Fred Phelps Near Death, Excommunicated By Family

Jim Burroway

March 17th, 2014

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Nathan Phelps, the estranged son of Westboro Baptist founder Fred Phelps, posted this on Facebook last Saturday:

I’ve learned that my father, Fred Phelps, Sr., pastor of the “God Hates Fags” Westboro Baptist Church, was ex-communicated from the “church” back in August of 2013. He is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas.

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.

I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many. 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.

The Topeka Capital-Journal has just a little bit more:

After Phelps was voted out of Westboro Baptist Church this past summer, he was moved out of the church and into a house, where he was watched to ensure he wouldn’t harm himself, a son estranged from the church said Sunday.

Phelps eventually stopped eating and drinking, and on Sunday, he was near death, son Nate Phelps said in a Facebook posting. The information also is based on an email sent by Nate Phelps to a Topeka Capital-Journal reporter.

“(Fred) is at Midland Hospice House where, as of yesterday (Friday), he is comfortable without the respiratory difficulty that he was having the day before and is unresponsive,” Nate Phelps wrote, quoting a message sent to him.

Westboro spokesman Steve Drain confirmed that Phelps was in a nursing home but refused to discuss the excommunication. Drain is believed to be the only member of the church who is not related to the Phelps clan by blood or marriage. His estranged and excommunicated daughter, Laura Drain, reacted to the news yesterday on Facebook:

If the rumors are true regarding Fred Phelps, & I have strong reason to believe that they are – this news to me is incredibly devastating. When I was back in the church 8 years ago, I witnessed various members get ex-communicated & watched in horror & fear as families were ripped apart at the seams.

There was one summer, that I can draw upon perfectly clear as to the nature of the harshness & severity of our beliefs. Our very own pastor, who supposedly was guided by God & helped guide our ministry, his own membership was being called into question by the remaining members (most of which were his own sons, daughters & progeny). This notion devastated me & I remember as a church we became obsessed with hiding it from the media. I couldn’t realize why. To protect the reality that all humans, including a pastor could sin? To protect the fact that we as a church could possibly make a mistake? To protect our “name” to the world? It was hypocritical that we weren’t more focused on how to treat one another! How to forgive! How to leave God’s judgments in His hands! Did we really reach the point where we thought we owned salvation to discard people like trash? The pastor was forgiven that summer & I saw a glimmer of humility in his eyes that day, that all of us are human & subject to feeling vulnerable & hopeless.

It stopped me in my tracks from ever considering leaving myself, feeling family love & connection was something I felt was most precious in life, to my very core. Because of my non-compliance to church policy, which I witnessed change day to day, I became ex-communicated myself, cut off from my family that I held so dear.

…I pray that despite all the many families & people affected by the WBC, that they will not have vengeance in their heart, but rather pity. …Consider this, there are members still there, like my younger siblings, who can and will learn from experiencing compassion from others, not polarizing hate.

Prove the WBC wrong. We all seek peace not vengeance.

Equality Kansas echoes that plea:

Equality Kansas (formerly the Kansas Equality Coalition) today urged members of the Kansas, United States, and worldwide LGBT communities to respect the privacy of the family of Fred W. Phelps, notorious pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church.

“If the reports of Fred Phelps’ declining health are accurate, then his family and friends are certainly saying their good-byes and preparing to mourn his loss,” said Sandra Meade, chairwoman of Equality Kansas. “We ask that everyone understand the solemnity of the occasion, and honor the right of his family and friends to remember and mourn his loss in private without interruption or unseemly celebration,” Meade said.

…”For over 20 years, Phelps and the members of his Topeka-based church have harassed the grieving families of LGBT Kansans and others,” said Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas. “He and his followers showed utter disregard for the privacy and grief of others for many years. This is our moment as a community to rise above the sorrow, anger, and strife he sowed, and to show the world we are caring and compassionate people who respect the privacy and dignity of all,” Witt said.

I agree. We are certainly much better than them. Besides, Fred Phelps was undoubtedly the best gay rights campaigner we ever had.

There’s an old saying about some enemies that if they didn’t exist, we’d have to create them. Phelps is his own creation, and now he is reaping the rewards of his creation. He taught his family the deepest intricacies of hate, and now his gift to them has earned dividends that are being rewarded back to him. That alone is justice.

Ben In Oakland

March 17th, 2014

Elsewhere, someone wrote THIS:

Fred Phelps became the example that no self respecting Christian wanted to become.”

I’d have to disagree with that. There is a great deal of power, money, dominion, self-aggrandizement, self-righteousness, and self promotion to be found in homohatred. and for the homo-hating-homos– and I would be willing to bet that little Freddy Krueger was one of them– there is a huge amount of exorcising of one’s personal demons as well. There are LOTS of self-respecting Christians who buy their self respect with the betrayal of their Christianity and the easy coin of other people’s lives.

That being said– picket his funeral? Why would I want to bother? I’ll need a better excuse than that to go to a hell-hole like Kansas in the middle of winter. whatever happened to Kansas– a former progressive state held in thrall by the people who think exactly like Miss Krueger did.

I have no sympathy for him or his so-called family. Do I hate him? no, I could never be bothered to hate him. Too much energy required. Despise him, and all that think like him?

Absolutely, but its a very passive despite.

I will limit myself to a glass of wine in celebration of his demise. We should only speak good of the dying. So, I will say it:

“Good. He’s dying.”


March 17th, 2014

“We are certainly much better than them. Besides, Fred Phelps was undoubtedly the best gay rights campaigner we ever had.”

Exactly. I am sure that countless opponents of lgbt equality and dignity re-thought their positions because they looked in a mirror one day and saw Fred Phelps staring back.

It’s sad to see the venom spewing in the comment sections of some of our websites.

Priya Lynn

March 17th, 2014

” I am sure that countless opponents of lgbt equality and dignity re-thought their positions because they looked in a mirror one day and saw Fred Phelps staring back.

It’s sad to see the venom spewing in the comment sections of some of our websites.”.

There’s no equivalence. Phelps attacked innocent people, the people who are attacking him are attacking someone for the evil he did.

That’s like saying someone who hates a gay basher sees the gay basher looking back at them in the mirror.

Timothy Kincaid

March 17th, 2014

I am of the opinion that hate is an emotion that skews ones own thinking and embitters ones own soul.

Irrespective of whether the recipient of the hate “deserves it”, it warps and twists and harms the one hating.

Fred Phelps ruined his own life through his hatred. Let’s not let him to ruin ours.

Ben In Oakland

March 17th, 2014

I’m 100% in agreement, timothy. It’s why I said I couldn’t be bothered to hate him.


March 17th, 2014

This is the first article I have read on the matter and I hope it is the next-to-last (after I read the other BTB blurb on the subject). I can’t dance at the man’s destruction and death, but I can’t bring myself to care, either. The best epitaph we can give hims is, “Fred who?”


March 17th, 2014

What Nathaniel said.

Richard Rush

March 17th, 2014

Timothy, I agree, but I think hate can be even worse for the hater than you suggest.

It’s one thing to casually say “I hate this” or “I hate that,” but it is quite another for hate to be combined with a rage that is so deeply ingrained and all-consuming that it not only “skews ones own thinking,” but creates a compulsion to indulge their hate to the point where it literally and tangibly damages, or even destroys, ones own life. Think of the worst case scenario where people are wasting away in prisons because of irresistible compulsions to indulge their hate/rage, plus those who ended up dead themselves because they couldn’t resist their compulsions.


March 17th, 2014

Phelps is not worth the effort it would take to care very much about his demise, one way or the other.

Regan DuCasse

March 17th, 2014

It’s bad enough there are younger generations left to continue his legacy. They might be fewer. They might even do more damage in another way.
One of them could be mentally ill and commit an actual hate crime. Although so far, the Phelps are restrained enough to not have committed violence themselves, but seem to enjoy risking provoking it.

Let’s not forget what the 20 child reality tv family The Duggars have wrought.
Their eldest works for the FRC. He may eventually find that it’s not as lucrative as he thought to participate in the kinds of hate politics that Tony Perkins engages in.
In what way that will frustrate the younger Duggar and what political strategies by Perkins he’ll get roped into will be interesting.
Trust me, he’s not that bright or charismatic.
The kind of false senses of moral entitlement that being on television, or in an insulated religious family can do to you.

Priya Lynn

March 17th, 2014

“I am of the opinion that hate is an emotion that skews ones own thinking and embitters ones own soul.”

I am of the opinion that hate, like fear and love evolved as an emotion that is necessary for survival. It is not something to pretend doesn’t exist and in my opinion anyone who says they don’t hate is just making the claim out of a desire to be politcally correct, just as people like to say absurd things like “all people have equal value, even Hitler”

Priya Lynn

March 17th, 2014

Can we hate too much? Sure, just as we can love too much or fear too much. But as it is with those other emotions, sometimes hate is apropriate and beneficial.


March 17th, 2014

I am going to do the thing that will probably guile Fred Phelps and his family most. I’m going to show him and his family the love, kindness and compassion that they were never willing or able to show others and I’m going to do it all while being the biggest FAG I can be.

Only love conquers hate; only light conquers darkness — MLK Jr., originally from Shakyamuni Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha

Ryan P.

March 17th, 2014

What is sad is that the WBC devoted so much time to making a hate statement that they forgot to love. Love begets love just as hate begets hate. Though in the end, I think more people find that love is much easier to live with than hate. I wonder if there was something that he hated in life that consumed him so much that he had to lash out the way he did. No matter what, he will be remembered for what he did. May he die knowing that no matter how ugly a person is in life, the good Lord still loves him and will welcome him.


March 17th, 2014

Is that a cowboy hardhat he’s wearing beneath an oversize regular cowboy hat?

Cowboys turn me on, but that photo –there are some things you just can’t unsee.


March 18th, 2014

He is using a rain protector on his hat.

It’s a plastic wrap with an elasticized band to easily cover the hat.

(A whole new meaning to Glad Wrap.) You will live longer if you laugh sometimes.


March 18th, 2014

That’s what happens with those that pursue religious or other ideological purity. Circular firing squad is the ultimate fate. Too bad for them.

I will give credit where credit is due. Fred et al certainly provided bad publicity for the anti-GLBT contingent.


March 18th, 2014

I disagree. While I myself have never had the desire to picket Fred Phelps in life, and certainly won’t in death, neither will I begrudge anyone who does feel the need to picket his funeral as one last act of catharsis. Turnabout is fair play, so nobody should feel constrained by propriety that might otherwise limit our actions. So, if anyone who has endured the hatred of this man over the many years feels that it might do him or her some good to say goodbye with a picket sign, I say have at it.

Mark F.

March 19th, 2014

Westboro was actually a great boon for gay rights. Most reasonable people saw how mean and absurd they were, and they therefore were more likely to come down on our side. As for Phelps, I’m not really sure he even believed what he professed. Westboro made a lot of money over the years and made him a famous man. It’s possible it was all a big con.

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