Anonymous Targets Westboro Baptist Church After Newtown Vigil Protest Threat

12/17/2012 09:31 am ET | Updated Dec 18, 2012

Members of the hacktivist group Anonymous have targeted the Westboro Baptist Church after the hate-mongering, quasi-religious group announced plans to protest a Sunday night vigil in remembrance of the Sandy Hook shooting victims, 20 of whom were just 6 and 7 years old.

On Saturday, Westboro Baptist Church spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper tweeted that the group would be protesting the vigil in Newtown, Conn., to "sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment."

Anonymous apparently vowed retaliation as part of #OpWestBor in a video posted to Vimeo under the handle KY Anonymous. "We will not allow you to corrupt the minds of America with your seeds of hatred," says the voice-over in the video. "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 Sunday, Anonymous posted to Pastebin a list of data that it claimed belonged to Westboro members. The data included names, street addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, according to CNET.

The move was announced on @YourAnonNews, the collective's main mouthpiece on Twitter.

Phelps-Roper's Twitter was also hacked and the Westboro Baptist Church's website was taken down. Anonymous claimed responsibility for both via the @YourAnonNews account.

@YourAnonNews is also asking followers to sign a petition against Westboro's tax-exempt status. Because of its status as a religious entity, the Westboro Baptist Church is able to avoid paying taxes.

A post on the White House's "We the People" online petition forum explains the petition:

"The Westboro Baptist Church is better-known for homophobic displays, suing people and picketing funerals than for providing Christian care to a community. Due to their harassment and politicking, their IRS tax-exempt status should be immediately investigated."

Another petition wants Westboro to be recognized not as a religious group, but as a hate group.

Anonymous was not the only group that fought back against Westboro over the weekend. Reddit users announced plans to travel to Newtown to create “a silent blockade during the funeral processions" to hinder any possible Westboro Baptist Church protests, according to a CT News blog post.

The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church is best known for picketing the funerals of U.S. soldiers and AIDS victims, because of its anti-gay stance. The group also planned to picket the funerals of victims of the Tucson, Ariz., shooting and the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funerals of Arizona and Aurora victims, but the group only threatened to do so.

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