Louis Theroux announces ex-Westboro Church member as special guest for NZ show

Louis Theroux's New Zealand stage show will feature a special guest who was once part of a group that condemned him to hell on camera. 

The documentary maker will be joined by Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church and one of the subjects of his BBC series. 

Theroux met Phelps-Roper during filming for his 2007 programme The Most Hated Family in America, where he followed the Kansas-based group known for picketing the funerals of US soldiers. 

The group allowed Theroux inside their world but refused to accept him, maintaining their belief he had been "raised for the devil" along with anyone else outside of their sect. 

Phelps-Roper appeared on-camera alongside her family members holding placards with shocking anti-Semitic and homophobic statements. She escaped the church in 2012, and has since overhauled her beliefs. 

"When I first met Megan she was a committed member of a fire-and-brimstone homophobic hate group," Theroux said in a statement.

"Now she is leading an entirely new life as a thinker and writer of great sensitivity and insight, bringing a message of empathy and intelligent engagement with those we disagree with." 

Theroux went on to make two more documentaries on the Phelps family, The Most Hated Family in America in Crisis in 2011, and Surviving America's Most Hated Family in 2019. 

Phelps-Roper, now an activist and speaker who lobbies to overcome divisions between religious and political divides, said it was "a great honour" to join Theroux's tour. 

"I can’t wait to share the journey that transformed me from a hardcore Westboro follower, longing for the destruction of the world, to a believer in hope and humanity," she said. 

Phelps-Roper is the granddaughter of Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, who died in 2014. The widely decried hate group remains active and continues to hold offensive demonstrations around the US. 

Theroux's stage show, Louis Theroux Without Limits will come to Auckland for one night only on January 10 2020. 


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