TODAY | February 06, 2013
>>> we have a rare look inside what may be the most controversial church . andrea canning has a story about a girl that grew up in the church before escaping.
>> into the midwestern church known for its hatred of jews and gays and its infamous protest of military funerals. they say following god's will. for 25 years, she says, her every move was scrutinized by the tight-run church by her family until one thing changed everything. it's the church best known for its perceived hatred with hurtful protests at events many consider to be sacred.
>> they think they're the only ones that are going to go to heaven and if you don't go to that church you're going to go hell.
>> reporter: libby feltz alvarez was born into the church . her grandfather founded the church that some believe is more cult than congregation. do you think you were brainwashed, looking back?
>> i think i was almost brainwashed into thinking i wasn't brainwashed.
>> reporter: the members say they are true believers in god, but their messages target gays and jews, even children. the church posted this tweet last year. westboro will picket sandy hook elementary school to sing praise to god for the glory of his work in executing his judgment. from the time she turned 8, alvarez would protest funerals around the country. in 2011 , the u.s. supreme court ruled the protests are protected by the constitution. why protest military funerals?
>> they think that they're fighting for a nation.
>> reporter: at what point did you finally start to think, this is wrong, what i believe in, what i've been doing?
>> i had a friend, her husband was in the military and he died. and we picketed his funeral. i wasn't there, but my family was there. and i didn't think that it was right. there was a point where we start praying for people to die. and i didn't actually do that, but i was around when they did it.
>> reporter: four years ago, she said she packed up her life and quickly left, while her parents were at a protest.
>> i was terrified. i was never going to see my family again.
>> reporter: that must have been the hardest thing you've ever done in your life. how did you break the news to your parents and the church ?
>> i didn't.
>> reporter: have they tried to reach out to you in any way?
>> my aunt e-mailed me and said nobody wants to talk to me anymore.
>> reporter: alvarez still has regrets for hurting people, but is embracing her new life with open arms .
>> i've done so many things that i couldn't do. i've traveled to different countries. i got married.
>> reporter: you got your first haircut ever?
>> i got my ears pierced. i didn't think i would ever do that.
>> reporter: do you hope that other family members have the courage to leave? what would you say to them?
>> i would tell them that i love them and that people aren't evil like we were taught. even though i'm crying right now, life isn't full of sadness, sorrow, disease and heartache like they told us. you can lead a happy and good life.
>> reporter: a life that she says for the first time has brought her peace and independence. libby lives just 35 miles from the church but says she still hasn't spoken to her parents for all these years. she's now sampling different churches in her new world but hasn't settled on one yet. we reached out to westboro baptist and they haven't responded to our requests. this church says they believe they're saving people with their views.
>> it's a perfect spespective we don't often get to here.