‘Zoombombing’ lesson: Racist attack on church highlights online security concerns
Even as her home congregation worships virtually, Nikki Murphy still…
The cyber-intruders accessed the 350-member church’s public service — broadcast via Zoom videoconferencing software — and made racist, threatening statements during the sermon, minister Nick Glenn told The Christian Chronicle.
“We had four to five individuals break into the chat and post hate speech,” said Glenn, who reported the internet attack to the Guilford County sheriff’s office. “They also were able to write derogatory messages and show (pornographic) images that would play on top of the actual worship service broadcast.”
The individuals posted statements littered with racial slurs and calling for the killing of Black people. One comment taunted, “GET OFF CHURCH AND GO PICK YOUR COTTON.” Another proclaimed, “WHITE LIVES MATTER.”
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Sharpe Road church has conducted all its services virtually since March.
Because of playback issues, the church recently split its prerecorded Sunday morning broadcast into separate feeds for Facebook Live and Zoom viewers, Glenn said. As a result, the entire congregation did not witness the attack, but more than 100 members were watching on Zoom, the minister said.
“It’s difficult, and it’s discouraging that we’re at a place like this in 2020.”
Glenn did not realize what was happening until his wife, Nikki, alerted him. The comments were made in rapid-fire fashion about 11:15 a.m. Eastern — 45 minutes into the hour-long broadcast.
“Once we saw what was going on, we stopped the playback and went in and removed the individuals making the comments,” Glenn said. “Then we just picked up where the broadcast stopped.”
He said he has no idea if the individuals involved might be traceable.
“It’s difficult, and it’s discouraging that we’re at a place like this in 2020,” he said. “During these times, we need to be positive, and we need to be unifying. It’s just real discouraging that we have to deal with this type of hatred.”
The church has made its Zoom password public in hopes of attracting seekers to its services. However, Glenn indicated that the congregation might have to rethink that practice.
“It still was a spirit-filled service,” said Glenn, whose message was titled “Everything Is Going to be Alright,” taken from Psalm 37:22-25.
On his personal Facebook page, the minister wrote: “We got the memo a long time ago. You hate us. You think you’re better. You don’t want us here. I want you to get our memo. We love you despite your hatred towards us. You’re not better…. You’re equal. The same God that made you and called you good, is the same God who created me and called me good. FYI, we aren’t going anywhere.”
“We love you despite your hatred towards us. You’re not better…. You’re equal. The same God that made you and called you good, is the same God who created me and called me good.”
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