Phelps, 84, is reported to be dying in a Kansas hospice.
Phelps founded the Westboro Baptist Church, which is famous for picketing the funerals of military personnel and celebrities waving signs declaring, “God hates fags.” His group ran a website called godhatesfags.com that spewed homophobic myths and sentiments.
Over the past 20 years, he became the poster boy for homophobia. Other anti-gay religious leaders went out of their way to distance themselves from his hateful words and bizarre actions.
News of Phelps’ deteriorating health first came to public attention on Saturday evening when his estranged son Nate Phelps posted on his Facebook page that the pastor had been excommunicated from his own church last August and now lies dying:
“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.
Westboro Baptist Church spokesman Steve Drain told Fox News today said Phelps is being cared for in a Shawnee County facility. He wouldn't identify the facility but acknowledged that Phelps is "having some health problems."
While Phelps has made fewer and fewer public appearances over the past year, his church has carried forth its hate mission through the work of his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper and other family members who formed the bulk of his congregation.
Ironically, Phelps’ fanaticism served to draw sympathy for gays. Some LGBT leaders have said he and his church did more to further LGBT rights than the civil rights movement’s own leaders.
This is a developing story.