This is why I like George Takei and why he's my friend (on FB lol)
Westboro church founder Fred Phelps dies
(CNN) -- Fred Phelps -- the founding pastor of a
Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public
events, including military funerals -- has died, the church said
The 84-year-old died of natural causes at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, according to church spokesman Steve Drain.
Phelps founded Westboro
Baptist Church 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.
In a statement Thursday, the church chided the "world-wide media" for "gleefully anticipating the death."
"God forbid, if every little soul at the Westboro Baptist Church were to die at this instant, or to turn from serving the true and living God, it would not change one thing about the judgments of God that await this deeply corrupted nation and world."
According to Westboro, the church 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 -- will brandish signs that say "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."
Phelps was often called "the most hated man in America," a label he seemed to relish.
"If I had nobody mad at me," he told the Wichita Eagle in 2006, "what right would I have to claim that I was preaching the Gospel?"
Under Phelps' leadership, Westboro members have preached that every calamity, from natural disasters to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, is God's punishment for the country's acceptance of homosexuality. Phelps had advocated for gays and lesbians to be put to death.
"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," the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said in a statement.
"While it is hard to find anything good to say about his views or actions, we do give our condolences to his family members at what must be a painful time for them."