Fred Phelps' congregation is known for holding up signs that read 'God Hates Fags'

Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps died on Wednesday of natural causes. He was 84.

Fred Phelps Dies

Phelps was reported to be in poor health by his son, Nathan Phelps, earlier in the week. At the time, Nathan Phelps revealed that his father was in a hospice facility and “on the edge of death” in a Facebook post. Westboro spokesman Steve Drain, who admitted Fred Phelps was having “health problems” on Monday, confirmed the death.

Throughout his tenure as the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, Phelps was regarded as the “most hated man in America.” Under the guise of religion, Phelps and his followers – who are mostly made up of his family members – protested funerals of slain soldiers and other events. At their protests, the group would hold up signs, which read, “Thank God For Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates Fags.”

Phelps took a particular interest in the last couple decades of his life in speaking out against the LGBT community. The members of his congregation held signs at the funeral of Matthew Shepherd, the gay college student that was beaten to death in 1998, and more recently, anywhere and everwhere against same-sex marriage.

Westboro Baptist Church Responds To Phelps' Critics

In response to the negative account of Phelps work as a reverend, the Westboro Baptist Church released a statement:

"God forbid, if every little soul at the Westboro Baptist Church were to die at this instant, or to turn from serving the true and living God, it would not change one thing about the judgments of God that await this deeply corrupted nation and world."

Now that Phelps has died, many have wondered if the Westboro Baptist Church would fall apart. A statement from the church maintains that they will continue in the event of Phelps’ death, and that they’re led by eight unnamed elders.

In keeping with Phelps’ beliefs against funerals, no funeral will take place to mourn him, according to CNN. Phelps daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper said, “We do not worship the dead."

Phelps is survived by his wife Margie M. Simms and five children: Nathan, Shirley, Mark Phelps, Rebekah Phelps-Davis and Margie Phelps.

– Chelsea Regan

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