Report: Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist Church, near death

Fred Phelps
Fred Phelps

TOPEKA, Kan. — Anti-gay extremist Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church and the “Gods Hate Fags” fundamentalist movement, is near death in a local hospice, according to a Facebook post Saturday night by his son Nathan Phelps.

The younger Phelps, who left the church and his family’s compound in 1976 when he was 18-years-old, writes:

“I’ve learned that my father, Fred Phelps, Sr., pastor of the “God Hates Fags” Westboro Baptist Church, was ex-communicated from the “church” back in August of 2013. He is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.

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. And I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.”

Nathan Phelps noted that he is “not clear” as to why his father was ex-communicated. “I only have hearsay on the reason, and two different versions, so I won’t comment at this point other than to say he was moved into another house and watched over so he wouldn’t harm himself.”

Fred Phelps, 84, founded the Westboro church in 1955, but it has been involved in actions against gays since at least 1991, when it sought a crackdown on homosexual activity at a local park six blocks from the church.

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The group came into the national spotlight in 1998, when it picketed at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured near Laramie, Wyo., in October 1998, then tied to a fence and left to die.

In 2011, the church stated that it had about 40 members.

Nathan Phelps was the seventh of 13 children and grandchildren who left the Westboro church, which is largely made up of Phelps’ family members.

He is a vocal LGBT advocate, and speaks out against the dangers of religion and child abuse.

The Westboro church has made no public acknowledgement of Fred Phelps’ current condition.

Developing story, check back for updates.

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