Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, has died at the age of 84, according to two of his children.
The Westboro Baptist Church was established in 1955 by Phelps. Over the years, the Topeka-based group became infamous for their vehement anti-gay rhetoric and picketing of funerals. In 2011, it was reported that the church only had about 100 members, almost all of whom were from Phelps’ family.
His son, Timothy Phelps, confirmed to Kansas’ WIBW that Fred Phelps died “before midnight” on Wednesday. His daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, also confirmed news of the death to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Nate Phelps, one of Fred Phelps’ estranged children, wrote a Facebook post on March 15 saying his father was “on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas.”
He also revealed Fred Phelps had been excommunicated from the church in August 2013. The Topeka Capital-Journal later reported the excommunication occurred after he called for kinder treatment of fellow church members.
A spokesperson for the Westboro Baptist Church was not immediately available for further comment Thursday.