FAIRFIELD, Conn. – With notorious Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Sr. reportedly "on the edge of death," Fairfield residents weren't quite sure how they felt or what to say.
Phelps, the 84-year-old founder of a church infamous for picketing the funerals of gays and U.S. soldiers, is near death according to reports. He was excommunicated by the church last August and is currently receiving care at a hospice in Topeka, Kan.Steve Drain, a Westboro spokesman, confirmed Sunday that Phelps is in ill health.
When asked, few Fairfield residents were willing to speak on the record about the failing health of Phelps, who had said the deaths of U.S. soldiers are due to divine punishment for the country’s tolerance of homosexuality.
One Fairfield resident, who declined to be named in an online article, said she was hesitant to express sympathy for a man who was so virulent in his dislike of those who oppose their opinions and of people in trying times. But she said she was sad for any family suffering as someone becomes gravely ill and nears death.
Many others expressed the same sentiment, not wanting to duplicate the same hatred that the church had spewed. Another resident said, “All men die,” but added that she didn’t know much about the group or Phelps.
But one Fairfield man expressed very little sympathy, saying sarcastically, “What a pity,” when told that Phelps was dying.
Phelps’ estranged son, Nathan, perhaps said it best in his post on Facebook Sunday afternoon, “I'm not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.
"I feel sad for all the hurt he's caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I'm bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes."
His Facebook post had nearly 2,000 responses, with many happy about Phelps' impending death.
"My sympathies Nathan for being the son of one of the most hated people on earth - maybe you're actually adopted? There's always hope in that thought. Otherwise, road trip! I'll bring the champagne."
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