

The exclusive interview then turned emotional when the mother of a man whose funeral Westboro picketed expressed her hurt and pain. As Queerty notes, Phelps-Alvarez broke down in tears, apologized and said that she now understands the anguish that the group has caused.

In recent months many former Westboro members have publicly spoken out against the group. Ex-WBC member Lauren Drain said that she was brainwashed, manipulated and controlled when she described her experience on "Piers Morgan Tonight" in March.

Nate Phelps has also blogged for HuffPost Gay Voices about his experiences with the Westboro Baptist Church and why he left.

Watch the clip above.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that Phelps-Alvarez was present at the picketing of the funeral involving the son of an "Anderson Live" audience member. She was no longer a member of the church at that time.

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