Fred Phelps Sr., the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, is “on the edge of death,” according to a Facebook post Saturday night by his estranged son.
His son, Nathan Phelps says the 84-year-old Westboro founder was voted out of his church late last summer. He was moved into a home in Topeka, Kansas “where he could be watched over,” and ultimately stopped eating and drinking, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports.
“[Fred] is at Midland Hospice House where, as of yesterday [Friday], he is comfortable without the respiratory difficultly [sic] that he was having the day before and is unresponsive,” Nathan Phelps told the Capital-Journal via email. According to the paper, a Westboro spokesman confirmed the elder Phelps is indeed a patient at the hospice.
Phelps Sr. and Westboro are known across the world for their demonstrations and pickets — usually outside the funerals of notable people, victims of disasters, and military personnel — and for their hateful posters and signs condemning LGBT people that say “GOD HATES FAGS,” among others. Recently, members of the church picketed an event celebrating out gay NFL draft prospect Michael Sam.
Phelps Sr., an ordained minister, founded the church in 1955.
In a follow-up comment to his post on Facebook, Nathan Phelps would not comment on the specifics surrounding his father’s apparent excommunication from his own church, saying:
In his initial post, Phelps said of his father’s declining health, “I’m not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.”
Nathan Phelps left the church over 30 years ago and now describes himself as an LGBT advocate. Family members who still belong to the church are allegedly blocking other loved ones from seeing Phelps Sr., he said.
“I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many,” Phelps said. “I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.”
Nathan Phelps did not respond to messages seeking additional comment.
Additionally, Westboro Baptist Church did not respond to several requests for comment on Sunday, but tweeted this warning about the media to its followers: