(RNN) – The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., founder of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS, has died at age 84.
He recently has been in hospice care at a Shawnee County, KS, facility.
“The death of Fred Phelps’ body, a man who preached a plain faithful doctrine to an ever darkening world, is nothing but a vain, empty, hypocritical hope for you,” the Westboro Baptist Church said in a statement released on Twitter.
The Westboro Baptist Church is known for protesting military funerals and other sensitive situations while holding signs with anti-gay sentiments, such as “God Hate Fags” and “Thank God for 9/11.”
According to the church’s website, godhatesfags.com, Phelps and his followers mission is to show Americans their transgression and cause America to know her abominations.
The website states: “We adhere to the teachings of the Bible, preach against all form of sin (e.g., fornication, adultery [including divorce and remarriage], sodomy), and insist that the sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace be taught and expounded publicly to all men.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil-rights nonprofit group, has called Westboro Baptist Church a hate group since the 1990s.
Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said the church was added to the list after their “the bombastic protest” at Matthew Shepard’s funeral.
“There is no more obnoxious hate group in American society,” Beirich said.
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