Former Westboro Baptist Church member aims to raise support for fellow defectors

Kansas City StarJuly 11, 2013 

With an increasing number of young members choosing to walk away from Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church, one former member is attempting to provide a support system for the recently departed.

Lauren Drain, a onetime church member who joined when her parents moved the family from Florida to Topeka, recently launched a fundraiser through the website gofundme to help former members adjust to life after the church.

“In the past 10 years, some 19 members have been able to escape the clutches of the WBC,” Drain writes. “Many have struggled to find their way and start from near scratch. Oftentimes the ‘church’ or family leaves the defector with little to no personal possessions and those who are able to plan an escape usually leave quickly with the bare minimums.”

The money, according to the website, will go toward “housing, living essentials, educational needs (and) travel to reconnect with lost family.”

For the past decade, the anti-gay, anti-military church has been hemorrhaging young members. In a 2011 story, The Star reported that 20 members had left the WBC since 2004, three-fourths of them in their teens or 20s.

Since then, at least two others have left, including Megan Phelps-Roper, the granddaughter of church pastor Fred Phelps who appeared poised to have a significant role in the group’s future.

As of Thursday morning, the online fundraiser had raised $1,415, with an overall goal of $20,000.

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