Hackers target Westboro Baptist Church over plans to picket shooting site

The Kansas-based church had its website and Twitter accounts hacked, and an online petition asks the Obama administration to officially declare it a hate group.

The Westboro Baptist Church, known for picketing the funerals of U.S. soldiers to protest homosexuality, was met with reprisal from the online hacking collective Anonymous when the church threatened to picket at the Connecticut school where 20 children and six adults were shot and killed on Dec. 14.

Westboro spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper tweeted Saturday — a day after the shooting — that the church would march outside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown “to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment.”

The Kansas-based church claims tragedies like the Newtown massacre and the July mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater are caused by permissiveness toward homosexuality.

Later Saturday, Anonymous responded in the form of a video vowing to “execute an agenda of action” against Westboro that would “progressively dismantle your institution of deceitful pretext and extreme bias, and cease when your zealotry runs dry.”

“We will not allow you to corrupt the minds of America with your seeds of hatred,” the video statement continued. “We will not allow you to inspire aggression to the social factions which you deem inferior. We will render you obsolete. We will destroy you. We are coming.”

On Monday, the Westboro Baptist Church website was apparently disabled and a hacker took over Phelps-Roper’s Twitter account.

The hacker, known as “Cosmo the God,” used the account to taunt the church and link to a petition on the White House website that asks the Obama administration to legally recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.

The church — which is already monitored as a hate group by watchdogs like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League — poses “a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation,” the petition says. As of Monday afternoon it had more than 120,000 signatures.

Hackers from Anonymous also posted the home addresses and phone numbers of Westboro members, including church founder Fred Phelps Sr.

“I've never heard of Anonymous, but somehow they got our personal info,” Fred Phelps tweeted Monday. “That is OUR info, not yours to give out! God will deliver us.”

Funerals for the young victims of the Sandy Hook shooting began Monday. No protests outside the services or at the school have been reported.


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