Westboro Baptist Church’s Fred Phelps Dead at 84

PIC: Rudolf 1922 (PD)

PIC: Rudolf 1922 (PD)

Pastor and founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church has assumed room temperature. It’ll be interesting to see how the “church” proceeds from here. One of the biggest question will be who will take over pastoral duties. Fred’s daughter, attorney and church member Shirley Phelps-Roper ,has been one of the most prominent faces of the church over the last several years, but I doubt that the church, which describes itself as “Primitive Baptist,” will accept a woman as pastor.

According to the Topeka Capital-Journal media calls to the church are either going to voice mail or being hung up on by members. Guess they’re not as vocal when one of their own dies. I wonder if they’ll picket Fred’s funeral, Given rumors that he had been excommunicated from the church prior to his death.

As a personal aside, in December of last year, I  had contacted the church to arrange an interview with Fred on behalf of a media colleague. Even then, there were rumors that Fred was in poor health and very close to death. Church spokesman Steve Drain had denied those rumors in an email, stating that Phelps was in good health for a man of his age and just didn’t want to do interviews anymore. Needless to say, there wasn’t any mention of the excommunication.

Drain has an interesting, if not incomprehensible story. He was a philosophy grad student when he first learned about the church. Initially he had set out to film a documentary about the church titled Hatemongers, but was drawn in and became a member. In an interview with VICE, Drain admitted that he’s actually a fan of some of the bands that the church protests, among them Radiohead. This kind of contradiciton doesn’t seem to bother Drain – at least not enough to leave the church. Neither was losing his daughter. I’m curious if Drain, or any other members of the church, will take Fred’s death as an opportunity to leave.

Via the Washington Post:

Fred Phelps Sr., a fire-and-brimstone preacher whose anti-gay picketing at military funerals inflamed the nation and drew international scorn but was protected by the U.S. Supreme Court as an exercise in free speech, died March 19 at a hospice in Topeka, Kan. He was 84.

His daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper confirmed his death to the Topeka Capital-Journal. The cause was not reported.

Rev. Phelps was an ordained Baptist minister, a disbarred Kansas lawyer and, according to a BBC documentary, the patriarch of the “most hated family in America.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a prominent civil rights group, described his Westboro congregation as a “family-based cult” and “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.”

The expression of Rev. Phelps’s bigotry managed to offend the conscience of the Ku Klux Klan, which staged protests to counter Westboro’s demonstrations at military funerals.

The church’s following consisted mainly of the extended Phelps family and assorted outsiders who shared the founder’s view of an unforgiving, vengeful God poised to destroy a nation of sinners. Rev. Phelps dispatched followers to parks and street corners with anti-gay and anti-Semitic placards, some wielded by his grandchildren as young as 7.

Keep reading at The Washington Post.


41 Comments on "Westboro Baptist Church’s Fred Phelps Dead at 84"

  1. Anarchy Pony | Mar 20, 2014 at 2:14 pm |

    Ding dong the bitch is dead!

  2. Mick-Doscious | Mar 20, 2014 at 2:14 pm |

    He now resides only in everyones memories and only as a vile and bitter human being. I hope he experienced his own personal hell before he ceased to exist.

  3. New Monkey | Mar 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm |

    This post has been left intentionally blank.

  4. PrimateZero | Mar 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm |

    Phelps is dead, so it goes…. now I wonder what I’ll have for dinner?

  5. Allegedly he was excommunicated for preaching “kindness” after his daughter was ousted by a group of male “elders.” http://m.cjonline.com/news/2014-03-17/elders-excommunicate-phelps-after-power-struggle-call-kindness-within-church

    And he may have become the way he was because he was raped while serving at West Point. http://www.examiner.com/article/westboro-baptist-church-was-fred-phelps-raped-by-a-man

    Let’s hope everyone gets out before the WBC goes Jonestown.

    • Anarchy Pony | Mar 20, 2014 at 3:48 pm |

      If god hates gays so much, why did he invent the option? For an all powerful being he’s not very proactive. Except when he sends the tornadoes and such to punish us tolerating the gays that he hates so much that he created in the first place.

      • Phelps said God doesn’t hate them because they’re gay, they’re gay because God hates them. Hardcore Calvinism doesn’t believe people have options when it comes to salvation. God wants lots of people to suffer in hell for eternity, just because he’s sadistic like that. And when God’s sadistic, sadism is good.

        • Anarchy Pony | Mar 20, 2014 at 4:28 pm |

          That much more reason to kill god.

          • BuzzCoastin | Mar 20, 2014 at 6:07 pm |

            according to the story
            they did
            but He can’t die
            so It’s a Mexican standoff
            god, you you can’t live with him & you can’t kill him

          • I dunno, I reckon if you cut off ALL His heads…

          • Good luck with that one… He’ll kill every last man before someone tries to figure out how to do that 😉

        • Rhoid Rager | Mar 20, 2014 at 6:26 pm |

          Ahh Calvinism, the handmaiden of Capitalism.

          • misinformation | Mar 20, 2014 at 11:53 pm |

            Corporatism? Cronyism?

          • Rhoid Rager | Mar 21, 2014 at 12:19 am |

            No, just capitalism. It’s the link Max Weber made.
            Those other ‘c’ words are just offshoots.

          • misinformation | Mar 21, 2014 at 2:19 am |

            I’ll check out Max Weber. As far as I understand, capitalism doesn’t involve the state. Those other two ” C” words, most definitely do, which, of corse, makes them very different ideologies – not just “off-shoots”.

            Seems to me, a lot of what people consider “capitalism”, today, is really fascism, as defined by Mussolini. But I probably just have a cursory understanding.

  6. emperorreagan | Mar 20, 2014 at 2:41 pm |

    So a new group of elders didn’t think the church was hateful enough, eh?

  7. Gjallarbru | Mar 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm |

    Taking for granted there is an afterlife, I really do wonder how a man that produce so much hate, in god’s name, is going to be received.

    I bet there is soooo much planed for him…

  8. BuzzCoastin | Mar 20, 2014 at 4:34 pm |

    he who lives by the media
    dies by the media circus

  9. jasonpaulhayes | Mar 20, 2014 at 5:17 pm |

    I’m sorry for his families loss.

    • Thurlow Weed | Mar 20, 2014 at 6:00 pm |

      They are happy as hogs. No feeling of loss there.

      • I doubt they know what happiness is.

        • Thurlow Weed | Mar 20, 2014 at 7:35 pm |

          You would have an easier time explaining what the flavor of vanilla tastes like than defining happiness. My point above is there is no “family’s lose”.

          • I disagree with that point. The death of an abusive parent doesn’t erase the damage done to his children and grandchildren.

  10. Doubleutf | Mar 20, 2014 at 5:41 pm |

    This fucking nut job won’t be missed.

  11. I can’t help but wonder whether Fred Phelps tested positive for HIV and was excommunicated for that (proof, after all…)

  12. mauriziojuvefc | Mar 20, 2014 at 7:36 pm |

    like a fart in the wind, sadly he left skidmarks

  13. VaudeVillain | Mar 20, 2014 at 7:45 pm |

    I am glad that his hate is gone. I am sorry that it took his death for that to happen. It is tragic, looking back, to see how much of his life and the lives of those around him were consumed by hate.

    I hope that in his final moments, or in whatever afterlife may exist, that he found the peace, love and joy which apparently eluded him for so many years.

    • Thurlow Weed | Mar 20, 2014 at 11:20 pm |

      If I were god, weighing the benefits of letting you into the afterlife, aka heaven, and I read your comment above, I’d send you directly to the void instead. People in the afterlife don’t need to be hearing how much anyone hopes Fred Phelps got it right in the final moments of his life.

      • VaudeVillain | Mar 21, 2014 at 8:28 am |

        Good for you.

        That’s some really top-notch hostility you’ve cultivated, has it made your life better yet?

  14. Fred who?

  15. Lord, if it is possible, have mercy!

  16. LifelongLIb | Mar 21, 2014 at 12:43 am |

    As far as who takes over, I don’t know about this particular church, but Baptists were among the first denominations to have women preachers (in the 17th century!).

  17. A toast to the SOB…He was an attorney who began his career defending civil rights for blacks and fighting Jim Crow laws for which he was ostracized by the community.

    And that, not knowing him, is that the best I can say for the man. May he be discussing reality with Freddy Mercury right now.

    …It’s an Irish thing,

  18. Noah_Nine | Mar 25, 2014 at 3:29 am |

    The world of comedy will never be the same. With the determination of a well seasoned method actor and a dedication to character that makes Andy Kaufman look like a bumbling amateur, alternative comic and gay rights activist Fred Phelps fooled the world with an immersive, long-form performance piece that managed to beguile the media, the internet and and westboro church leaders in equal measure. Comedy has lost a true genius. I for one look forward to Sasha Baron Cohen playing him in the inevitable biopic…

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