Anti-Gay Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps Has Died

Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps has died, according to the church.

His son Tim Phelps said that his father died Wednesday night just before midnight, according to WIBW-TV.

Phelps, 84, was known for his anti-gay sentiment and for his church’s frequent protests at U.S. soldiers’ funerals.

[blackbirdpie url=”″]

Westboro also acknowledged the death on its Twitter account Thursday, writing, “The death of Fred Phelps, a man who preached faithfully to a dark world, is nothing but a hypocritical hope for you!”

The church also put put a statement on its blog, decrying the media response to news surrounding the fiery preacher.

“The world-wide media has been has been in a frenzy during the last few days, gleefully anticipating the death of Fred Waldron Phelps Sr.,” the release read. “It has been an unprecedented, hypocritical, vitriolic explosion of words.”

Reports have been circulating over the past week that the fiery preacher has been in hospice care after purportedly being excommunicated from Westboro last August following a dispute with church elders.

FILE - 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. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File
FILE – In this March 19, 2006 file photo, Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. preaches at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Phelps, who founded Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., in 1955, has long led church activities and rallies, so it was surprising when his estranged son, Nathan Phelps, posted on his Facebook page last weekend that his father was on his death bed and no longer a part of the church.

Representatives for Westboro refused to definitively answer whether Phelps — once a civil rights lawyer — was no longer a member, though leaders did say earlier this week that he was “a person of advanced age” who was in hospice care.

Contrary to reports surrounding the death, Jonathan Phelps, another one of his sons, told a local outlet Thursday morning that his father “is doing just fine,” though it is unclear if this was a reference to Phelps’ spiritual and not physical condition, WIBW-TV reported.

Here’s a brief recap of Phelps’ life story:

His death was first reported Thursday morning by KSNT-TV and WIBW-TV.

Megan Phelps-Roper, Phelps’ granddaughter who left Westboro last year, posted a series of tweets about Phelps’ demise:

[blackbirdpie url=”″]

[blackbirdpie url=”″]

[blackbirdpie url=”″]

This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.