Hacktivist group Anonymous announced it had hacked the website of the extremist Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for picketing the funerals of soldiers and others, following the anti-gay zealots' announcement that they would picket a candlelight vigil for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy that resulted in the deaths of 28 people on Friday.
Anonymous, a loose-knit online collection of hackers and cyber imps, not only shut down the church’s website, but also uploaded a document to file-sharing site Pastebin that contained a cache of personal information regarding many of Westboro’s 100-odd members. The document contained home addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. In at least one case, Anonymous released a social security number.
The Westboro Baptist church uses opportunities like the Connecticut tragedy to push its anti-gay agenda on the public. The group alleges that people such as the 20 children and six school personnel who died Friday do so by the hand of God, in retaliation for the U.S. supporting gay rights.
"Westboro will picket Sandy Hook Elementary School to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment," Shirley Roper-Phelps posted to Twitter on Saturday, implying God had sent the shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, to the school in Newtown.
By Friday, two "White House petitions" had been started. Both aimed to classify Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group. One petition, titled "Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group," had nearly 100,000 signatures by Monday morning. White House petitions that gain more than 25,000 signatures in 30 days must be recognized by the administration.
A second petition with more than 20,000 signatures argued that "The Westboro Baptist Church has surpassed the point of free speech and has crossed into the realm of harassing citizens. They vocally promote hate against every demographic that they are not a part of."
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