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Fred Phelps – Founder Of Westboro Baptist Church – Dies

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The Reverend Fred Phelps Sr., who founded Westboro Baptist church, which is known for its protests at military funerals and anti-gay sentiments, has died according to his son Tim Phelps and Kansas First News.

Phelps, 84, was being cared for in a Kansas hospital, Westboro Baptist Church spokesman Steve Drain said Sunday.

Members of the Westboro Church, which is based in Topeka, KS, frequently protest at funerals of soldiers with signs bearing messages like “Thank God for dead soldiers,” and “Thank God for 9/11”. They claim the deaths are God’s punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

Westboro Baptist, a small group made mostly of Phelps’ extended family, inspired a federal law and separate laws in some states that limit picketing at funerals. In a major free-speech ruling in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court said that the church and its members couldn’t be sued for monetary damages for inflicting pain on grieving families under the First Amendment.

The Southern Poverty Law Center – a civil-rights nonprofit group – has called Westboro Baptist Church a hate group.

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