Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Sr. ‘on the edge of death’
The anti-gay Kansas preacher who courted notoriety by picketing the funerals of gays and U.S. soldiers is living out his last days in a hospice care facility near his Topeka church. Steve Drain, a Westboro spokesman, confirmed Sunday that Phelps is in ill health.
No one’s going to protest against this guy’s death.
Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Sr. has been admitted to a hospice facility and is “on the edge of death,” his estranged son revealed.The 84-year-old preacher established the small Kansas church in 1955 and made it a household name by picketing funerals, public events and businesses with hateful signs attacking gay people, Jews and others.
Pastor Fred Phelps Sr. outside the Albany County Courthouse in Laramie, Wyo., on April 5, 1999, where one of the defendants in the beating murder of Matthew Shepard will stand trial.
“I’ve learned that my father, Fred Phelps Sr., pastor of the ‘God Hates F–s’ Westboro Baptist Church … is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice in Topeka, Kansas,” son Nathan Phelps wrote on Facebook.
Steve Drain, a Westboro spokesman, confirmed Sunday that Phelps is in ill health.
“I can tell you that Fred Phelps is having some health problems,” Drain said. “He’s an old man and old people get health problems.”
Anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps Sr., shown in 2006 at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., is clinging to life in a Shawnee County care facility.
In his Facebook post, Nathan Phelps, who left the church 37 years ago, said Westboro excommunicated his father in August.
Drain declined to comment on whether Phelps has been voted out of the church he established.
Westboro Baptist Church member Jacob Phelps of Topeka, Kan., holds a signs on Oct. 6, 2010, in front of the Supreme Court in Washington as the court heard arguments in the dispute between Albert Snyder of York, Pa., and members of the Westboro Baptist Church.
“I’m not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made,” Nathan Phelps wrote in the post, which had been shared more than 1,000 times as of Sunday night.
“I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved.”
Westboro members frequently protest at the funerals of American soldiers with signs bearing messages like “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “Thank God for 9/11,” claiming the deaths are divine punishment for the country’s tolerance of homosexuality.
Two same-sex couples kiss in front of Westboro Baptist Church protesters, on Mar. 27, 2013, at the U.S. Supreme Court.
They first attracted widespread attention by picketing the 1998 funeral of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming college student tortured and killed in an anti-gay attack.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights nonprofit organization, has described Westboro as a hate group, and some people reacted to Nathan Phelps’ Facebook post with glee.
Protesters from Rev. Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church demonstrate on June 6, 2009, during funeral services for Dr. George Tiller at College Hill United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kan.