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Hackers reverse message on anti-gay Web site

hacked site screen grab
A screen grab of the hacked site

message board MESSAGE BOARDS:
Hate Online

How do you define a hacker?


August 19, 1999
Web posted at: 5:22 p.m. EDT (2122 GMT)

By Robin Lloyd
CNN Interactive Senior Writer

(CNN) -- Hackers switched the message from hate to love on a notorious anti-gay site on the Internet.

A 2-year-old Web site put up by Pastor Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, was hacked Wednesday to re-route visitors to, featuring a pink and purple pro-gay banner, links to gay news Web sites and a quote from Ellen DeGeneres.

"Hate will not be tolerated on the Internet," said Kris Haight on Thursday. Haight says he registered the domain name for the pro-gay site more than a year ago and gave the OK for the re-routing within the past two days.

"Phelps teaches hate and a lot of it is untrue. People who go to their site and want to find hate aren't going to find it, at least until he gets the domain back."

The pro-gay site, usually visited daily by only a handful of people, got 8,000 hits in the past 24 hours, Haight said. The pages were written by Rich Macky of Omaha, Nebraska, Haight said. The switch did not show up on all computers Thursday as it takes time for the re-routing to take effect on servers worldwide.

Phelps' daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, said the hack is just one of more than a dozen tricks played on the church's Web site in the past two years.

"No, my dear, it's not all that drastic," she told CNN Interactive. "It's just another fag ploy to try to bury the truth of God and the Earth. It's a temporary inconvenience."

Phelps-Roper, who also serves as the church's attorney, said it would take a couple days of paperwork on her end to correct the re-routing.

Fred Phelps, whose congregation regularly engages in anti-homosexual picketing, demonstrated at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay man who was savagely beaten to death in a Wyoming hate crime.

Hacker hit DNS

Haight said he didn't know who originated the hack, which involves re-routing visitors via the Domain Name System, a network of servers which translates alphabetic domain names into numeric IP, or Internet Protocol, addresses.

Haight, a 22-year-old gay man living in Newport, New Hampshire, said he registered the pro-gay domain name a year or so ago when he found out about Phelps site, which he says he found disgusting.

He recently received an anonymous e-mail advising him to watch the Internet contact information for his site.

Wednesday, Haight got a chance to change that information. "I set up the server to point godhatesfags to godlovesfags," he said.

Later, he received another e-mail saying the address swap worked.

Haight is part of a group of Internet denizens known as Mindsprung, a play on the popular Internet service provider Mindspring. Haight owns domain names for a couple other Web sites, including, an IRC chat discussion page.

Phelps-Roper said the 100-member church has been forced to switch servers a few times due to all the digital attacks on the site. The church sponsors another Web site --

"We're busy people, not thwarted or detracted by one more assault on our ministry," she said. "It's like 'ho hum.'"

Hackers, IT consultants embrace free security tool
August 13, 1999
Hillary gets hacked
July 22, 1999
Religion trumps porn in Web popularity
June 30, 1999
Hate group Web sites on the rise
February 23, 1999
Suspect pleads guilty in beating death of gay college student
April 5, 1999
New details emerge about suspects in gay attack
October 13, 1998

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