Fred Phelps Founder of Westboro Baptist Dead

fred phelps

(CNN) Fred Phelps, the man who founded the Westboro Baptist Church known for its  anti-gay and other protests at high profile funerals has died.

Phelps, 84, died Wednesday according to the church’s statement.

Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas was founded in 1955.

Many members of the small congregation are related to Phelps through blood or marriage.

According to the church’s website, it has picketed more than 53,000 events, ranging from Lady Gaga concerts to funerals for slain U.S. soldiers.

While some have said they are happy Phelps is dead, others say finding happiness in his death is wrong.

Typically, a dozen or so church members, including small children, will hold signs that say “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”

Under Phelps’ leadership, Westboro members have preached that every calamity, from natural disasters to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, is God’s punishment for the country’s acceptance of homosexuality.

Phelps had advocated for gays and lesbians to be put to death.

It does not appear a funeral will be held, which some people find ironic.

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