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

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.