Westboro Baptist Church denies founder’s health is failing

FILE - In this March 19, 2006 file pazhoto, Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. preaches at his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Phelps, who founded a Kansas church that’s widely known for its protests at military funerals and anti-gay sentiments, is being cared for in a Shawnee County facility according to Westboro Baptist Church spokesman Steve Drain on Sunday, March 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Family members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church Founder, Fred Phleps, are posting on social media about the rumors of his health going downhill. The rumors started over the weekend, that Phelps is on his death bed, and that he has been excluded from church membership. Westboro Baptist Church has denied his ailing health.

Westboro Baptist spokesman, Steve Drain, said on the phone to Kansas First News, the rumors that Fred Phelps is dying, are inaccurate. Drain said Fred Phelps is alive, and he does not think he will pass away any time soon.

A statement from Drain reads in part, “Fred Phelps has health issues, but the idea that someone would suggest that he is near death, is not only highly speculative, but foolish considering that all such matters are the sole prerogative of God. The Church says, when it comes to his status with Westboro, membership issues are private.

Phelps’ granddaughter, Grace Phelps-Roper, wrote an open letter to her grandfather on her blog. She left the church last year. In her letter, she says, “Everyone talks about you as if you’re already in the grave; I know your heart is still beating & I hope you live up to your stubborn legacy & live for a long while yet.” She then goes on to talk about her memories with her grandfather: “I miss you so much. I wish the sisters & I could meet you & Granny for another shake party up in your room.” You can read the rest of Grace Phelps-Roper’s letter here.

Lauren Drain, the daughter of WBC Spokesman, Steve Drain, left the church several years ago. She posted on Facebook on the rumor Phelps has been excluded from the church, “If the rumors are true regarding Fred Phelps, & I have strong reason to believe that they are – this news to me is incredibly devastating. When I was back in the church 8 years ago, I witnessed various members get ex-communicated & watched in horror & fear as families were ripped apart at the seams.”

We reached out to Lauren Drain via e-mail earlier Monday, she responded Monday evening saying, “Given the current circumstances around Fred Phelp’s health I do not think it is appropriate to take any interview requests while a man, any man, is on his deathbed.” Read the rest of her Facebook post on her page, here.

Westboro Baptist Church has not responded to requests for an on camera interview. Earlier Monday, they denied, saying it would “make for boring television.”

Full Statement from Westboro Baptist Church:

FAQ on current items in the media related to WBC

Q: Is Fred Phelps near death?

A: Fred Phelps is a person of advanced age, and such people sometimes have health issues. Fred Phelps has health issues, but the idea that someone would suggest that he is near death, is not only highly speculative, but foolish considering that all such matters are the sole prerogative of God. Consider the scripture:

“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” – De 32:39

Q: Has Fred Phelps been ‘excluded’ from membership at Westboro Baptist Church?

A: Membership issues are private.

Q: Who is the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church?

A: The church has no singular leader – our head is the Lord Jesus Christ. The church currently has 8 male members who have been serving the church in the capacity of ‘elders’ for several years(this word is synonymous with ‘bishop,’ ‘pastor,’ and ‘overseer’) – all of whom minister to the members of the church, preach, and are involved in doctrine and teaching. These men were unanimously chosen by the members of the church to serve in this capacity, having evidenced the proper scriptural qualifications: This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”– 1Tim. 3:1-7


“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”Tit. 1:5-9.


Q: What do any of these issues change?

A: Nothing. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ does not rise or fall with any man – in fact, the Lord doesn’t need ANY of us. This is still a nation and world awash in sin. We will still warn you of this condition, out of our love and fear of the Lord, and out of our love for our neighbors. Here is the message of Westboro Baptist Church: God still hates f**s, God still hates f** enablers and any nation that embraces that sin as an ‘innocent’ lifestyle can expect to incur the wrath of God. Repent or Perish.“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” – Ps. 9:17″

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