Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps died shortly before midnight on March 19. Perhaps not coincidentally, the following day marked this year’s International Day of Happiness. It’s preferable to forget such embarrassments to humanity, but it won’t be so easy for the many people he has outraged and caused harm to such as friends and family members at the funerals he picketed because the deceased happened to be gay. Minorities, immigrants, celebrities and church leaders with more tolerant outlooks were also targets of his wrath. According to the Washington Post, the views of Phelps and his congregation were even too offensive for the Ku Klux Klan, who staged protests to counter WBC’s demonstrations at military funerals. If Phelp’s life is remembered for anything may it be as a prime example of how not to treat people and a cautionary reminder of the dangers of religious extremism.
To understand what Phelps and his church were all about just visit their official site. But if you can’t stomach their hatred, Patton Oswalt describes them pretty well in this 2007 article from Spin magazine: http://www.spin.com/articles/fred-phelps-patton-oswalt-essay-death-takedown-2007/
Though Westboro Baptist Church is widely regarded as a “family-based cult” there have been questions about whether it’s also a scam: http://technoccult.net/archives/2011/01/13/the-westboro-baptist-church-is-a-scam/