There's a Movie in the Works About Former Westboro Baptist Church Member Megan Phelps-Roper

A member of the Westboro Baptist Church pickets the funeral of Antonin Scalia. Photo via Getty Images.
A member of the Westboro Baptist Church pickets the funeral of Antonin Scalia. Photo via Getty Images.

Currently in the works: This Above All, a movie about the life of Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of the founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church and a former member, until she turned her back on the group.

Deadline says that (500) Days of Summer’s Marc Webb will direct, while Nick Hornby is doing the screenplay and Reese Witherspoon is among the producers. It’ll draw on both her upcoming memoir and Adrian Chen’s 2015 New Yorker profile, which recounted how Phelps-Roper became a youthful mouthpiece for the organization and jointed Twitter to spread the congregation’s cruel gospel, before changing her mind. The weird digital intimacy of Twitter made her reconsider the positions she’d come to the platform to spread. From Chen’s profile:

As Phelps-Roper continued to tweet, she developed relationships with more people like Hughes. There was a Jewish marketing consultant in Brooklyn who abhorred Westboro’s tactics but supported the church’s right to express its views. There was a young Australian guy who tweeted political jokes that she and her younger sister Grace found hilarious. “It was like I was becoming part of a community,” Phelps-Roper said. By following her opponents’ feeds, she absorbed their thoughts on the world, learned what food they ate, and saw photographs of their babies. “I was beginning to see them as human,” she said. When she read about an earthquake that struck off Canada’s Pacific coast, she sent a concerned tweet to Graham Hughes: “Isn’t this close to you?”


Earlier this year, she gave a TED talk about her process of leaving the group, meeting much more warmth and empathy than Westboro seems to offer anybody.

Senior Editor, Attic Haunter, Jezebel

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Masshole James, Unstable Genius

I honestly can’t wait for this! Truly awful people fascinate me and I’m a total sucker for stories about truly awful people who’ve found redemption. I’ll camp out for this shit like it was a Star Wars movie.

Also, one can make the point that the WBC were the original internet trolls that everyone from Alex Jones to Trump learned from. I think they were the ones that invented Internet Outrage Culture in order to make themselves a big deal (even tho there’s only five of them.)

My secret shame: I love their horrible parodies.