Protesters Rally Against Pastor's 'Why I Hate Obama' Sermon

Arizona town stages 'love rally' at church that prays for president's death.

ByABC News
September 7, 2009, 5:52 PM

Sept. 7, 2009— -- Members of an Arizona community are trying to counteract what they say is hate-speech seething in one of the town's conservative churches.

About 100 protestersarrived at Tempe's Faithful Word Baptist Church on Sunday to demonstrate against controversial comments from its pastor, Steven L. Anderson.

The pastor delivered a sermon last month that was entitled, "Why I Hate Barack Obama," and called on his parish to pray for the death of the president.

Anderson told ABC's affiliate KNXV-TV in Phoenix that he received a phone call from the U.S. Secret Service after that August incident.

The so-called "Love Rally" outside Anderson's church -- office space wedged between a pawn shop and a salon in a strip mall -- was organized by the People Against Clergy Who Preach Hate.

"It's hard to believe we could have someone of a religious nature wishing our president was dead," protester William Crumb told the ABC affiliate.

"I'm just disgusted with this man who claims to be a minister of the Lord preaching hate toward the president," protester Larry Crane said.

"I'm sure you have plenty of footage from previous interviews you did with me," Anderson told the KNXV television crews approaching him for comment Sunday. "I'm just a little tired right now."

Anderson, 27, is the father of five children and is a small business owner. His wife Zsuzsanna home schools their children.

The day after Anderson's sermon, one of his parishioners, Christopher Broughton, carried a loaded AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and a handgun to a protest of Obama's address to a veteran's group.

Broughton said he was motivated not by his pastor but by a long-standing dislike for the president, but told The Associated Press he "absolutely" agreed with Anderson. He was not arrested, as it is not illegal to openly carry a gun in Arizona.

In addition to what the protesters called hate sermons at the local church, Phoenix School Superintendent Tom Horne has voiced concern over Obama's televised classroom speech planned for Tuesday.

Tempe, a suburban town outside Phoenix and home to Arizona State University, is a "somewhat liberal" community, according to local reporter Stephen Lemons, who had his own confrontation with the pastor later in the day after Sunday's protest.

Lemons and Anderson argued after the reporter asked questions about the pastor's other job, installing commercial fire alarms. He also asked Anderson about an incident earlier this year when the pastor was tasered by border patrol.

On YouTube with large red marks across his forehead, Anderson said the Tasering incident occurred after he refused to answer a Yuma, Ariz., border patrol agent's questions when stopped.