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Fred Phelps, Founder of Westboro Baptist Church, Dead at 84

Supreme Court Hears First Amendment Case On Protests At Military Funerals
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Fred Phelps, who founded the Westboro Baptist Church, died late Wednesday night at a hospice in Topeka, Kansas. He was 84.

Phelps and his church were notorious for picketing outside military funerals with signs saying things like “Thank God for dead soldiers” and for their anti-gay protest signs like “God hates fags.” Their actions led to near universal rejection of the church’s actions, methods and, in particular, Phelps himself.

In August 2013 the church excommunicated Phelps, its founder, apparently for wanting the church’s members to be nicer to each other. The church consisted largely of Phelps’ own family members, many of whom continue their protests to this day, despite many states’ passing laws regarding picketing outside of funerals.

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