The paper reported that Phelps had been “on the edge of death” over the weekend and had been in hospice care — although his cause of death has not been confirmed.
Phelps had also been ex-communicated from his own church in August of 2013, for reportedly advocating a “kinder approach.”
Members of the hateful church were often photographed with picket signs saying things like, “God Hates F*gs”, “Thank God for dead soldiers”, “Don’t Pray For The USA” and “Thank God For 9/11.”
The church’s extreme ideology was based on the claim that deaths were a direct result of America’s tolerance for homosexuality and abortion, and the nation’s immorality.
As of 2011, the church — which is primarily made up of the Phelps family — had about 40 members.
Westboro Baptist Church was defined by The Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.
The controversial church leader’s death was immediately met with jubilation online:
It seems the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps, has died.
I sincerely hope he rests in peace.
God knows he struggled here.—
Chely Wright (@chelywright) March 20, 2014
Fred Phelps has died. Everybody go do something SUUUUUUUPER gay in his memory, and may he burn in hell.—
Bob Chipman (@the_moviebob) March 20, 2014
Westboro's Fred Phelps died last night, according to son. Gotta say — not upset about this news. In fact, need a few more WBC obits.—
Roy Bragg (@roybragg) March 20, 2014
However, some insist on taking the high road — sending well-wishes to his family and not being the kind of person he was.
Fred Phelps is gone — let's try to not be as mean and hateful about his death as he was in life.—
Maggie Hendricks (@maggiehendricks) March 20, 2014
There goes Fred Phelps. I hope all that rage transforms into something better.—
Colette Bennett (@colettebennett) March 20, 2014
While I don't agree with the views of his church, I beg everyone to remember that Fred Phelps was still human. I hope they can be at peace.—
Asslanta Bound Genet (@Seyloren) March 20, 2014
Before Phelps’ death, church family member Margie Phelps had revealed that he would not be having a funeral as they are not in line with their church policy.