(Photo: Reuters/Susana Vera)
Members claiming to be part of the formless Internet hacker group "Anonymous" took down three church websites on March 2, replacing their main pages with a clip from evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins and posting a statement that branded all religion as a "sickness."
"Let us be clear from the start: any kind of religion is a sickness to this world. A sickness that creates hate and intolerance, a sickness that brings people to wage war on their fellow people, a sickness that has come to this world long time ago, when mankind wasn't educated, a sickness that brought false hope and suppression to those who believed and often even more terror and suppression to those who dared not to believe," the message by Anonymous begins and continues to accuse religion and Christianity as being a source for most of the wars that have occurred throughout history.
It also identifies religion, along with the world's governments, as being the main source of oppression and a force that keeps most people down while giving power to the select few.
It is difficult to ascertain if the attackers really were from the Anonymous group, who have no recognized form of leadership and do not adhere to a membership code of conduct. The group has previously shut down the FBI and Recording Industry Association of America websites in support of content-pirating websites, such as The Pirate Bay, and have been a driving force behind the "Occupy" movement.
A 30-minute long YouTube video, "Richard Dawkins: An Atheist's Call to Arms," was posted on the websites of Bethel Outreach International Church, Charlotte International Church, and Crossfire Ministries, all from North Carolina but seemingly chosen at random, in which Dawkins encourages non-believers to unite and stick up for their belief.
Anonymous dOes have a Twitter account, however, which has over 276,783 followers, and it announced the church attack in a tweet on Friday that read: "HACKED Reason:religious idiocy and foh dah lulz #Anonymous #AntiSec #OWS #ROOTED #DAWKINS."
Last week, Anonymous also declared war on America in a YouTube video, in which it called on U.S. citizens to rise up against the government. There have been no reports of a response to the call for action so far.