Faithful Word Baptist Church
|Founded||December 25, 2005|
|Founder||Steven Anderson, Pastor|
Faithful Word Baptist Church is a fundamentalist Independent Baptist church in Tempe, Arizona, in the United States founded by Pastor Steven Anderson. The church describes itself as "an old-fashioned, independent, fundamental, King James Bible only, soul-winning Baptist church." Members of the church meet in an office space located in a strip mall. Anderson established the church in December 2005 and remains its pastor.
In August 2009, the church received national attention when Anderson stated in a sermon that he was praying for the death of then-President Barack Obama. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) listed Faithful Word Baptist Church as an anti-gay hate group, citing its pastor's "extremely radical stance" that homosexuals, if judged according to the Law of Moses, should be put to death.
The Faithful Word Baptist Church's doctrinal statement is posted on its website. The church believes that the King James Bible is the inspired Word of God and is without error. The church also believes in the post-tribulation rapture, salvation by grace through faith, eternal salvation through Jesus Christ and eternal torment in hell for the unsaved. Among the church's beliefs are the view that life begins at conception, that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination which God punishes with the death penalty, and opposition to worldliness, formalism, modernism and liberalism.
In March 2015, Anderson published a documentary called Marching to Zion, in which he argued that the anticipated Jewish messiah is the Antichrist, and that the Talmud is blasphemous. In May 2015, Anderson created a YouTube video promoting Holocaust denial.
Steven L. Anderson established the church on Christmas Day (December 25). The church's website states: "Faithful Word Baptist Church is a totally independent Baptist church, and Pastor Anderson was sent out by a totally independent Baptist church to start it the old-fashioned way by knocking doors and winning souls to Christ." About a year and a half later the church was moved to a strip mall that was also used by Anderson's fire alarm installation business, as well. When questioned about the relationship between the for-profit business and the not-for-profit church in 2009, Anderson responded angrily. In 2015, the congregation numbered around 150 parishioners.
Border Patrol checkpoint incident
Anderson made national news following a confrontation with United States Border Patrol agents at an interior checkpoint on Interstate 8, about 70 miles east of Yuma, Arizona. A police dog gave an alert on sniffing Anderson's car, and Anderson refused to move his car or roll down his windows, triggering a 90-minute standoff and the calling of Arizona Department of Public Safety officers to the scene. The confrontation ended when authorities broke Anderson's car windows and forced him to the ground. Anderson asserts that authorities beat him and shocked him repeatedly with a Taser while he was lying prone on the ground.
National attention over sermon on President Obama
The church received national attention in the United States in August 2009, when Anderson reportedly gave a sermon—entitled "Why I Hate Barack Obama"—in which he said that he prayed for the death of the president.
Anderson did not solicit the killing of the President but he did suggest that the country would "benefit" from Obama's death. Anderson also told local television station KNXV-TV that he would like it if Obama were to die of natural causes, because he does not "want him to be a martyr" and because "we don't need another holiday." Anderson told columnist Michelangelo Signorile that he "would not judge or condemn" anyone who killed the president.
Anderson's invective against Obama stems in part from Anderson's opposition to Obama's support for abortion rights. Anderson then was the recipient of death threats while a group, People Against Clergy Who Preach Hate, organized a "love rally" which was attended by approximately a hundred people outside the church.
The day after Anderson delivered his "Why I Hate Barack Obama" sermon, one of his parishioners, Chris Broughton, carried an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and a pistol to the Phoenix Convention Center, where President Obama was speaking. Broughton explained that he was not motivated by the sermon although he agreed with it. The New Mexico Independent reported that Broughton's appearance at the rally was part of a publicity stunt organized by conservative radio talk show host Ernest Hancock, who also came to the rally armed, and engaged in a staged interview with Broughton which was later broadcast on YouTube. Anderson told ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV in Phoenix that the Secret Service contacted him after this event.
Anti-gay comments and hate group designation
The SPLC has listed the church as an anti-gay hate group, noting that Anderson described gays as "sodomites who recruit through rape" and "recruit through molestation." In explaining the hate group designation, the SPLC noted Anderson's position that homosexuals should be killed, citing a sermon in which he said: "The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers but not for homosexuals." A few days after the listing, Anderson stated: "I do hate homosexuals and if hating homosexuals makes our church a hate group then that's what we are." Anderson has also been vocal in expressing his hate for the transgender community, stating during a sermon that he hopes Caitlyn Jenner's heart explodes.
In a sermon, Anderson said that in the November 2015 Paris attacks the victims brought the attack upon themselves by being devil worshipers for attending a concert by the Eagles of Death Metal, and that France was a sinful nation. In a YouTube video (subsequently removed for violating the website's hate-speech policy) Anderson said of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting that it was good that there were 50 less pedophiles in this world, but it was bad that there were survivors, and that there would be a backlash against gun rights and religious fundamentalism, both Christian and Islamic. He said that the killings should not have been carried out extralegally by a vigilante, but rather "through the proper channels by a righteous government".
In September 2016, after Anderson had announced his intention to travel to South Africa, Malusi Gigaba, the Minister for Home Affairs banned Anderson and his followers, citing the Constitution of South Africa and stating "I have identified Steven Anderson as an undesirable person to travel to South Africa".
Anderson was also banned from entering the United Kingdom leading him to change his travel route to Botswana by flying via Ethiopia. On 20 September 2016, Anderson was banned and deported from Botswana.
In a YouTube video, Anderson mentioned a planned trip to Malawi in order to set up a church there. Malawian authorities subsequently made it known that he would not be welcome in the country and that he would also be banned from entering it in the future.
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a Faithful Word congregation member who showed up outside of the Phoenix Convention Center toting an assault rifle in August, when Obama spoke there.
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- "Anti-gay pastor barred from South-Africa: ‘It’s not really that cool of a place.’". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
- "Botswana to deport anti-gay US pastor Steven Anderson". BBC News. 2016-09-20. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
- "Botswana deports U.S. pastor Steven Anderson over anti-gay views". Reuters. 2016-09-20. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
- Stephen KJV1611 (2016-10-24), Faithful Word Baptist Church Malawi 2017, retrieved 2016-10-26
- "Govt. blocks anti-gay pastor from coming to Malawi". Malawi24. 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
- Collison, Carl. "Malawi government says 'kill the gays’ pastor 'will not be received' in the country". The M&G Online. Retrieved 2016-10-26.