Fred Phelps is nearly dead, but as the Westboro Baptist Church founder lies on his death bed reports have emerged that church members voted to kick him out of the organization in the last year.
The controversial pastor is in hospice care in Topeka, Kansas, with unspecified health problems. While rumors have spread on the internet that Fred Phelps is dead, church officials have denied the reports.
But with conformed reports that the Westboro Baptist Church founder on his deathbed, his estranged son Nathan Phelps has leveled a strange twist in the case, saying that Fred Phelps was actually excommunicated last year.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, Nathan Phelps wrote:
“I’ve learned that my father, Fred Phelps, Sr., pastor of the ‘God Hates F**s’ 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 offered no more information why Phelps would have been excommunicated, but the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that after being voted out, Fred Phelps was moved out of the church where he had lived and placed into a home. There he was watched to ensure he did not harm himself, an estranged son told the newspaper.
When asked why Fred Phelps was excommunicated, a spokesman for the Westboro Baptist Church refused to comment.
“We don’t owe any talk to you about that,” said spokesman Steve Drain. “We don’t discuss our internal church dealings with anybody. It’s only because of his notoriety that you are asking.”
Though Fred’s daughter Shirley Roper Phelps has taken over as the church’s most visible spokesperson, for years Fred Phelps was the face of Westboro Baptist Church. It was Fred who brought the church national attention in 1998 when he led a protest at the funeral of Matthew Shepherd, a gay college student in Wyoming who was beaten to death.
Drain implied that Fred Phelps may not have had the leadership role that the general public assumed.
“For a very long time, we haven’t been organized in the way you think,” Drain said of the church having a defined leader.
Drain also shot down reports that Fred Phelps was nearly dead, saying that sources who have claimed he is near death are “not well informed.”