A Death in Disgrace? Rumors Mount Westboro Baptist Church’s Fred Phelps Has Been Excommunicated, Near Death
The controversial head of Westboro Baptist Church is near death, according to a Facebook post by his estranged son. Fred Phelps, Sr. the author of the ‘God Hates Fags’ campaign and other hateful rhetoric, was reportedly at a Kansas hospice where his prospects, as of Saturday night, were dim.
Nate Phelps, one of the senior pastor’s estranged children, had mixed feelings about the news of his fathers likely passing.
“I’m not sure how I feel about this,” Nate wrote on his Facebook wall on Saturday. “Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.”
In an interview with Pantheos, Nate confirmed that his father was, in fact, dying and that his father’s death would not bring reunification for the family, which is torn between those in the church and those who have left.
“I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes,” Nate wrote on Facebook, adding that only church members were permitted to see Phelps in his final moments.
He also expressed regret about the harm his father and his family has done. “I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many,” he wrote.
It is unclear how the passing of founder Fred Phelps, Sr. will impact the Westboro group especially as rumors mount that the senior Phelps may have been out of favor and even excommunicated from the church he started during the past year.
Some speculate that Shirley Phelps-Roper, the outspoken mouthpiece of the church, is one likely successor for the church’s public campaigns. If given the helm, she would likely continue on the mission of hate started by her dad, as evidence by previous public statements about the church and its mission.
“Our job is laid out,” Phelps-Roper told NPR in 2012 about the plans for the church. “We are supposed to blind their eyes, stop up their ears and harden their hearts so that they cannot see, hear or understand, and be converted and receive salvation.”
Church spokesperson Steve Drain, however, said that the church does not have one defined leader, and stressed that during the past year many elders had taken leadership roles and preached.
“The church of Jesus Christ doesn’t have a head,” he said of the Westboro church group. “The Lord Jesus Christ is our head, for a very long time, we haven’t organized in the way you think.”
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