Westboro Baptist Church’s founder's 84-year-old founder Fred Phelps Sr., who made headlines by outraging the nation as he picketed against gays at military funerals, is dead. The Westboro Baptist Church's infamous founder Fred Phelps died on March 19 in a hospice facility in Topeka, Kansas, according to a Washington Post report on Thursday.
Fred Phelps was an ordained Baptist minister and the leader of what has been referred to as the most-hated family in America. His congregation in Kansas was called a “family-based cult” and “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.” Yet, Phelps’ church was reportedly protected by the United States Supreme Court due to free speech.
The Westboro Baptist Church had members primarily from Phelps’ family and extended-family. He believed that gays were the cause of the fall of America, and thereby, his protests were anti-gay as well as anti-Semitic.
Among Phelps’ most noted protests, his church was present to protest at the funerals of such persons as Sen. Barry Goldwater, Coretta Scott King, Frank Sinatra and Fred Rogers.
Phelps was born on Nov. 13, 1929 in Meridian Mississippi. He was ordained as a Baptist minister at the age of 17. However, the Westboro Baptist Church does not have any official connection to Baptist churches.