Wikinews has learned that according to an internet posting made just over 24 hours ago, the Church of Scientology's website is being attacked by hackers, causing the site to shut down.
The attack was launched on Wednesday by a user calling himself "Anonymous", on the website "Project Chanology". The "History" section of the site explains, in a satirical fashion, that the incident was prompted by the Church of Scientology's attempts to remove a promotional video featuring Scientologist Tom Cruise from YouTube. Though YouTube is complying with the Church of Scientology's requests to take down the video, other sites such as Gawker.com have stated that they will keep hosting the video.
Writing in a blog post, Matthew Ingram of The Globe and Mail dubbed the ongoing conflict involving the Church of Scientology's attempts to remove the Cruise video from the Internet: "Scientology vs. the Internet, part XVII". He characterized the conflict between the Church of Scientology and anonymous posters of the Cruise video as "another small skirmish in a war that Scientology has been waging for almost 15 years, since the early days of newsgroups such as alt.religion.scientology , which posted internal church documents in 1994. Lawsuits have been filed, mailing lists have been shut down, homes of discussion group participants have been raided and their computers seized -- an all-out war."
One poster admitted to being a part of the effort, writing in a blog post "I have myself, as per instructions, loaded up Gigaloader and started bombarding the Scientology homepage. Theres [sic] something in the hilarious anarchy of the net that produces these 'events' every now and again." The poster wrote that "Prompted I think by the Tom Cruise video, a new obsession is taking hold on the internet."
"Someone emailed me earlier today talking about a tool a group's been using to attack the scientology website. It's an interesting tool, created to overload/create malformed strings and crash a website's database," said the post by an unknown author on pigmy.
The Church's website is currently unreachable. Some individuals report that when they are able to reach the site, all they get is a message stating, "The word scientology means search for truth".
Posts on the message board for the Scientology-critic site Operation Clambake from Friday theorized that a denial-of-service attack had occurred, and wrote that as of Friday the Scientology.org site was either not loading at all, or loading very slowly. Critics of Scientology at the Internet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology were critical of the attacks to the Church of Scientology website, with one poster writing "How can people look at both sides if one side is gone?"
Traffic to the Scientology website had already increased 18-fold prior to the attack, following increased attention after the Tom Cruise video appeared on the Internet. Wikinews reported on this story in "Tom Cruise Scientology promotional video leaked to the Internet". At that time, one in three visits to the site came from BBC News, and the website increased to number 3 in the company Hitwise UK's Lifestyle-Religion category.