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The founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps, died late Wednesday of natural causes at age 84.
Phelps was moved to a hospice care facility because of health, and several rumors arose that he was excommunicated from the church.
The church is known for picketing soldiers' funerals and believing that the Sandy Hook shootings and natural causes happen because of society’s nonchalant attitude on homosexuality.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said in a statement that, "Fred Phelps will not be missed by the LGBT community, people with HIV/AIDS and the millions of decent people across the world who found what he and his followers do deeply hurtful and offensive." While the LGBT community does not agree with his views, the group offered condolences to his family in their time of need, according to CNN.
Many people who are not inside the church do not understand Phelps teachings. In an interview with the Associated Press in 2006, Phelps asked, “Can you preach the Bible without preaching the hatred of God?” and answered, “The answer is absolutely not. And these preachers that muddle that and use that deliberately, ambiguously to prey on the follies and the fallacious notions of their people — that's a great sin."
Phelps founded the Westboro Baptist Church around 1955 in Topeka, Kansas after he met his wife. Phelps is survived by 13 children, some of which followed their father into practicing law.
The Westboro Baptist Church condemns all people who are supportive of homosexuality. Members praise God when soldiers are killed, or when victims of AID/HIV die. Most do not care if the world hates their message.
image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons