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So every time we find something else to picket, or have some new video or picture we want to post (or just something that we see on the news and want to comment about)—87 people get first-hand, gospel commentary from Megan Marie.”A couple of hours after Phelps-Roper posted her tweet on World Day, she checked her e-mail and discovered numerous automated messages notifying her of new Twitter followers.

Her tweet had been discovered by the comedian Michael Ian Black, who had more than a million followers.

“She had a well-sharpened tongue, so to speak,” Josh Phelps, one of Megan’s cousins and a former member of Westboro, told me.

In August, 2009, Phelps-Roper, under the handle @meganphelps, posted a celebratory tweet when Ted Kennedy died (“He defied God at every turn, teaching rebellion against His laws. ”) and a description of a picket that the church held at an American Idol concert in Kansas City (“Totally !

Westboro had long used the Internet to spread its message.

In 1994, the church launched a Web site, and early on it had a chat room where visitors could interact with members of Westboro.

She had been taught the church’s vision of God’s truth since birth.

Her grandfather Fred Phelps established the church, in 1955.

easy for Phelps-Roper to write things on Twitter that made other people cringe.

Since elementary school, she had given hundreds of interviews about Westboro, but the reaction on Twitter seemed more real than a quote in a newspaper. “I did not want to be the one to let it die,” she said.

“It’s not just like ‘Yes, all these people are seeing it,’ ” she told me. By the end of the day, Phelps-Roper had more than a thousand followers.

“It’s proof that people are seeing it and reacting to it.” Phelps-Roper spent much of the morning responding to angry tweets, citing Bible passages. She took the incident as an encouraging sign that Westboro’s message was well suited to social media.

“I think your plan is back-firing,” she taunted Black. She loved that Twitter let her talk to large numbers of people without the filter of a journalist.

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