Important advice for @meganphelps
A lot of people have a lot of advice for Megan. I feel like some of you (us?) are piling upon hopes that she will transform into an atheist, or perhaps a "better" Christian (presumably more in keeping with someone else's conception of what a good Christian is to be), or maybe even that she will come full circle on LGBT issues and become some sort of advocate.
I'll let Megan undergo her own transformation, or lack thereof. My advice is unsolicited, unneeded, and comes from a nobody (me), and it is as follows: I hope simply that Megan takes care of herself. That was it. And I don't think she needed anyone to tell her that...
I have no demands for amends, because I do not feel like I (as a gay man or as a Jew) have ever been harmed by anything she or her family has done. I understand others may disagree. I understand that even she may disagree. But that is OK.
Westboro Baptist Church makes a lot of people very, very upset. But in my book, according to my values, they are a particularly unoffensive church. Granted, I know very little of what goes on behind their doors in Topeka. I have read the accusations in Addicted to Hate, and other sources, that paint a picture of a harsh and abusive existence within the family. But I have not been there. How they conduct their affairs internally, as a Church or as a family (and Westboro definitely blurs that line) are not my business. If things are as bad as they have been depicted, then I earnestly hope that everyone who has left the Church finds the healing that they almost certainly need.
I find Westboro unoffensive because they conduct what I consider to be the appropriate business for a Church: they preach. And loudly! And because, if I am to take them at their word (and why, pray tell, shouldn't I?), they do it out of what is, at least to them, a feeling of love for their fellow man. "WARN THY NEIGHBOR: REBUKE!" is not a Topeka innovation. It's basic Calvinism. I may criticize the origin of the doctrine, since I am not a Bible believer, which means I consider it (and everything that grew out of it), to be a bunch of poppycock. But to call Westboro hateful would be to ignore what I consider to be a sincere concern for the souls of mankind.
I don't need anyone's concern for my soul, and quite frankly, G-d as I understand him (she? it?) has no issue whatever with the fact that I'm gay, Jewish, or fairly agnostic. But Westboro shares, in very plain and easy-to-understand language, that they are concerned I am going to hell. That's nice of them, I guess. I may disagree with them on the basis of that "Truth", and thus on the conclusions derived therein, but what is there to really get upset about? I should hope that someone would be so kind! Especially if it were true!
And who am I to say that it's not? Who is anyone? Or, rather, who is anyone to be so certain that Westboro is wrong that they must be silenced? I cheered Westboro's victory in the Supreme Court, because it was founded, to me, not in some blind obeisance to freedom of speech, but rather in the spirit of humility that I believe is the essential underpinning of the Establishment Clause. The spirit of humility that dictates that no one, particularly no Caesar (and Washington certainly is the Caesar of our times) can be so sure that anyone else's faith or doctrine is incorrect that they can silence that person, or dictate a contrary belief as the official line of Truth.
Going to hell is very serious business. I should hope that someone would have the freedom to warn me about it. I should hope that that freedom would trump whether it hurts someone's feelings or desecrated some sacred cow (and Westboro has been very good at desecrating sacred cows over the years).
To Megan, Grace, and Libby, I wish you the best, and demand nothing of you. And the same goes to those who are still members of Westboro Baptist Church. I have much harsher words, and feelings, for those Churches that commingle themselves with politics in an ugly way. I have much dislike for those who would seek to get close to Caesar and wield his sword in such a way that their Truth becomes not only their belief, but is enforced, even upon those who do not share it. I do not share Westboro's beliefs. Any of them. But they have never sought to impose those beliefs upon me, only to share them.