Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper have had an emotional journey since 2012, when they left the hate-filled Westboro Baptist "Church" founded by their grandfather, Fred Phelps.
The catalyst for their flight? David Abitol, the founder of Jewlicious.com, who engaged with Megan over Twitter in a dialogue that helped crystallize one of her first intellectual objections with the WBC platform, reports the Jewish Journal.
Now the girls have become involved in Judaism, speaking at festivals like Jewlicious and Le Mood, and even attending Shabbat services.
Grace now regularly attends Friday night Shabbat services at Temple Beth Sholom, a Reform synagogue in Topeka, Kan., where she still catches glimpses of her family as they picket the exterior. She told the Jewish Journal, "I really like the singing." With regards to her family, she added "I don't know if they know I go."
The sisters are opening themselves up to the diverse religious points of view that the narrow-minded WBC stamps out. “We wanted to connect with people and talk and learn about other people’s views on God and life,” Megan told Beacon Reader's Jeff Chu in an interview.
Cut off entirely from their family, who is still closely involved with the group's primary activities of picketing funerals and concerts, the girls have struggled to find a new sense of community. They both deeply miss their parents and siblings.
Megan told the Jewish Journal, "There’s just something about the Jewish community that is so focused on ‘doing.'"
Grace added, "I love them Jews."