Steve Drain, a University of South Florida alumnus, might be taking over Westboro Baptist Church.
Drain, who used to be an atheist and once set out to expose the hate-mongering church, became enamored with Westboro and became one of Fred Phelps Sr.'s closest disciples.
Drain went so far as to move his family to Topeka, Kansas, to join the congregation.
Phelps Sr.'s son, Nate, however, believes Drain is responsible for having his father excommunicated from Westboro before his death.
According to a story by The Daily Beast, Drain had originally set out to film an anti-Westboro Baptist Church documentary tilted Hatemongers in 2001. The film's intention was to expose WBC's hatred towards gays. But he soon became close to Phelps Sr.
Nate Phelps, meanwhile, escaped the church at age 18 and now works as an LGBT advocate. Nate often updates his Facebook with the WBC's doings.
Nate tells Daily Beast that the move to remove his sister Shirley Phelps-Roper from a leadership role in the church motivated his father, who was in his later years and near death, to try and get the congregation to treat each other more humanely. This, Nate says, is what ultimately forced the Westboro leadership to excommunicate Phelps Sr. Nate believes Drain was at the center of it all.
Phelps Sr., who was a hatemonger despite his call for acceptance within his own church (the man practically invented the term "God hates fags," for crying out loud), died last week at 84.
The report says that when Drain, who hails from Tampa, joined the church, he almost immediately rose up the ranks into Westboro's inner circle. He has since played a major role in producing videos for the church, and is credited for the design of the church's infamous "God Hates" signs.
He most likely was responsible for having his own daughter, Lauren, banished from the church for fraternizing with a man online.
Lauren describes her father as "charismatic and manipulative," and a man "with an almost manic curiosity that resulted in him immersing himself in one passion after another, occasionally to his family's detriment."
The report also tells of the time Drain was arrested in 2001 for allegedly verbally and physically assaulting a 15-year-old boy when he broke the kid's nose by headbutting him in the face three times.
The Daily Beast paints Drain as an obsessive, manipulative, and power hungry man. One who looks very likely to pick up the reigns at Westboro. Which means, the world is not quite yet rid of the most hated people in America.
And, of course, he's from Florida.
Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.
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