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"Most hated man in America" dies aged 84

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
"America's most hated man" Fred Phelps has died
"America's most hated man" Fred Phelps has died

The Rev Fred Phelps Sr, the founder of a US church known for anti-gay protests and pickets at military funerals, has died. He was 84.

Daughter Margie Phelps says Fred Phelps died shortly after midnight on Thursday.

She did not specify the cause of death or the condition that recently put him in hospice care.

Phelps founded the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, though most the small church's members are part of his extended family.

Their activities inspired a federal law on funeral picketing and laws in more than 40 states.

But in a major free-speech ruling in 2011, the US Supreme Court declared the church and its members could not be sued for damages.

Phelps' church preached that deaths of US military personnel were God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

The following clip was taken from a BBC documentary by Louis Theroux, in which he met the Phelps family.