March 16, 2014 2:00 pm
Updated: March 20, 2014 11:10 am

Anti-gay pastor Fred Phelps on ‘edge of death': son

In this March 19, 2006 file photo, Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. preaches at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Phelps, who founded a Kansas church that’s widely known for its protests at military funerals and anti-gay sentiments, is being cared for in a Shawnee County facility according to Westboro Baptist Church spokesman Steve Drain on Sunday, March 16, 2014.

Charlie Riedel, File/AP Photo

Fred Phelps Sr., the founding pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church, is dying in a Kansas hospice, according to one of his sons.

The Topeka, Ka.-based Westboro Baptist Church “preaches against all forms of sin,” but with a particular focus on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Story continues below
Global News

Phelps Sr.’s estranged son Nathan Phelps, who now lives near Calgary, said in a Facebook post on Saturday the patriarch is “now on the edge of death.”

He also said his 84-year-old father was “ex-communicated from the ‘church'” last August.

“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,” Phelps wrote.

According to the post, his father is in the care of Midland Hospice House in Topeka.

No one from Midland Hospice was available for comment on Sunday. But Westboro Baptist Church spokesperson Steve Drain confirmed to The Associated Press Phelps Sr. is being cared for in a Shawnee County facility.

“I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many,” Phelps’ Facebook post read. “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.”

Global News reached out to Phelps to obtain a comment on his post, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Phelps, the sixth oldest of 13 children, has been estranged from his father for years and moved to Canada as an adult, he told Salon in 2012.

He told Salon about the abuse he said he endured as a child at the hands of his father, which Phelps said was his father justified by using verses out of the Bible.

He left the family and moved to California in 1981, later moving to Vancouver and then Calgary.

Phelps works as an advocate for LGBT rights.

Phelps Sr. and his followers have become notorious for holding protests at funerals of LGBT people, particularly those who have died as a result of hate crimes.

Most notably, the group picketed the 1998 funeral of Matthew Shepard – a gay Laramie, Wy. man who died five days after he was abducted, beaten, pistol-whipped and left tied to a fence for 18 hours in frigid temperatures.

Rev. Fred Phelps, from Westboro Baptist Church, protests the meeting between the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Rev. Mel White in Lynchburg, Va., on Saturday, Oct. 23, 1999.

Doug Koonts, New and Advance/AP Photo, File

Phelps Sr. and his Westboro Baptist Church followers have also protested outside funerals and commemorations for fallen U.S. soldiers, claiming they died as a result of God’s punishment for U.S. policies supporting gay rights.

The group is also not a fan of Canada, which it refers to as “fag friendly” on its website.

In 2008, the Canadian government blocked members of the church from entering the country to protest the funeral for 22-year-old Tim McLean, who was decapitated on a Greyhound bus on July 30 of that year.

Phelps Sr., who founded the Westboro Baptist Church in 1955, attended the Prairie Bible Institute, located in Three Hills, Alta., his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper confirmed.

She said her father attended the evangelical institution in 1949 and 1950, according to an article posted on the Vancouver Sun website in Sept. 2013.

Global News made several email, phone and social media requests to Phelps Sr.’s family and the Westboro Baptist Church to comment on his health and his status within the organization, but none of the requests were responded to in time for publication.

A message on Westboro’s voice mail said, “If you are calling about gay rights, yikes! God hates fags. God hates fag enablers. Therefore God hates you.”

Based on tweets from the Westboro Baptist Church’s Twitter account, which was very active on Sunday, its supporters were protesting against LGBT rights outside a church in Roseland Park, Ka., while other tweets called out South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers for not allowing them to be a part of this year’s procession.

READ MORE: Sam Adams pulls out of St. Patrick’s parade over exclusion of gay groups

With a file from The Associated Press

© Shaw Media, 2014

Report an error