Faithful Word Baptist Church
|Founded||December 25, 2005|
|Founder||Steven L. Anderson|
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 executed. Since then, as the church has grown, it has received media attention for its documentary Marching to Zion, which the Anti-Defamation League labelled anti-semitic; media attention has also focused on the pastor being refused entry to countries such as Jamaica and the United Kingdom.
Faithful Word Baptist 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, 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, liberalism, and modalism.
In contrast to other KJV-only independent fundamental Baptists, Faithful Word Baptist Church teaches supersessionism. Although FWBC rejects traditional Calvinism, in contrast to most other Baptist sects, it teaches a "reprobate" doctrine (named after Romans 1:28), which holds that people who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ too many times are "given over" by God to a reprobate mind, after which time they can never be saved. Anderson holds that all homosexuals are reprobates, and further holds that a saved person can never come out as a homosexual, as anyone who does so was never saved in the first place.
In March 2015, Anderson published a documentary called Marching to Zion, in which he argued that the anticipated Jewish messiah is the Antichrist, and 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. By 2015, the congregation numbered around 300 members.
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.
At his arraignment in April 2009, Anderson pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of resisting a lawful order. He was acquitted of the two charges by a jury in August 2010. The Border Patrol checkpoint incident was later made into a documentary movie titled Failure to Obey.
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, a church member, 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 transgender people, stating during a sermon titled 6 Types of Prayer 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 posted following the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, Anderson said it was good that there were 50 fewer pedophiles in this world, but that it was bad that there were survivors. He also said 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 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 missionary 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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Bob Gray wants you to think there’s some kind of contradiction between the reprobate doctrine and scriptures that say that salvation is available to everyone that believes, but there is no contradiction. Christ died for everyone, and whosoever will may come. A reprobate used to be a “whosoever,” but has now crossed a line with God. It’s not that a homosexual act is what makes them a reprobate, but a normal person is not tempted with unnatural sins. Burning in your lust toward the same gender is a SYMPTOM of being a reprobate. Romans Chapter 1 lays out the progression of how someone rejects God to the point where God eventually rejects them. When someone comes to me concerned that they might be a reprobate (perhaps due to something they participated in unwillingly while drunk,) I ask them if they burn in lust toward the same gender. When they say no, I ask some questions to check what they believe about salvation. If they answer everything correctly, I reassure them that if they are able to believe on Jesus Christ, then they are not a reprobate.
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