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dogemperor [userpic]
American Family Association launches DDoS on Philadelphia city mail system?

There has been a *very* interesting thread on SPAM-L, a mailinglist dedicated to fighting network abuse, regarding an American Family Association astroturfing campaign which ended up launching a distributed denial of service attack against the City of Philadelphia's email servers--specifically as a method of protesting Philadelphia's announcement they will charge the Boy Scouts local council rent for use of city meeting facilities (the city allows nonprofits otherwise in compliance with city laws to use facilities, but the city's Fairness ordinance also explicitly prohibits giving this treatment to groups that discriminate against others on the basis of religion or sexual orientation--both of which the BSA does).

The chaos seems to have started on October 24, when the mail system was brought to a screeching halt:
Part one: Mailbombing via astroturfing )

Where this gets of particular interest to Dark Christianity is that the massive mailbombing of City of Philadelphia aldermen seems to have been the result of an astroturfing campaign by the AFA of Pennsylvania--the same group who formerly had Michael Marcavage as its head (and whose group Repent America essentially originated as a lobbying wing/sister org of AFA-PA, in much the same manner of relationship of Freedom's Heritage Forum, AFA-KY, and Frank Simon); Marcavage is known, among other things, for ongoing campaigns to disrupt "Gay Day" held by the Philadelphia Phillies.

And the AFA-PA seems to have coordinated with the national AFA to launch the astroturfing--one which resulted in the sending over 300,000 nearly identical emails including nearly 120,000 from one individual and nearly 200,000 from the AFA itself (which managed to trip the spam filters):
Part 2: AFA linked to mailbombing-by-proxy )

A third newspaper article--now apparently revised, but the original version of which was published on SPAM-L--implicates AFA even more decisively:

COMPUTER ATTACK: The American Family Association of Tupelo, MS, headed by United Methodist clergyman Donald Wildmon, was apparently behind an Oct. 20-22 email barrage that nearly crashed the City of Philadelphia's computer system, according to the Philadelphia Bulletin.

City computers were hit by some 300,000 e-mails, most of which were traced back to the AFA computer system, said Terry Phillis, the city's technology director. Almost all of the emails supported the local Boy Scouts' Cradle of Liberty Council. Philadelphia officials have directed the Boy Scouts to comply with the city's non-discrimination policy by renouncing the National Boy Scouts' stance against accepting openly
gay members, or lose their right to use city-owned facilities. AFA representatives refused to comment on the attack.

Of note--whilst this is one of the first documented cases of astroturfing that crosses the line to a distributed denial of service attack in the email sense--this is neither the first DDoS nor the first astroturfing/"letterspamming" by a dominionist group. Calvary Chapel (and something like eight separate front companies) became positively infamous for app-spamming for "distant translator" applications to such a degree that the FCC has had to put a freeze on all new applications while it sorts out the over 13,000 apps that Calvary Chapel-linked groups put in (in some cases, involving multiple frontgroups simultaneously putting in multiple applications for distant translators of radio stations that were receiving the *same* feed through Calvary Satellite Network); another example of "letter-bombing" of this sort is the Parent's Television Council, a dominionist pro-censorship group known to be behind literally 99.9 percent of indecency complaints to the FCC (some for things as innocuous as someone saying "damn" before the watershed hour, or women in bikinis).

There is quite the active debate going on at SPAM-L on whether this sort of behaviour should be considered a bona fide form of network abuse (so far, the consensus is trending towards "yes"; there is precedent for this, including "make money fast" and 419 scams being considered a special type of spam (aka "the same thing lots and lots of times"), and deliberate attempts at automated trolling (for example, Hipcrime on Usenet) have also set a precedent for considering this abusive).

At least one commentator has even noted that there is a possibility AFA could be liable under federal laws prohibiting denial of service (via perhaps a novel interpretation of computer crimes laws as well as laws prohibiting incitement to riot; as the poster noted, "Incitement to commit actions which amount to DoS is likely enough for the movers and shakers to be indicted") and has noted a potential precedent used in a different "incitement to DDoS" case (namely, that of Colin Francis McCrae, who attempted a similar extortion DDoS against a UK county police department). Very interestingly to me, much of the discussion is explicitly taking into account the history of astroturfing by dominionist groups in general and noting that this tactic is being used *precisely* because of its abusiveness.

A minor historical note: Just because there's a lively discussion on what is being considered as "religiospam" by the net.abuse community doesn't mean that this is the first religious spam.

Far from it.

In fact, the first recorded large Usenet spam (aside from variants of "Make Money Fast", which have been ongoing pretty much continuously since 1988 or so, and a few smaller spams; the first organised Usenet spam seems to have been a variant of the 419 schemes that plague email nowadays dating from 1988, and the first known email spam dated back from 1978 from the now-borged-into-HP Digital Computers (this was, in fact, so long ago that Internet sites did not yet have .com/.net/.org addresses, still using NCP rather than TCP/IP which was still in development; the changeover to TCP/IP for the Internet would not occur until the mid-80s, and Usenet did not yet exist) was in fact a religiospam of the sort that should be very familiar to most of the readers here.

The first documented "big" Usenet spam was a largescale spam sent to practically the entire Usenet of the time--6000+ separate discussion forums--claiming that the Rapture was imminent (Clarence Thomas IV--no relation to the Supreme Court Justice--was an employee of a Seventh Day Adventist college who was fired after the incident). The spam--which is actually in part archived--was interesting in part because it contained many claims that sound much more like Assemblies theology than Seventh Day Adventist--among other things, the claim that the US had gone away from "God's Constitution" as noted in Exodus, a heavy promotion of "spiritual warfare" theology of the neopente sort (and claims straight out of Hal Lindsey's "The Late, Great Planet Earth"), and ending up with posting the (Protestant) version of the Ten Commandments as "God's Constitution"--very interestingly and eerily similar to claims made by folks promoting Roy Moore's political campaigns, among others. (In retrospect, I have to wonder of Thomas was part of either a group attempting to steeplejack the Seventh-Day Adventists or had been recruited by dominionists; the SDA has actually been surprisingly vocal (for a conservative evangelical Christian group) in protesting the "America is a Christian Nation" historical revisionism promoted by Wallbuilders et al.)

dogemperor [userpic]
Roots of fundementalism date from 15th Century


A Harvard University professor has found that the English Reformation spurred a Fundementalist approach to Bible reading.

The English Reformation — heyday of religious change — spurred a fundamentalist approach to Bible reading, according to new research by a Harvard professor.

“Evangelical reading habits after 1525 were disciplinary, punishing, and even demeaning,” says James Simpson, Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

In 1525, protestant reformer William Tyndale translated the Bible into early modern English. Scholars have widely hailed that moment as a liberating step for the literate public, who could suddenly read the Bible on their own terms — without the constraints of priestly interpretation.

Simpson disagrees.

“The 16th century moment was not the foundation of liberalism, as many historians have maintained, but rather the foundation of fundamentalism,” he says. “Anyone who wants to understand how fundamentalism is a product of the modern era must look to its birth in the 16th century.”

Tracing the history of biblical translations between 1525 and 1547, or from Tyndale to the death of Henry VIII, Simpson argues that reading in this era became a program of punishment that left believers “persecuted and paranoid.”

“Evangelicals did not believe that you could be saved through good works, so they looked for signs that the decision had gone their way,” Simpson says. “Reading became the locus for salvation or damnation. It was an intense experience in which your eternal fate would be decided.”

And here is religion scholar Karen Armstrong talking about her 'biography' of the Bible. She places it in a much different light than the Fundementalists do:

Because scripture has become such an explosive issue, it is important to be clear what it is and what it is not. This biography of the Bible provides some insight into this religious phenomenon. It is, for example, crucial to note that an exclusively literal interpretation of the Bible is a recent development. Until the nineteenth century, very few people imagined that the first chapter of Genesis was a factual account of the origins of life. For centuries, Jews and Christians relished highly allegorical and inventive exegesis, insisting that a wholly literal reading of the Bible was neither possible nor desirable. They have rewritten biblical history, replaced Bible stories with new myths, and interpreted the first chapter of Genesis in surprisingly different ways.

dogemperor [userpic]
Huckabee defends Copeland

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]pretentioustfu)


Cut for article text )

Verrry interesting. So Huckabee has ties to the Copeland empire, which seems to be under investigation right now. I'm very interested in where this goes, how deep the rabbit hole is.

Current Mood: curious
Current Music: Hide - Rocket Dive
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