The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. was excommunicated from his own Westboro Baptist Church in a power struggle, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal in Kansas.
The Capital-Journal cites his estranged son, Nathan Phelps, as the source who revealed that Phelps lost a power struggle to a committee of WBC elders who defeated his daughter and longtime spokeswoman, Shirley Phelps-Roper. Fred Phelps asked for kinder treatment among church members.
Steve Drain, now the spokesman of the infamous "God hates fags" community, has also officially denied that Fred Phelps Sr. is "near death." Instead, they say that Phelps, 84, "has a couple things going on," and that he "is a person of advanced age, and such people sometimes have health issues."
Drain was reportedly a part of the elders board that excommunicated Phelps.
The church was terse with facts about Phelps' position in a Q&A on its blog. A question asked if Phelps was "excluded" from and answered with: "membership issues are private."
As far as how WBC will carry on, it doesn't appear the church is concerned:
"The church has no singular human 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..."
They go on to answer the question "What do any of these issues change?" with: "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."
So what is the future of the Westboro Baptist Church and its founder Fred Phelps? It doesn't look like we'll know until a family member decides to comment. Nathan Phelps said on his Facebook page that he and other estranged members of the family were not being allowed to see Phelps, even though Nathan claims he's dying.