Fred Phelps, the founder of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, is in a care facility, it was reported.
Phelps, 84, is being cared for in a Shawnee County facility, church spokesman Steve Drain said Sunday.
“I can tell you that Fred Phelps is having some health problems,” Drain told The Associated Press. “He’s an old man, and old people get health problems.”
Members of the Westboro church, based in Topeka, Kansas, protest at funerals of U.S. soldiers with signs containing messages including “Thank God for dead soldiers,” and “Thank God for 9/11,” claiming the deaths are God’s punishment for immorality.
On Sunday, there were rumors saying that Phelps was dead, but it just appears that he’s on his deathbed, according to the Kansas City Star.
Nathan Phelps, one of Fred Phelps’ children who disagrees with his father’s views, wrote on Facebook: “I’m not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.”
“I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes,” he wrote.
Another one of his estranged sons, Mark, told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the news reports are “accurate.”
Nate Phelps, who left the church 37 years ago, told the Capital-Journal that members of Westboro have voted Fred Phelps out of the church. They became concerned after the vote that the elder Phelps might harm himself, and they then moved him out of the church. When Fred Phelps was moved into a house, he “basically stopped eating and drinking,” Nate Phelps told the paper.
Drain declined comment Sunday on whether Fred Phelps had been removed from the church. “We don’t discuss our internal church dealings with anybody,” Drain said.