Fred Phelps, the controversial, unstable cult leader who started a hateful organization (they call themselves a “church,” but we will call them an “organization”) that spends 100% of their time spreading the message that “God Hates Fags” died last Wednesday (Mar 19) at the age of 84 years old.

As people weigh in on the death of the Westboro Baptist Church founder, Phelps’ estranged son Nate Phelps has released a statement saying that he will mourn the man his father could have been, had he not become obsessed with publicly protesting homosexuality and the funerals of dead soldiers.

Nate is one of Fred Phelps’ 13 children, and has been a big advocate of atheism and the LGBT community since leaving the Westboro Baptist cult in 1980.

“Unfortunately, Fred’s ideas have not died with him, but live on,” the 55-year-old said in a statement posted on the website Recovering from Religion. “Not just among the members of Westboro Baptist Church, but among the many communities and small minds that refuse to recognize the equality and humanity of our brothers and sisters on this small planet we share.”

Nate Phelps added, “I will mourn his passing, not for the man he was, but for the man he could have been. I deeply mourn the grief and pain felt by my family members denied their right to visit him in his final days. They deserved the right to finally have closure to decades of rejection, and that was stolen from them.”

He continued, “Let his death mean something. Let every mention of his name and of his church be a constant reminder of the tremendous good we are all capable of doing in our communities.”

Fred Phelps had been sick in recent weeks and Nathan posted on Facebook that Fred was dying in a hospice in Topeka, Kansas.

Nathan also revealed that his father had been “ex-communicated” from Westboro last August and pointed out the irony in the way his life was ending:

I’m not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.

I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.

Be the first to receive breaking news alerts and more stories like this by subscribing to our mailing list.