Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., the founder of the vehemently anti-LGBT Westboro Baptist Church, has died.
He was 84.
Westboro Baptist Church confirmed Phelps’ death in a an online statement titled, “Fred W. Phelps, Sr. Has Gone The Way of All Flesh, And Has Died on March 19, 2014.”
“The world-wide media has been has been [sic] in a frenzy during the last few days, gleefully anticipating the death of my grandfather, Fred Waldron Phelps Sr,” said an unidentified member of the church in the statement. “It has been an unprecedented, hypocritical, vitriolic explosion of words. Do they vainly hope for the death of his body? People die — that is the way of all flesh.”
The statement did not include his cause of death.
Phelps’ daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, told the Topeka Capital-Journal that Phelps Sr. died late Wednesday night.
Over the weekend, Phelps’ estranged son, Nathan Phelps, said his father was “on the edge of death” and had been excommunicated from the church last August.
On Monday, the church denied claims that Phelps Sr. was on his deathbed in an online statement to reporters, saying in part, “… the idea that someone would suggest that he is near death, is not only highly speculative, but foolish considering that all such matters are the sole prerogative of God.”
However, the church did say Phelps was experiencing health problems and that he was in the care of Midland Care Hospice in Topeka, Kan.
Phelps and Westboro are known across the world for their demonstrations and pickets outside the funerals of LGBT people, celebrities, victims of disasters, and military personnel as well as major events — always waving hateful posters and signs condemning LGBT people that say “GOD HATES FAGS,” among others.
Phelps, an ordained minister, founded the church in 1955.
Representatives from Westboro Baptist Church did not respond to requests for additional comments Thursday.