Two granddaughters of Fred Phelps have fled the anti-gay church he helms.

The Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church has said its members protest the funerals of fallen American soldiers because they were protecting a nation which supports homosexuality.

In an online statement, Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper said they have left the church and apologized for the pain they inflicted.

“We know that we've done and said things that hurt people,” they wrote. “Inflicting pain on others wasn't the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren't so, and regret that hurt.”

“We know that we dearly love our family. They now consider us betrayers, and we are cut off from their lives, but we know they are well-intentioned. We will never not love them.”

“We know that we can't undo our whole lives. We can't even say we'd want to if we could; we are who we are because of all the experiences that brought us to this point. What we can do is try to find a better way to live from here on. That's our focus.”

“Up until now, our names have been synonymous with 'God Hates Fags.' Any twelve-year-old with a cell phone could find out what we did. We hope Ms. Kyle was right about the other part, too, though – that everything sticks – and that the changes we make in our lives will speak for themselves.”

Megan told Fast Company editor Jeff Chu that she left the church in November and recounted the moment she started questioning the church's dogma.

“My doubts started with a conversation I had with David Abitbol,” she said, referring to a member of the blog Jewlicious, on Twitter.

“I would ask him questions about Judaism, and he would ask me questions about church doctrine. One day, he asked a specific question about one of our signs – 'Death Penalty for Fags' – and I was arguing for the church's position, that it was a Levitical punishment and as completely appropriate now as it was then. He said, 'But Jesus said' – and I thought it was funny he was quoting Jesus – 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.' And then he connected it to another member of the church who had done something that, according to the Old Testament, was also punishable by death. I realized that if the death penalty was instituted for any sin, you completely cut off the opportunity to repent. And that's what Jesus was talking about.”

At least two other family members have fled the church. Libby Phelps Alvarez, a granddaughter, broke away four years ago. And Nate Phelps, one of Fred Phelps' 12 children, drove away on his 18th birthday and now lives in Canada.