Westboro Booted Phelps for Pushing 'Kinder Approach'

But he was referring to other church members, not apparently to homosexuals
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2014 1:07 PM CDT
Westboro Booted Phelps for Pushing 'Kinder Approach'
A 2006 file photo of Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

News surfaced over the weekend that Fred Phelps, the 86-year-old founder of the notorious anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, was not only near death but had been excommunicated from his own church. Why the latter? It's still not entirely clear, but the Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the excommunication came after he pushed for a "kinder approach between church members." He did so after what the newspaper calls a "power struggle" within the church—a newly created male board of elders pushed out Phelps' high-profile daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, and assumed all decision-making power.

"They took the one thing that meant everything to the man," son Nate Phelps, who left the church decades ago, says of the excommunication. “That old man and his reason to exist have gone away.” So with the elder Phelps and his daughter gone, does that mean the church will stop picketing soldiers' funerals? (Don't bet on it, if the church's website is any guide.) And did Phelps' call for kindness extend beyond church members? A new WBC spokesperson would not talk details. "We don't discuss our internal church dealings with anybody." Phelps, meanwhile, remains at a hospice. The Huffington Post notes that the church has previously said it wouldn't hold a public memorial or funeral for any member because "we don't worship the dead in this church." (More Westboro Baptist Church stories.)

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