Tuesday, July 22, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Westboro Baptist Church Founder, Fred Phelps, 'On The Edge Of Death'

By Bianca Facchinei b.facchinei@hngn.com | Mar 16, 2014 02:40 PM EDT

Westboro Baptist Church
Fred Phelps, the 84-year-old founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, is near death according to his estranged son. (Photo : Reuters)

Fred Phelps, founder of the vehemently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, is reportedly near death, the New York Daily News reported.

According to WBC spokesman Steve Drain, the 84-year-old Phelps is "having some health problems" and is being cared for in a Shawnee County facility. However, Phelps' estranged son, Nathan, wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that his father is on the "edge of death." 

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"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," Nathan Phelps wrote. "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." 

Members of the extremely controversial Westboro Baptist Church, based in Kansas, became infamous for protesting the death of U.S. soldiers -- claiming their deaths are God's reaction to and punishment for homosexuality and abortion. 

The WBC is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and inspired several state laws allowing for the prevention of the group from picketing funerals. However, a landmark 2011 Supreme Court ruling claimed members were protected under the First Amendment from being sued by grieving families. 

Many people took to social media following news of Phelps' reported near death, most of whom made comments in jest. 

"I am absolutely thrilled about the prospect of being able to picket the imminent funeral of Fred Phelps. Gonna start making signs right now," one Twitter user wrote. 

"I want to go to Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps' funeral and hold up a sign that says, 'God is Love,'" Susie Meister wrote. 

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