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Sunday Service at Obama-Hater Pastor Steve Anderson’s Tempe Church, and Details of Inmate Marcia Powell’s Autopsy

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If the Maricopa County Attorney's Office actually prosecutes someone as a result of the ADC review, I'll sell everything I own, move to Bora Bora, and live in a grass hut. But I won't be buying an airplane ticket anytime soon. Ever, actually.

FEAR AND LOATHING

You know the funniest part of my recent Sunday-evening visit to Tempe's Faithful Word Baptist Church, home of wacky, Obama-bashin' Bible thumper Pastor Steven Anderson?

It came when Anderson informed me after the service that he'd received numerous death threats for his "Why I Hate Obama" sermon, which has gone viral and become the subject of wide-ranging investigation and commentary, from CNN's Rick Sanchez show to Darrell Ankarlo's KTAR morning show, guest-hosted by middle-of-the-road conservative Austin Hill while wing-nut lip-flapper Ankarlo recovers from some weird brain injury.

The funny part ain't the death threats on Anderson. Nah, it was when I asked whether those threats gave Anderson second thoughts about praying for President Barack Obama to "melt like a snail" and for Obama's kids be left fatherless and for his wife Michelle be made a widow. Anderson said it didn't.

"Because, you know what the difference between me and him is?" asked Anderson, his wife and children waiting for him nearby. "He's guilty and I'm innocent."

I laughed, but both Anderson and his spiritual adherent, AR-15-slinger Christopher Broughton — known for donning a loaded assault rifle to protest the president's August 17 address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix — assured me seriously, "No, but it's true."

Broughton, BTW, was present the night I attended, as he was for the sermon in which he heard Anderson call for Obama's demise, just hours before taking part in a pre-arranged stunt with pistol-packin' militia apologist Ernie Hancock outside the Phoenix Convention Center downtown. That's where Hancock, the political P.T. Barnum behind the libertarian Web site Freedom's Phoenix, did his "interview" with Broughton.

In any case, as I listened to these two supposed Christians explain to me why Obama should croak, I couldn't help but think to myself that as much as I find Anderson and Broughton's words and deeds abhorrent, I would not wish death upon them in any form, much less for Anderson's tots to be dad-less or his wife to be a widow.

But, hey, what do I know? I'm an atheist.

Let me backtrack to Anderson's service itself. I got there right before the sermon started, so I pretty much rushed in and took a seat. The church is in a strip mall that houses a tailor, a salon, and other businesses nearby, and the plain interior of the place looks like it's meant for a commercial venture.

Past an empty main room with maps on the walls there's a room filled with armless chairs facing a rough-hewn pulpit. About 25 people were in attendance, though a church member named David told me there had been more present for the morning service and that there had been more media parked outside then, with at least one protester carrying a sign.

I sat for a moment next to a woman I later discovered to be Broughton's mom, who Broughton said was just checking the place out. Unfortunately, she amscrayed before I could ask her whether or not her son played well with others in kindergarten.

Anderson opened by leading congregants in a few hymns, then proceeded to preachify. There was nothing about Obama in this sermon. Having grown up in the South — with Sunday-go-to-meetin' as a practically unavoidable experience — I can tell you Anderson's sermon was the sort you hear in countless Protestant churches on any given Sunday. He mostly preached from Ecclesiastes, speaking of the "vanities" of this world, and how you can have access to all sorts of worldly delights and still be unhappy.

Crikey, who does this cat think he is, perpetually upbeat televangelist Joel O'Steen?

After the sermon, folks mingled in the larger front room, where I spoke for a few minutes with David, who told me about the lone protester earlier in the day. He also told me he agreed with Anderson's hate-Obama jeremiad and that he figured the outrage would probably die down after a week or so.

I spotted Broughton leaving, so I followed him as he walked to his motorcycle. When I said I was with New Times, he waved me away, but after a little cajoling, he relented. He wouldn't tell me how long he'd been going to Anderson's church (Anderson later told me it was for a few months), and he shrugged off a question about why he hadn't brought his AR-15 with him to church, because he supposedly has it with him at all times.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons