New Yorkers talk about the death of Fred Phelps, founder of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church.

A Florida man who's long been involved with the Westboro Baptist Church and was a close disciple of the church's late founder may be poised to be the church's next leader, according to The Daily Beast.

Steve Drain, a University of South Florida alumnus from Tampa and former atheist, set out in 2001 to study the members of WBC as part of his documentary "Hatemongers." Instead of exposing the group's homophobia like he originally intended, he ended up becoming enamored with the church and moved his family to Topeka, Kansas that same year to join the congregation.

Nate Phelps, son of WBC's late founder Fred Phelps Sr., told The Daily Beast that he believes Drain is responsible for Phelps Sr.'s excommunication from the church before his death. Nate Phelps escaped the church at age 18 and now works as an LGBT advocate, but he keeps tabs on the congregation and its inner workings. 

Drain and other members of WBC wouldn't comment for The Daily Beast's story, so whether or not Drain will actually take over the church is still to be determined. Based on interviews and research done during its investigation, The Daily Beast is calling Drain "the future of Westboro Baptist Church."


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After he joined the congregation, Drain quickly made his way into the church's inner circle and has been active in its media relations and producing video segments on Westboro's website. He's also responsible for the church's signature "God hates..." signs.

Click here to read more on this story at TheDailyBeast.com.