Disgusted by Westboro Baptist’s plans to picket a vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the hacker collective is waging a cyber war against the hate-mongering religious group. The Topeka, Kan.-based church has announced its plan to come to Connecticut to protest memorials and funerals over the state’s 2008 legalization of gay marriage.
Anonymous, which has previously targeted the Websites of NATO and the Church of Scientology, says it has taken down Westboro’s atrociously named site, godhatesfags.com, and posted the phone numbers and residential addresses of church members. The hacker collective also announced on their Twitter feed that they are in possession of members’ social security numbers and have filed for a death certificate for Shirley Phelps-Roper, the spokeswoman of the church, Ars Technica reports. “We will not allow you to corrupt the minds of America with your seeds of hatred,” they said in a video posted online. “…We will render you obsolete. We will destroy you. We are coming.”
Others have since joined the cyber war, including hacker @cosmothegod, who hacked Phelps-Roper’s Twitter account overnight, changing her background picture to ‘Prayer for Newtown’ and posting photos of Phelps-Roper’s phone bill and email account. The hacker also tweeted a link to the White House’s online petition site, where nearly 172,000 have signed the petition to list the church as a hate group, according to CNET News. Many have expressed their appreciation for the hacker’s work:
Westboro Baptist Church has made many enemies thanks in large part to its practice of demonstrating at the funerals of of U.S. soldiers, AIDS patients and celebrities — whose deaths, according to the church, are punishments from God. Though many find the church’s hateful and homophobic stances offensive, the group won a 2011 Supreme Court case for its First Amendment right to protest at military funerals.
Those affected have found ways to peacefully protest the group’s actions. In 2010, students at Henry M. Gunn High School drowned out the Kansas church’s anti-gay slur with singing when the church picketed near the school for its tolerance of homosexuality, Slate reports. In 2012, when the church arrived in Columbia, Missouri, to picket the funeral service of a solider, thousands of the townspeople showed up in red t-shirts to build a “love wall” around the protestors, blocking their presence and their signs of “God hates fags” and “America is doomed.”