Fred Phelps, the founder of one of the world’s most virulently anti-gay churches, has died.
According to WIBW news, Phelps’ son Timothy revealed that the former head of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) had passed away in hospital just before midnight on Wednesday.
The hate-pastor’s daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper also confirmed the news to the Topeka Capital Journal.
The 84-year-old American pastor and disbarred lawyer founded the Kansas-based church in 1955, but he only started targeting gay people in the early 90s.
Last week, another of Phelps’ sons Nathan, who left the church in 1980, claimed his father had been excommunicated in August last year.
The church has refused to comment on the reasons why the elderly Phelps may have been thrown out of his own church.
Estranged daughter Megan Phelps-Roper tweeted: “I’m so sorry for the harm he caused, that we all caused. But he could be so kind and wonderful. I wish you all could have seen that, too.”
She added: “I understand those who don’t mourn his loss, but I’m thankful for those who see that ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves the whole world blind.”
The WBC has largely consisted of Phelps’ extended family members, but despite its small membership it has made global headlines over the years thanks to its outrageous hate-filled protests and statements.
Known for their virulently anti-gay campaigns asserting that “God hates fags”, WBC members have picketed at gay friendly events and even demonstrated at funerals of US soldiers who were killed in action.
In December last year, the church threatened to travel to South Africa to picket Nelson Mandela’s funeral. It previously described Cape Town as being “fag-infested” and said that “South Africa has become Sodom.”
In 2012, the Advocate magazine named Phelps one the 45 worst homophobes in the world.