Nathan Phelps, the estranged son of outspoken anti-gay campaigner Fred Phelps, has announced the 84 year-old’s ailing condition with a post on his Facebook page.
According to his son, Fred Phelps is “on the edge of death” in a Kansas hospice. An ardent public campaigner for Christian values, Fred Phelps courted controversy his entire life as the founding father and face of the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church.
Founded in 1955, the group is known for their ruthless and public condemnation of the gay, lesbian, transsexual and transgender community, regularly protesting at the funerals of American soldiers or gay individuals, calling their deaths “punishment” for pro-gay US policy.
They are also responsible for the now-infamous “God hates fags” protest signs.
Phelps expressed his mixed feelings about his controversial father’s imminent passing, admitting that he’s both sad for the loss, sorry for the pain his father has caused and angry at family members who are preventing less-loyal Church members from seeing their dying relative.
There are reports that the dying founder has been excommunicated from the church, but a church spokesperson refused to comment.
Social media site Twitter has exploded with comments, many ridiculing the pastor by imagining his humorous or regretful final words under the hashtag #FredPhelpsLastWords.
“I should’ve made it clearer that I was using the British slang for cigarettes the whole time.” #FredPhelpsLastWords
— Allan Mott (@HouseofGlib) March 16, 2014
I know I hated gays and all, but The Pet Shop Boys wrote some great songs. #FredPhelpsLastWords
— Ma’ggie (@maggieserota) March 16, 2014
Some users are even threatening to attend Phelps’ funeral, brainstorming protest sign ideas under the hashtag #FredPhelpsFuneralSigns.
Positive sentiments are limited to Nathan Phelps’ Facebook page, which has seen an outpouring of support for the LGBT rights advocate who separated himself from his abusive father and 12 siblings in adulthood.