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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