Virtual Easter Sunday service hacked; culprits spew racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic speech

Amanda del Castillo Image
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Hackers infiltrate virtual Easter service with racist rant
A portion of an Easter Morning worship service that was being live-streamed over Zoom, was infiltrated by people spewing racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic slurs.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A portion of an Easter Morning worship service that was being live-streamed over Zoom, was infiltrated by people spewing racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic slurs.

The Senior Pastor at Grace Baptist Church (GBC) in San Jose told ABC7 News, he believes the five minute-tirade took aim at him.

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After censoring the obscene language, ABC7 viewers will notice the dozens of "beeps" throughout the Zoom recording. Each covers a barrage of profanities heard in real-time by those attending Easter Sunday worship service.

"F*** the f*****g Jews, man. Send Jews to the concentration camp and gas all the f*****g stinky Jews," one of the hackers is heard saying.

"They had a purpose. This church hires a gay, Black pastor... They come and spew profanity about Black people and LGBTQ persons," Reverend George Oliver said. "And on the last day of Passover, talk about gassing Jews? So, I don't think this is some kind of coincidence."

Reverend Oliver started as Senior Pastor on March 1. He said he recognizes Grace Baptist as the most progressive church in the city, which he understands has made it prone to criticism.

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However, he admitted, "This was not an ordinary day for us. We're not an ordinary church, and this wasn't an ordinary attack."

"To have someone come in and say the n-word more than 40 times, in five minutes is something that's just... It's beyond belief," he explained. "And in some ways, I don't believe it."

Oliver said it's also tough to grasp what harm this might have on a congregation still healing after November's deadly stabbing. In that attack, two people were killed and three others were injured.

"This is not a harm that people recognize because it doesn't leave a trail of blood," Rev. Oliver shared. "But it leaves a trail of hurting people that were already hurt to start with."

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About Sunday's Zoom hack, he said, "It was vile and repugnant. Not only was it Easter, which is the highest of holidays for the Christians, it was the last day of Passover. It was also the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated."

Oliver explained that he is a 7th-generation Texan, and added, "I've heard all of these stereotypes, but not all at once."

"These were people who had harbored ill will towards African Americans, Jews, LatinX people and others in our community," he continued. "And the LGBTQ community especially."

"F*** f*****s, f*** t******s. I could stick a screwdriver up a n*****s a**," the hackers said during the live-stream.

Now Oliver is calling on Zoom to better monitor its platform.

"Zoom has to understand that the abuse of their platform has to be managed, and the people who are doing this, have to be removed from that platform," he said.

ABC7 News reached out to Zoom. A company spokesperson replied with the following statement:

"We have been deeply upset to hear about these types of incidents, and Zoom strongly condemns such behavior. We have recently updated a number of default settings and added features to help hosts more easily access in-meeting security controls, including controlling screen sharing, removing and reporting participants, and locking meetings, among other actions. We have also been educating users on security best practices for setting up their meetings, including recommending that users avoid sharing private meeting links and passwords publicly on websites, social media, or other public forums, and encouraging anyone hosting large-scale or public events to utilize Zoom's webinar solution. We are committed to maintaining an equal, respectful and inclusive online environment for all our users. We take meeting disruptions extremely seriously and where appropriate, we work closely with law enforcement authorities. We encourage users to report any incidents of this kind to Zoom and law enforcement authorities so the appropriate action can be taken against offenders."

Rev. Oliver will lead a press conference in the church sanctuary at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7.

While Sunday's attack was virtual, Oliver said Grace Baptist is now fundraising for physical, on-site security.

For a link to the GoFundMe campaign, click here.