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K-State Today Student Edition

February 26, 2018

Former member of Westboro Baptist Church to share message of empathy and tolerance

By Hannah Ens

Ideological divisions can seem insurmountable at times, but as a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church will attest, empathy and civil discourse can be a powerful force. Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of the infamous church's founder, Fred Phelps, will speak on countering hate with empathy and tolerance at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, in the K-State Student Union Ballroom.

Phelps-Roper grew up entrenched in the Westboro Baptist Church's hateful rhetoric. However, as she took on responsibility for the official Twitter account, she began to encounter calm, civil individuals online who met her messaging with genuine empathy. Her dogmatic convictions began to waver, and she and her sister renounced the church in 2012. She is now an advocate for using empathy and civil discourse to overcome hate and intolerance.

UPC forums co-chair Michael Tiede believes this presentation comes at a critical moment.

"Given the polarization on a number of political and social issues, I believe Megan's presentation is a great opportunity for K-State students, faculty, and members of the community to learn and be inspired to create change through empathy and civil discourse. Also, due to the proximity of the Westboro Baptist Church, I think the people of Manhattan would be inherently interested in this event," Tiede said. 

This event is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by Union Program Council. For more information, visit kstateupc.com or call 785-532-6571.