The son of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Sr. says his father – a widely despised figure for his organization’s hate-message picketing of military personnel and celebrities – is “on the edge of death.”
According to CBS News on March 16, Fred Phelp’s son Nathan Phelps issued a statement on his Facebook page, saying the senior Phelps, whom he has been estranged from for three decades, was “dying in hospice care” in Topeka, Kansas. Nathan said that his father had been ex-communicated from his own church in August of 2013.
Phelps Sr., an ordained minister, started the Westboro Baptist Church in 1955. In recent years, the church has come under extreme scrutiny for their picketing of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their outspoken, “God Hates Fags” messages against the gay community.
Nathan was candid about his feelings in the Facebook post:
I'm not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.
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. And I'm bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.
Phelps Sr. was not always identified by his extreme positions and his organization’s ill-timed arrogance of picketing funerals with “messages from God.” The elder Phelps was once an award winning civil rights attorney before he found himself disbarred from the Kansas Supreme Court in 1979 and later was censured and lost his right to practice law in federal court.
The group connects war deaths with God’s disapproval of individuals who refusals to reject gays. Their boorish placards offend with phrases like “Thank God for IEDs,” “Fag soldier in Hell” and “Soldiers die 4 fag marriage.”
Westboro Church Spokesman Steve Drain declined to identify the facility where Phelps was receiving care or what his condition may be. He appeared to minimize Nathan's report that he is on the verge of death.
"I can tell you that Fred Phelps is having some health problems," Drain said. "He's an old man, and old people get health problems."