The Fred Phelps story just keeps getting weirder: remember the bit about him being excommunicated from Westboro Baptist Church? Turns out it happened in a coup last summer.
Via the Topeka Capital-Journal:
Pastor Fred Waldron Phelps Sr. was excommunicated from the Westboro Baptist Church after advocating a kinder approach between church members.
The excommunication occurred after the formation of a board of male elders in the church. The board had defeated Shirley Phelps-Roper, the church's longtime spokeswoman, in a power struggle, and Fred Phelps Sr. called for kinder treatment of fellow church members.
The board then ejected Fred Phelps Sr., who founded the church in the 1950s.
Fred Phelps, Sr. does not appear to have taken the excommunication well:
After Phelps was voted out of Westboro Baptist Church this past summer, he was moved out of the church and into a house, where he was watched to ensure he wouldn't harm himself, Nate Phelps said.
Shirley Phelps-Roper, who in recent years has become almost as famous as Fred himself, apparently did not escape from the dust-up unscathed -- she was ousted as Westboro's official spokesperson. The Capital-Journal reports that calls to Ms. Phelps-Roper are now being answered by Steve Drain, the new spokesman. Drain also maintains that reports of Rev. Phelps's impending death have been greatly exaggerated.
Editorial Comment: Before anyone starts rejoicing about Fred Phelps having some kind of end-of-life change of heart, put away the champagne and look again at the text above. He didn't get kicked out of Westboro for saying that members of his infamously hateful church should be kind to people generally, but that they should be nicer to each other. But apparently, even that tiny concession to basic civility was a bridge too far.
h/t: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement.