Fred Phelps, the founding pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, died Wednesday, the church said today. He was 84.
Phelps founded Westboro Baptist of Topeka, Kansas, in 1955 and molded it in his fire-and-brimstone image. Many members of the small congregation are related to Phelps through blood or marriage.
According to the church’s website, it has picketed more than 53,000 events, ranging from Lady Gaga concerts to funerals for slain U.S. soldiers. Typically, a dozen or so church members – including small children – brandish signs that say “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”
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Shocker: Pope Open to Gay Civil Unions
The Catholic Church could tolerate some types of civil unions as a way of protecting healthcare and property rights, Pope Francis said in an interview in the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.
While asserting that “matrimony is between a man and a woman,” the pontiff added that moves to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation [are] driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care. … It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety.”
It is the first time a Pope has ever indicated even a minute acceptance of civil unions.
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