MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow argued on Friday that the anti-gay rhetoric of Westboro Baptist Church, and its notorious leader Fred Phelps, aided the gay rights movement by offending mainstream Americans.

Phelps, who founded the Topeka, Kansas-based church in the 1950s, died on Thursday at the age of 84.

(Related: Anti-gay activist Fred Phelps dead at 84.)

“Westboro Baptist Church became an object of national fascination and revulsion when the man who is basically the cult leader for this extended family pseudo religious compound in Kansas decided in about 1991 that the way he should spread his particular version of the gospel was by trying very hard to upset people, by trolling the country essentially,” Maddow told viewers.

“And their message was very simple. They just hated gay people. They cited biblical justification for hating gay people. They wished all gay people were dead. They thought that anybody that didn't hate gay people as much as they did were essentially aiding and abiding the terrible moral crime of homosexuality and was equally damnable because of it.”

Maddow, who is openly gay, argued that the church's ardent homophobia offended mainstream Americans and “indirectly caused a lot of good works out of our own human revulsion of their cruelty.”

(Watch the entire segment at MSNBC.)