Delve into danger
KEYNOTE // A call to end closed-mindedness from a former Westboro Baptist Church member.
Megan Phelps-Roper has moved from zealotry to become an anti-extremism educator and her journey has made her question the polemic forces that dominate the zeitgeist. The ex Westboro Baptist Church member says “Listening is not agreeing. Empathy is not a betrayal of one’s cause. These are tools of effective persuasion.” And this is the essence of her timely message – a nourishing defence of civil discourse, open inquiry, and consideration for those who challenge our points of view.
Megan Phelps-Roper grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church: a group infamous for its intolerance. But dialogue on Twitter showed her another life was possible – and in 2012, she escaped her home, family, and faith. Now, with a popular TED Talk, a major New Yorker profile, and an upcoming memoir and film adaptation, she is a unique example of how empathy can overcome hate, and how tolerance can bridge ideology. As a keynote speaker and educator, she engages with schools, faith groups, law enforcement, and anti-extremism organisations on strengthening human bonds through better public discourse. She has been covered, most significantly, by The New Yorker, The Guardian, VICE, The Globe and Mail, NPR, and other international organisations.