Founder of Westboro church in Kansas excommunicated, on death bed: son

Steve Drain and the Westboro Baptist Church protest across the street from Ground Zero July 4, 2004 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images
The Westboro Baptist Church is known for unpopular protests, such as this one near Ground Zero on July 4, 2004, in New York City.
Credit: Getty Images

The founder of a fundamentalist church known for picketing military funerals and political events with anti-gay signs was excommunicated last year and is near death in a Kansas hospital, his son said on social media Sunday.

Fred Waldron Phelps Sr., who launched the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church in the 1950s, “is on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house,” his son, Nathan Phelps, wrote on his Facebook page.

The younger Phelps, one of several members of the family to have parted ways with the church, also said his father was excommunicated by his own church last August, but did not say for what reason.

“I’m not sure how I feel about this,” he said. “Terribly ironic that his devotion to his God ends this way — destroyed by the monster he made.”

The Westboro Baptist Church did not respond Sunday to an email seeking confirmation that Fred Phelps had been excommunicated.

Phelps had long been pastor of the church, which is best known for carrying anti-gay signs and picketing events including military funerals, gay rights rallies, political gatherings and mainstream Christian events.

The protests reflect the Westboro church’s view that God is punishing America for tolerance of gays and lesbians.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, has called the church “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.”

Though the church has been sued in the past, it has successfully defended its right to free speech in court.

Nathan Phelps and some other members of the family have left the Westboro group in recent years. He has spoken out on behalf of gay and lesbian groups.

In his Facebook post, he said family members who had parted ways with the church were not allowed to visit Fred Phelps in hospice.

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



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

GAMES Hudson Common Open Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Hudson Common 356 W. 58 St. Free, www.hudsoncommonnyc.com The U.S. Open begins on Monday, but most of…

Movies

Review: Sadly, Matthew Weiner's 'Are You Here' is…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner tries his hand at movies with "Are You Here," a misjudged Owen Wilson-Zach Galifianakis comedy that turns into a drama.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…