(CNN) – An activist group that refers to themselves as “Anonymous” published what it claims to be personal information of members of the Westboro Baptist Church after the group announced on Saturday it would picket Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 children and adults were killed.
According to Mashable, Anonymous published private e-mail addresses, phone numbers and home addresses of several prominent members of the church. In the past, Anonymous posted a video accusing the church, which often protests military funerals and gay pride events, for “breeding hatred” and added, “We will destroy you. We are coming.”
Anonymous’ action comes after even more threats in 2011. A year ago the group insisted the church “cease and desist” all of its protests that year, or face damage to their website.
“The damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover,” Anonymous wrote.
The Westboro Baptist church has made a habit out of vehemently blaming certain demographics for tragedies such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., saying it’s God’s punishment for those groups’ actions.
The group may be forced to stop picketing if several new petitions gain enough traction.
Two White House petitions that were both published Friday aim to classify the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group. “Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group” has more than 72,000 signatures, while another called “Define the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group due to promoting animosity against differing cultural demographics” has garnered 17,000 signatures.
Petitions that gain 25,000 signatures by Jan. 13, 2013 will be viewed by the Obama Administration.
The American Bar Association defines hate speech as “speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.”
Do you think the Westboro Baptist Church is exercising its right to free speech, or does this classify as hate speech? Tell us in the comment section below.