Fred Phelps: Controversial Pastor Said 'Near Death'

Pam WrightLife

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The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., 84, the controversial former pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church, known for his military and anti-gay sentiments, is in a care facility and near death.

The son of the former pastor, Nathan Phelps, posted about his father on his Facebook page Saturday.

"He is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice in Topeka," said Nathan Phelps, who left the church several years ago.

"I can tell you that Fred Phelps is having some health problems," said church spokesman Steve Drain. "He's an old man and old people get health problems."

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, Kansas, are known to protest at funerals of soldiers carrying signs that say, "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "Thank God for 9/11."

They claim the deaths are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

Westboro Baptist is a small church mostly comprised of Phelps' extended family.

Last summer, Phelps was voted out of Westboro Baptist Church and moved out of the church and into a house, where he was watched to ensure he wouldn’t harm himself.

He eventually stopped eating and drinking.

Nate Phelps' Facebook page confirmed the excommunication and his imminent death.

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the church and its members couldn't be sued for inflicting pain on grieving military families under the First Amendment, protecting free speech.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups in the United States, says on its website that Westboro "is arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America. The group is basically a family-based cult of personality built around its patriarch, Fred Phelps."

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Pam Wright