Anonymous Vows to Render Westboro Baptist Church “Obsolete”

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December 17, 2012; Source: Fox 4-Kansas City, Mo.

The Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), known for anti-gay picketing at the funerals of servicemembers and celebrities, has announced that it will picket a funeral in Newtown, Conn. and the hacktivist group Anonymous has issued a stern warning that it is “coming after” Westboro, threatening the church in a video and hacking its website. As NPQ has recently noted, many gun control advocates have suggested that the horrible killings in Newtown may provide a tipping point for tightening gun control laws. The Newtown incident also has several groups calling for limits on WBC’s protests outside of funerals.

Westboro’s website says it will picket the funeral of Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung on December 19. Members of the group have implied that they are protesting because Connecticut allows gay marriage. “The blood of the Newtown dead is on the hands of every preacher, teacher, parent and leader in Connecticut,” its website says. Anonymous, which has tangled with Westboro before, has threatened the church in a video narrated by what appears to be a computer-simulated voice, which you can see here:

“We will not allow you to corrupt the minds of America with your seeds of hatred,” the narrator of the Anonymous video says. “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.” The hacker group also hacked into the WBC website and released personal information such as names, addresses, and e-mails of its members.

Meanwhile, thousands of people have signed two separate petitions that would classify Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group and strip it of its tax-exempt status. Yesterday, NPQ noted the support of a petition demanding gun control legislation on the White House “We the People” petition site. President Barack Obama has said that any petition that receives 25,000 signatures will receive White House review. As of Wednesday morning, five separate petitions active on the site, either to classify WBC as a hate group or to strip it of its tax-exempt status, had received enough signatures to meet the threshold for review. WBC has faced protests in the past from groups wishing to limits its activities. Several states have restricted it from protesting at funerals, although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Westboro’s First Amendment rights after the father of a soldier objected to the group’s picketing at his son’s funeral. We welcome your thoughts on all of this. –Mary Jo Draper

  • Mia Joiner-Moore

    For years, members of the Westboro Baptist Church have been totally insensitive to the private right to grieve losses in order to promote their outrageous anti-gay messages. It is about time that we public denounce their hateful actions and stand up to this insensitivity. I applaud the actions of Anonymous. I agree that their advocacy actions have stepped over the line to be a tax exempt organization. Thank you for sharing this article.

  • Nikki

    Where is God’s blessed lightening bolts when we need them?

  • Brandt Hardin

    Where in Christianity is hate-mongering an involved practice? What are Fred Phelps and the WBC afraid of anyhow? Rainbows? Unicorns? A flaming pink queer apocalypse? I attempted to address this with a portrait of the good reverend on my artist’s blog at Drop in and let me know what you think!

  • Richard Freedlund

    I am no fan of Westboro Baptist Church, nor their actions protesting at funerals of fallen soldiers who served our country and now the victims of the shooting victims at Newtown, CT, I have to wonder if they have actually read the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    However, I find even more appalling the desire to take away their constitutional rights of free speech set in place by our founding fathers. Each of us has the right to voice our opinions, regardless of how unpopular they may be. When you start taking away the rights of some, you take away the rights of all. It is a slippery slope when you decide what one can say or think. One day, it may be you who has your rights taken away.

  • Mrs.M

    This church makes us Christians look like horrible, hateful people, when really, true Christianity is about love. I do hope that some law passes to stop them from doing what they’re doing.

  • Melinda Holley

    To those who think WBC should be allowed to scream hatred at people under the guise of free speech is obviously ignoring everyone responsibility of free speech. We are reponsible for what we do & say. The old strawman argument of a ‘slippery slope’ is a fallacy and used only to frighten people. Yes, WBC has the right to free speech. They are also responsible for when & where they speak. To do so at funerals is obscene; not free speech. In addition, WBC’s right to free speech does not override my right to not have this figuratively (& perhaps literally) down my throat. If they’re on TV, I can turn it off. If they’re on the internet I can avoid it. However, when I’m a member of a captive audience (funeral, concert, public gathering), I have no choice but to see & hear it. Their rights to not supercede mine and never will. Let them scream their hatred all they want. But they have absolutely NO right to do it where people do not want to see or hear it.

  • jodi lyn

    Are you kidding me?? There is a difference between free speech and spreading crude hate! Give me a break buddy!

  • 10s4me

    I agree that Americans need to tread lightly here. But our guarantee to freedom of speech doesn’t mean you have the freedom to harass or intimidate. It’s a fine line and one we must all take very seriously.

  • 1nf3kt

    [huh-ras-muh nt, har-uh s-muh nt] Show IPA
    the act or an instance of harassing, or disturbing, pestering, or troubling repeatedly; persecution: She sued her boss for sexual harassment.

    This is not free speech.

  • Anna Adams

    Removing this families status as ” tax exempt ” to me, seems a very prudent route. I’ve been privy to the church roster through it being putted on the Internet. There are no members other than the relatives of Fred Phelps. This, my friend, does not make up a church or Donald Trump would be making ” The Church of Trump “, just for the tax status.

    It’s a hate group. As well, gathering in front of mourners to spew their crap should be designated a Hate Crime.

    It’s not about limiting what they say, it’s limiting where they say it.

    Should I have the right to stand in front of your home on a public sidewalk and spew whatever I choose?

    We’ve become profoundly indifferent to the fact that we have a responsibility to not abuse the rights of living in a free country

    I get your point, seriously I do. That being said, to many body bags have come home defending their rights to not have them as citizens act responsibly.

  • disid

    :-@Richard freelund…while I agree all groups should have equal rights to free speech, this particular group crosses the line by intruding and imposing on private ceremonies. I hate what they stand for, but would normally agree they have the right to free speech too. not when they cross that line though. they use legal tactics to spew hate messages and that equals harassment, not free speech.

  • Eric

    WTF??? What is more appalling than ppl being as disrespectfull and distateful as is humanly possible, taunting the parents and siblings of slain little kids at their funeral?? the ppl who want to prevent such behavior!! How dare you voice opposition and attempt to prevent such behavior!! Really?? Idiot…,liar, you are obviously a fan, at least of the message!!! Hope you and everybody you love dies in a fire , A$$hole

  • Michael Rafferty

    The WBC protested at my son’s high school graduation in 2005. The news of the group’s intent riled up the community, as I am sure the WBC hoped, but the actual protest was such a pathetic display of ignorance conducted by a tiny band of yokels that it became a comic sideshow.

    If these misfits can be properly charged with any crimes (child endangerment comes to mind, as they usually have young children with them), then by all means, drop the hammer on them. Otherwise, they are not worth a serious conversation about the First Amendment.

    At the moment, the Anonymous movement seems more alarming. One man’s vigilante is another man’s terrorist.