Anonymous hackers are attempting to "destroy" the Westboro Baptist Church, after the protest group said it would picket Sandy Hook Elementary School "to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment".
The Westboro Baptist Church is a widely reviled American quasi-religious sect, which has in the past picketed the funerals of dead soldiers. While its aims are unclear, its message is usually based on religious doctrine and its tactics are deliberately offensive and provocative.
But when on Saturday its spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper said that her group would protest and disrupt a vigil to be held for the victims of Friday's massacre, 20 of which were between six and seven years old, Anonymous stepped in.
An offshoot of the hacking collective said it would "execute an agenda of action" to dismantle the institution under the name #OpWestBoro.
Within hours the group had posted the names, addresses, phone numbers and credit card information of the church's members and hacked many of its websites:
The Twitter account of Shirley Phelps-Roper was also hacked, and its background switched to the message "Pray For Newtown".
Anonymous said it would continue its campaign until the church was destroyed.
In a video post, it said:
We have seen your depraved methods of disseminating your message of hate throughout The United States of America.. Your pseudo-faith is abhorrent, and your leaders, repugnant. Your impact and cause is hazardous to the lives of millions and you fail to see the wrong in promoting the deaths of innocent people. You are self-appointed servants of God who rewrite the words of His sacred scripture to adhere to your prejudice. Your hatred supersedes your faith, and you use faith to promote your hatred.
Since your one-dimensional thought protocol will conform not to any modern logic, we will not debate, argue, or attempt to reason with you.
Instead, we have unanimously deemed your organization to be harmful to the population of The United States of America, and have therefore decided to execute an agenda of action which will progressively dismantle your institution of deceitful pretext and extreme bias.
Anonymous is also asking its followers to sign a petition calling for the US government to revoke the church's tax-exempt status. The petition currently has more than 100,000 signatures.