Weirdness of weirdness. I was only hoping to do one blog post today, but fate took another turn.
I ended back up in Tempe, thinking protest organizer Leonard Clark might be doing another anti-Steven Anderson action for Anderson's 6:30 p.m. service. When I got there, Clark was being interviewed by ABC 15's Tim Vetscher, but there was no follow-up, really, to the protest of earlier that morning, which I've already blogged about.
Since I was at the church, and since Anderson's evening service was about to let out, I decided to wait so I could ask Anderson if the U.S. Secret Service had contacted him since I spoke with him last week. Vetscher wanted to do the same, so he waited with me. I'm glad he was there, because he ended up catching Anderson's wig-out on tape. (You can see some of what Vetscher captured, here.)
At first, Chris "AR-15" Broughton's mom stopped by. She seemed like a very educated lady, though she declined to make any comment about the church her son attends, as well as declining to give her name. She would only say that she's a "firm believer in fighting illness, not people." She also mentioned that she used to be an engineer, and that she believed "religion is a man-made thing." All in all, a very rational, pleasant individual.
Anderson opened the door of the church, and Vetscher asked the preacher-man if he'd been visited by the Secret Service since last week. Anderson admitted that the Secret Service had called him, but his attorney advised him not to speak with them. So he declined their request for an interview.
Rudy Mills, the owner of a salon in the same mall as Anderson's church, had stopped by to find out what all the controversy was about with the church. At some point, Mills began to challenge Anderson, in a very polite way, over Anderson's infamous Obama-should-die sermon.
"You should be preaching the spirit of forgiveness," Mills advised Anderson, calmly."You should be preaching redemption and turning away from sin, not condemnation."
Anderson accused Mills of defending a murderer (i.e., Obama -- um, because he supports access to abortion, which is legal, btw), and accused Mills of voting for Obama, though Mills said he didn't want to say who he voted for. The pastor declared that he (Anderson) had voted for Ron Paul. (No surprise there, eh?) In the midst of Anderson's twisted theological explanations, he got off on an odd tangent, and I felt the need to jump in.
"The apostles told the Jews that they killed Jesus," offered Anderson, trying to make the case for the concept of extended guilt. "Were they the ones that physically nailed the nails in his hand? No, it was a Roman soldier. But yet he said to the Jews, you have taken Jesus with wicked hands and have crucified him.'"
There was a pregnant pause, and I was getting a little peeved by what I perceived to be this odd anti-Semitic turn, so I let fly.
"Should the Jews be killed too?" I wondered of Anderson. You know, like the gays, and the president, and everyone else who doesn't fit into his perverse Biblical scheme. Anderson said I was full of boloney.
"You'd love to turn this into a race thing," he told me. "I know how you are, I've read your newspaper."
I informed him that I did not regard Jewish people to be a "race." Last time I checked, Judaism was a religion.
In general, it's hard to pinpoint if people are racist. Actions and words are a little easier to snuff out. I think Anderson's said some naive things, but I haven't gone so far as to call him a racist. A nut, perhaps, but he's no J.T. Ready.
Anyway, I started to ask Anderson about the fact that he lists the strip-mall address for his church as the address for his fire alarm business. This really seemed to set Anderson off, though he eventually admitted that his fire alarm business helps pay the rent on the church space, that his business receives mail there, and that he stores some business equipment there. Still, Anderson insisted that his business is run from his home.
"My business is exactly one year old," he informed me. "And my business pays part of the rent in order to store equipment in this room. See this door right here...The church doesn't use this room."
I quizzed him on the fact that a certain state government entity has a listing for his church and for his business online, and that they both list the same address, though not the 2707 E. Southern Ave. address, which the church now inhabits.
"It's the same address because that's my house," he advised me. Then he accused me of wanting to plaster his address all over the place online. I advised him, in turn, that I had no idea that was his home address until he told me. (Gee, thanks, genius.)
Remember, Anderson is the one who advised me of what his home address is. I'm not interested in posting it on this blog. I mean the guy has little kids, and they can't help it if their dad's an idiot and places his home address online, then mouths off about the president.
Anderson kept poking at me with his fingers, so I ordered him to cease doing so. "I'm not the Border Patrol, so don't touch me," I cracked, thinking of recent videos I'd seen on the YouTube site RP4409, where he provocatively bumps into BP agents.
"And I touched them, right?" he shot back, referring to an incident earlier this year in which he was Tasered. "I think they beat the crap out of me."
"I think you provoked them," I opined. I mean, I'm against Tasers, period. But in his case, he could have easily avoided getting Tasered in that now famous incident by just opening his car door.
Interestingly, Vetscher told me that he had recently been visited at his home by a member of Anderson's congregation, supposedly canvassing for souls to save. We both remarked on how odd a coincidence that would be, for such a small congregation as Anderson's to have someone show up at his house. Vetscher admitted that he owned his home, so presumably it would be listed under his name
While Anderson and I were having our back and forth, I confronted him about it, and asked if he had sent someone to Vetscher's house.
"No, that was totally random, they knocked on every door on the street," he told me.
You should play Lotto, pastor. Because if your story's true, you're the luckiest preacher in the world.
The Greater Phoenix Metro Area resembles Dallas circa 1963: That's the message national ABC journo Susan Donaldson James got from me Labor Day when she called about my recent run-in with Pastor Steven Anderson. Check out James' report on Leonard Clark's successful Sunday action against the Obama-hatin' pastor, here.
Local affiliate ABC 15 has posted some raw footage of Anderson's flip-out Sunday evening. I should reiterate that this back and forth with Anderson was spontaneous. Up until a certain point, I was just listening to Anderson talk to businessman Rudy Mills. Once Anderson started getting into this creepy the-Jews-killed-Christ territory, I started asking him questions.
2006 is the year Faithful Word Baptist Church was registered as a non-profit, according to government docs. I said 2005 instead of 2006 while quizzing Anderson at one point. But you'll see that Anderson seemed to know exactly what I was referring to.
I talked to ABC 15's Tim Vetscher Monday, and he once again confirmed that Anderson's church recently knocked on his door. One of the church's members, bearing a gun stuffed into his waistband, stopped by Vetscher's home while they were supposedly canvassing the area. Vetscher informed me that other doors in his neighborhood were knocked on. It seems an amazing coinkydink that they would just happen to go through Vetscher's 'hood seeking converts, after Vetscher had reported on them.
(Smooth move saving souls with a gat in the waistband, BTW.)
For the lady who thinks I put the red eye into Anderson's pic, come by New Times' office sometime and I'll show you the photo as it is in my camera. I wouldn't know how to put red eye into a photo. That's a new one on me. I'll give you points for conspiracy-theory originality, though. For the guy who insists the Jews are a race, he should try telling that one to Ethiopian Jews. Or maybe he should rent some old Sammy Davis, Jr. flicks.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.