Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps is now on the verge of death at a hospice in Kansas, but new reports have surfaced that he was excommunicated from the church he created by his own family. The 84-year-old preacher, known for picketing the funerals of dead American soldiers while carrying signs with messages including “God Hates F*gs,” was reportedly thrown out of the church last August. The Topeka-Capital Journal reported that he was banished from his church for “advocating a kinder approach between church members.”
New rumors also surfaced that Westboro members planned to picket his funeral. Church member Margie Phelps had a tweet on her page last Sunday which read, “My dad Pastor Fred Phelps is a hell bound f*g enabling whore. #Westboro Baptist Church to protest this whores Funeral.” But while the account @MargieJPhelps had belonged to the daughter of the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. at one time, the tweets about WBC picketing its founder’s funeral were apparently created by an impostor known as @grampscramps.
It also appears that Phelps will not have a funeral when he dies; Margie tweeted last year that “we don’t worship the dead in this church, so there’d be no public memorial or funeral to picket if any member died.” Church spokesman Steve Drain also declined to comment any further, telling local reporters that “we don’t owe any talk to you about that. We don’t discuss our internal church dealings with anybody. It’s only because of his notoriety that you are asking.”
Phelps started the Westboro Baptist Church in 1955, but his hateful attacks against gays didn’t begin until the early 1990s. The church first attracted international attention while protesting the 1998 funeral of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in Wyoming simply because he’s gay, by carrying signs including “AIDS Kills F*gs.” They have also claimed that the death of American soldiers and tragedies such as 9/11 are punishment for the country’s tolerance of homosexuality.
Because of their ongoing activity, a federal law was created limiting protests at funerals for soldiers and many states now require that the church picket several hundred feet from the funeral.