Fred Phelps, the recently-excommunicated founder of the much-loathed Westboro Baptist Church, died Thursday at the age of 84.
Phelps and his Topeka, Kansas-based church made their name by holding anti-gay demonstrations at the funerals of military service members, whom they believed had been killed as god’s punishment for the U.S.’s tolerance of homosexuality. The protests, which often featured signs blaring “God Hates Fags,” were so noxious that bikers began showing up by the hundreds to block them. They eventually inspired numerous states to pass changes in laws governing demonstrations at funerals.
The church largely comprises Phelps’ family members, though he was recently described by his estranged son on Facebook as ex-communicated. Phelps passed away in a Shawnee County hospice facility.
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