Fred Phelps, founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church whose goal was to bring prominence to the church by protesting fallen military funerals with their “God Hates Fags” message, has died, according to son Tim Phelps.
Phelps, 84, had been in hospice in a Shawnee County facility. The Topeka, KS based church was widely known for protesting high profile funerals, holding signs that say “Thank God For 9/11” and “Pray For More Dead Soldiers.” Their belief was that God intended for these people to die as punishment for immorality by Americans because of our laws or support of abortion, LGBT rights, and other issues.
Fred Phelps had been in poor health, as recent reports indicate. The church even excommunicated him so that another person can run the church. The name of his successor has yet to be released. The church is typically tight lipped regarding their inner dealings.
Across the internet, there is no love lost for Fred Phelps. Most view him as a bigot and/or homophobic. A blog by the Washington Post editorializes the passing of Fred Phelps as one with “dry eyes”. Further stating,
While my condolences are always with those who have lost a loved one, now that Fred Phelps is dead, may we all live in peace.
No funeral arrangements have been announced by the Westboro Baptist Church. The public should not expect to see any.
The Fred Phelps led church came into the spotlight in 1998, garnering national attention from CNN for picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. Shepard was beaten to death by 2 men allegedly because of his homosexuality. Since then, Westboro Baptist Church has picketed numerous funerals of US soldiers, celebrities such as Ronnie James Dio, and news headliners such as Christina Green in 2011. Christina Green, a 9 year old little girl, was shot and killed in Tuscon, Arizona. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was also shot, non-fatally.
The Westboro Baptist Church also released many tweets and press releases regarding catastrophic events, praising God for these events. Tragic events such as the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, Hurricane Sandy and the Moore, OK tornado have all be praised in the name of God.
We will soon see where the Westboro Baptist Church will go without the influence of Rev. Fred Phelps