Fred Phelps is Dead at 84

Founder and former leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan, Pastor Fred Phelps died March 19, 2014. Trained as a lawyer, Phelps became a pastor through congregational ordination. Phelps led Westboro to break away from its parent church across town in the 1950s, turning Westboro into an engine for anti-gay activity.
Louis Theroux's documentary The Most Hated Family in America told the story of the church where the core membership is made of Fred Phelps's descendants. The church gained fame through its protests of gay person's funerals, claiming that America was doomed if it did not repent of its acceptance of homosexuality. Westboro also regularly protests military funerals for the same reason.
In recent years, Phelps family members who escaped the grip of the reactionary organization, stepped forward to tell their stories. The antithetically themed Equality House – a project of Planting Peace – is painted in rainbow colors and stands across the street from Westboro.
Nearly universally reviled, Phelps was excommunicated by Westboro in 2013 after a church leadership struggle. A great irony of Phelps's hyperbolic hatred of the LGBT community is that his actions may have softened the view of others towards the cause of equality.

Bradley Osborn

Brad has been writing for Camp since 2004. His beat is mostly local features and general LGBT news. Common topics have included youth, faith and community. Although he holds an M.A. in journalism, he primarily considers himself to be a chemist, having studied and worked in biochemistry, quantitative analysis, quality assurance and the production of educational science texts. He's laconic, unintentionally enigmatic and often facetious. He enjoys irony, as well as things – but not animals, apparently – that are simultaneously beautiful and utilitarian. He and his cat, Charlie Parker, reside in downtown Kansas City, Mo. If you have a story idea for Brad, send him a note at bosborn@campkc.com.

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