The Westboro Baptist Church is notorious for making incendiary comments about national tragedies, which they often purport to be punishments from God for alleged sins committed by humanity. The tornado in Oklahoma last week was no exception.
Fred Phelps Jr., the son of the WBC’s minister, made a public statement on his Twitter account that the devastation was humanity's punishment for the public support shown to Jason Collins, an NBA player who recently came out of the closet.
And to drive that message home, the church erected a new website just a day after the tornado struck, titled GodHatesOklahoma.com, an obvious nod to their hallmark signage at protests, which usually reads, “God Hates F*gs.”
But at least one long-standing critic of the congregation had enough. A hacktivist who goes by the name of Jester reportedly hacked the church’s newly-erected website, altering its content and turning it into a donation page for victims of the Oklahoma tornado.
The site has since been disabled, but according to reports, Jester modified its home page with some particularly colorful criticisms of the Westboro Baptist Church, under which was written:
“On the 8th day, God created hackers, and he saw that it was good.' From the Gospel according to @th3j35t3r. Redirecting in 5 seconds…….”
The redirect took viewers to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund donation page.
Jester, whose Twitter handle is @th3j35t3r, is a self-described, “Hacktivist for good and professional pitier of fools.” After the site was taken down, the hacker tweeted out a cached page of it.
— JΞSTΞR™(@th3j35t3r) May 23, 2013
This isn’t the first time the WBC has been the target of hacktivist activities. In December, multiple Twitter feeds and sites related to the group were taken over by various collectives incensed that the organization threatened to picket the funerals of Newtown victims.
Westboro may continue to be a magnet for online attacks, but it's far from the only group to find itself a target. Collectives like UG Nazi, have claimed responsibility for taking down the CIA website as a protest against censorship, while its prolific counterpart, Anonymous, have previously taken credit for hacking websites belonging to Monsanto, the LAPD, and North Korea, among others.
The social change incurred by hacktivist activities has yet to be quantified. But at least in Jester's case, those actions serve to let Oklahoma residents know they're not alone: Turning a site based on hatred into one based on help may for now be change enough.
Are you in favor of hacktivism as a form of social protest, or do you think it's an infringement on organization's rights? Let us know in the Comments.