With Fred Phelps excommunicated, many are speculating over who exactly is the new leader of the Westboro Baptist Church and what that might mean for the long term.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, it’s claimed that Fred Phelps is on his deathbed, but while WBC official Steve Drain confirmed that Phelps was admitted to Midland Hospice in Topeka Kansas they also denied he was about to die:
“I can tell you that Fred Phelps is having some health problems. He’s an old man, and old people get health problems.”
The only source we have for the WBC having Fred Phelps excommunicated is the word of his estranged son, who also is not in contact directly with his father:
“I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their goodbyes.”
Drain would only say that would not discuss internal church dealings with anyone so for the most part we are forced to speculate about what is really going on. The Westboro Baptist Church website does note that “membership issues are private” but a recent blog post does give us a hint on their leadership is structured:
“The church has no singular human leader — our head is the Lord Jesus Christ. The church currently has 8 male members who have been serving the church in the capacity of ‘elders’ for several years (this word is synonymous with ‘bishop,’ ‘pastor,’ and ‘overseer’) — all of whom minister to the members of the church, preach, and are involved in doctrine and teaching.”
The blog Patheos speculated that Fred Phelps’ daughter Shirley may be the leader as of now:
“My guess is that Fred Phelps, mostly due to his age (he’s 84), hasn’t been an integral part of the church’s activities for quite some time. Those responsibilities have long been delegated to other members of the church, mostly to daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper. But without the founding figurehead in place, we can at least hope Westboro becomes less relevant and eventually obsolete.”
Lauren Drain, a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, also wrote on Facebook yesterday explaining what it means to be excommunicated:
“If the rumors are true regarding Fred Phelps, & I have strong reason to believe that they are — this news to me is incredibly devastating. When I was back in the church 8 years ago, I witnessed various members get ex-communicated & watched in horror & fear as families were ripped apart at the seams…. I hope & pray that change can & will be the result of so many years of heartache & confusion. I pray that Pastor Phelps has a change of heart even if it is his last days. I pray that the remaining family members see what generations of judgment & banishment can do.”
If Fred Phelps dies, some have suggested that the Westboro Baptist Church should picket his funeral. Others have suggested praying that the rest of the people in the cult leave and give up their hateful task. What do you think is the best way to react to this news?