"If you see a nation or a people who have risen up with one voice to say that it's OK to be gay, you're looking at a doomed people. Those people have crossed the line. When you say "gay pride," you obviously have given over any trace or any notion that you're going to admit that you're sinning". - Shirley Phelps-Roper.
Shirley Lynn Phelps-Roper (born October 31, 1957), is an American lawyer who is a member of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. She is the daughter of the equally notorious Fred Phelps Sr., the church's founder and pastor. Shirley is one of the church's most well-known figures besides her father, and is a spokesperson for the church as well. She has appeared on many news programs and documentaries, where she has been the target of criticism for her parenting methods and religious beliefs.
Shirley Lynn Phelps-Roper was born on October 31, 1957, in Topeka, Kansas, to Fred Phelps, an attorney and pastor of the then unknown Westboro Baptist Church, and his wife Margie. Shirley was the fifth of thirteen children, and she, according to her four estranged siblings, was abused along with the rest of the family by her father. Phelps- Roper and her siblings who stayed in the church all deny these claims. Like her father, Shirley attended Washburn University, where she recived a degree in law.
In 1979, Shirley had her first child, Sam out of wedlock. The father, whose name she refuses to tell, got her pregnant while she was working at a halfway house. According to the Bible, getting pregnant out of wedlock is a sin. However, Shirley managed to stay in the WBC since she repented of her sins. In 1983, Shirley married Brent Roper, and the two would go to have ten more children. Three of her children, Joshua, Megan, Zacharias and Grace, are currently estranged from the family and church.
In 1991, the WBC began its anti-gay picketing. Shirley, of course was one of the more prominent picketers. By the mid 2000's, when the church started protesting soldiers' funerals, Shirley began running many of the church's day to day operations, such as planning pickets, and running the family law office. In 2007, Phelps-Roper was arrested in Nebraska for letting her ten-year-old son step on an American flag. The charges against her were later dropped, as she planned of suing the county in which she was arrested in.
When the church was sued in 2006 by Albert Synder, whose son's funeral was picketed by the church, Shirley became heavily involved in the case. The church won the case after it was brought to the Supreme Court, and the WBC continued with its activites. Shirley still remains in the church, being one of the most loyal members of it, and always seen protesting with the fellow members of the curch, including her young children.
At some point in 2013, Phelps-Roper became entangled in a bitter power struggle between herself and the other elders of Westboro, headed by Steve Drain. In the end, she was all but removed from the workings of the church and her father excommunicated when he attempted to intervene. It is unknown what will come of the church without the Phelps' influence, particularly in the wake of Fred Sr.'s death.