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Shirley Phelps-Roper

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Shirley Phelps-Roper
Westboro shirley phelps.jpg
Phelps-Roper in September 2007
Shirley Lynn Phelps

(1957-10-31) October 31, 1957 (age 63)
Spouse(s)Brent Roper
Children11, including Megan
Parent(s)Fred Phelps
Margie Marie Simms
RelativesNathan Phelps (brother)

Shirley Lynn Phelps-Roper (born October 31, 1957) is an American lawyer and political activist. She was the lead spokesperson of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, an organization that protests against homosexuality conducted under the slogan "God Hates Fags" until a power struggle within the organization reduced her status as a spokesperson.[1]

Early life

Shirley Phelps was born October 31, 1957 in Topeka, Kansas.[2] She is the daughter of Margie Marie (Simms) and pastor Fred Phelps, minister of the Westboro Baptist Church, an independent church characterized as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.[3][4][5]


Phelps-Roper practices law for Phelps-Chartered Co., the Phelps family's law firm established by her father in 1964.[6] According to her firm's web page, she has been licensed to practice in Kansas and federal courts.[7]

Besides her father Fred, Shirley Phelps-Roper was the most active spokesperson of the Westboro Baptist Church and answered many of the e-mails sent to the church in a column called "Dear Shirley.[8] She and other family members have become known for picketing at funerals of AIDS victims with signs such as "God hates fags" and at funeral processions for American soldiers killed in combat.[9][10]

Phelps-Roper protesting in Chicago in 2009.

By 2014 Phelps-Roper's duties as spokesperson for the Westboro Church had been reduced after a power struggle within the church, and her authority transferred to an all-male board of elders.[11][12]

Legal issues

Phelps-Roper was arrested on June 5, 2007, on suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Police alleged that she allowed her son to trample an American flag while protesting the funeral of a soldier in Bellevue, Nebraska, which is a misdemeanor in the state.[13] Phelps-Roper announced her intent to challenge the constitutionality of the Nebraska statute. The charges against her were dropped when she agreed to dismiss pending lawsuits filed against Sarpy County in state and federal court.[14][15][16]

Phelps-Roper was named a defendant in the Supreme Court case Snyder v. Phelps. She has been placed on the list of individuals banned from entering the United Kingdom for "fostering extremism or hatred."[9]

Personal life

Phelps-Roper is married to Brent D. Roper and they have 11 children. Four of her children, notably Megan Phelps-Roper, have left the church.[17][18]

In a 2007 Channel 4 documentary featuring Welsh personality Keith Allen, Phelps-Roper said on camera that her oldest son Samuel was born out of wedlock. When asked if she would go to hell for her actions, Phelps-Roper explained that "I know better" and had "put away" such behavior.[19][20]


  1. ^ Fry, Steve (2014-03-17). "Elders excommunicate Phelps after power struggle, call for kindness within church". Topeka Capital-Journal. Mark E. Nusbaum. Retrieved 2014-03-23. Drain as church spokesman marked a shift from Shirley Phelps-Roper, the former longtime church spokeswoman, who was clearly a leader and an influence in the church.
  2. ^ *Kendall, Justin (November 2, 2006). "The New Fred: Shirley Phelps-Roper is just like her notorious father — except in one crucial way". Retrieved September 9, 2010.
  3. ^ Anti-Defamation League (2006). "Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church". Retrieved 2007-02-23.
  4. ^ Southern Poverty Law Center " The Year in Hate:2005". Accessed 5 October 2006.
  5. ^ Southern Poverty Law Center. Active U.S. Hate Groups in 2005. Accessed 5 October 2006.
  6. ^ "Firm History," Archived 2004-01-21 at Retrieved September 9, 2010.
  7. ^ "Attorney profiles", Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  8. ^ Dear Shirley. Archived December 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ a b ""UK 'least wanted' list published"". BBC News. 2009-05-05. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  10. ^ ""The Most Hated Family in America" March 30, 2007". BBC News. 2007-03-30. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  11. ^ Fry, Steve (March 17, 2014). "Elders excommunicate Phelps after power struggle, call for kindness within church". The Topeka Capital-Journal.
  12. ^ Greenberg, Brad A. (March 18, 2014). "Did Westboro Baptist excommunicate Fred Phelps for being too kind?". The Jewish Journal.
  13. ^ ""Phelps-Roper Arrested in Nebraska";". Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  14. ^ "Funeral protester faces charges after child stomps on flag".
  15. ^ ""Charges against Phelps-Roper in Nebraska protest dropped" The Associated Press, August 23, 2010". Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  16. ^ ""Charges To Be Dismissed Against Phelps-Roper Funeral Protester Will Drop Lawsuits In Exchange For Dismissal" August 23, 2010". 2010-08-23. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  17. ^ Chen, Adrian (November 16, 2015). "Unfollow: How a prized daughter of the Westboro Baptist Church came to question its beliefs". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  18. ^ "Westboro Church, famous for hate, loses two key members". USA Today. February 8, 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  19. ^ Allen, Keith (Director) (2007). Keith Allen Will Burn In Hell (Television documentary). UK: Channel 4 Television Corporation.
  20. ^ Keith Allen will Burn in Hell At 33:29: Allen: "Is he (name) the illegitimate son?" Phelps-Roper: "He's my son." Allen: "Is he the illegitimate son?" Phelps-Roper: "Yes." Allen: "Are you going to hell?" Phelps-Roper: "If the lord Jesus Christ did not die on that cross for me, for my sins, I am going to hell." Allen: "Are you going to hell because you had a child out of wedlock?" Phelps-Roper: "That would not be the reason."

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