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Anti-Gay Topeka Pastor Fred Phelps Dead at 84

westboro church wikiThe Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka. (Photo via commons.wikimedia.org)

Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, has died at the age of 84. The Topeka church is known for its anti-homosexual protests at events including funerals. Phelps founded the church in the 1950s, but came to national prominence in the 1990s after picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered in Wyoming in 1998. Margie Phelps is one of Fred Phelps’s daughters.

Margie Phelps says there will not be a funeral. In recent years, the church has gained attention for protesting at military funerals, saying military deaths are God’s punishment for the nation tolerating homosexuality. The church’s activities inspired a federal law on funeral picketing and laws in more than 40 states. The group won a major free-speech victory in 2011, when the U.S. Supreme Court declared the church and its members could not be sued for damages following a protest.

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Phelps Family Patriarch Dead at Age 84

Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, has died at age 84. His family confirms that he passed away early this (THUR) morning. The Topeka church is known for its anti-homosexual protests at events such as funerals. Phelps founded the church in the 1950s, but came to national prominence in the 1990s after picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered in Wyoming in 1998. Dr. Roy Menninger was involved with a Topeka community group formed in the '90s to combat the negative image brought by the church. He says one of Fred Phelps's legacies may ultimately be a move towards gay rights.

In recent years, the church has gained attention for protesting at military funerals, saying military deaths are God’s punishment for the nation tolerating homosexuality. One of Fred Phelps’s daughters who is still in the church, Margie Phelps, says there will not be a funeral. 

 

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