KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thousands 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. The petitions were started after members of Westboro announced plans to protest a Sunday vigil in Newtown, Conn.
After Westboro Baptist Church spokesperson Shirey Phelps-Roper tweeted plans to protest the vigil, “to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgement,” the hacktivist group known as “Anonymous” threatened the church via video. In it, an automated voice says, “We will not allow you to corrupt the minds of America with your seeds of hatred. We will not allow you to inspire aggression to the social faction which you deem inferior. We will render you obsolete. We will destroy you. We are coming.”
In addition to the video, Anonymous hacked Westboro’s website and released personal information about church members including names, street addresses, phone numbers and email addresses according to CNET.
Anonymous didn’t stop there. Using its Twitter account, Anonymous asked its followers to sign a petition that would investigate the IRS tax-exempt status of the church. As stated on the White House website, the petition claims: “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.”
A total of 16,062 signatures are needed before the White House will review the petition. As of noon on Monday, nearly 10,000 people had signed it.