Another Fred Phelps relative leaves Westboro Baptist Church

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church picket a city park near their church in Topeka, Kan.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church picket a city park near their church in Topeka, Kan.

Another relative of the founder of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church is calling it quits.

Zach Phelps-Roper, the 23-year-old grandson of Fred Phelps, the church's founder, told The Topeka Capital-Journal that he was abandoning the Kansas-based religious group, arguing its members are too busy focusing on problems instead of looking for solutions. He is the fourth of his 10 siblings to leave the church.

“I feel like I have unconditional love for every person around the world,” he told the paper. “The Westboro Baptist Church sees things differently than I do now.” Phelps-Roper, a former nurse, officially moved out of the church’s “compound” on Feb. 20, about a month before Fred Phelps died at the age of 84.

Phelps-Roper also said he was troubled how his former church depicted gay people to be violent, adding that the gay men and women he has met have been among the most loving and supportive.

Fred Phelps founded the church in 1955, and its members have repeatedly held signs with messages like “God hates fags" and “God hates America” at funerals for public officials, soldiers and gay Americans. The church is not affiliated with any other mainstream Baptist groups.

The Westboro Baptist Church has another stunt on the horizon with plans to protest at several university commencements this month. The group is calling the students “filthy, base, illiterate, Godless, Bible-deprived, God-hating, God-hated, without-hope young people.”