‘Westboro Baptist Church Suing Funeral Protesters Of Fred Phelps’ is Satire

March 23, 2014 Updated: March 23, 2014

An article titled “Westboro Baptist Church Suing Funeral Protesters Of Fred Phelps” is satire

The article was published on the National Report, which doesn’t publish real news reports.

“Paul Horner who is a spokesman for the Westboro Baptist Church told reporters that the funeral for Fred Phelps would be closed to the public. ‘Show the man some respect on his well-deserved journey into Heaven,’ Horner said,” the article reads.

“Paul Horner” is a name frequently used in National Report satire articles. 

The National Report has a disclaimer, which says it is satire.

“DISCLAIMER: National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental,” it says.

Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church–which frequently pickets the funerals of U.S. soldiers–died last week.

There will be no funeral for Phelps, a spokesperson confirmed.

Once seen as the church’s unchallengeable patriarch, Phelps’ public visibility waned as he grew older and less active in the church’s pickets, with daughters Shirley Phelps-Roper and Margie Phelps — an attorney who argued the church’s case before the U.S. Supreme Court — most often speaking for Westboro. In the fall of 2013, even they were replaced by a church member not related to Phelps by blood as Westboro’s chief spokesman.

In Phelps’ later years, the protests themselves were largely ignored or led to counter-demonstrations that easily shouted down Westboro’s message. A motorcycle group known as the Patriot Guard arose to shield mourners at military funerals from Westboro’s notorious signs. 

Phelps’ final weeks were shrouded in mystery. A long-estranged son, Nate Phelps, said his father had been voted out of the congregation in the summer of 2013 “after some sort of falling out,” but the church refused to discuss the matter. Westboro’s spokesman would only obliquely acknowledge this month that Phelps had been moved into a care facility because of health problems.

Margie Phelps did not reveal to The Associated Press on Thursday the condition that put Phelps in hospice care. Asked if he was surrounded by family or friends at his death, she would only say that “all of his needs were met when he died.” There will be no funeral, she said.

Fred Waldron Phelps was born in Meridian, Miss., on Nov. 13, 1929. He was raised a Methodist and once said he was “happy as a duck” growing up. He was an Eagle Scout, ran track and graduated from high school at age 16.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.