Faithful Word Baptist Church (Steven L. Anderson)

A fiercely independent Baptist church known for its extreme views and vehement anti-LGBTQ stance.

Religion: Christianity
Denomination: New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist
Founder: Steven L. Anderson
Founded: 2005
Location: Tempe, Arizona, United States
Size: 300

The Faithful Word Baptist Church, established in 2005 in Tempe, Arizona, is a New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church known for its radical teachings and strong opposition to LGBTQ rights. This church, led by Pastor Steven Anderson, has garnered significant attention and controversy for its extreme interpretations of the Bible and hateful rhetoric. His public declarations and sermons have ignited debates on hate speech, religious extremism, and the boundaries of free expression within religious contexts.

The church was founded by Steven Anderson, a pastor without formal theological training, who sought to create a congregation adhering to his interpretation of Biblical literalism. He only accepts the King James Version of the Bible as the sole authority, rejecting more modern translations and interpretations and has a strict, authoritarian approach to leadership, often resulting in public condemnation of those he views as sinners or heretics. The church holds to many traditional Baptist beliefs such as salvation by faith alone, baptism by immersion, and the autonomy of the local church. However, they diverge significantly from mainstream Christian doctrines in their extreme views on sexuality, other religions, and societal issues.

The church also adopts a strong dispensationalist view of Biblical prophecy, often discussing the end times and the return of Jesus Christ. This eschatological focus has been a significant part of their preaching and teaching, with a literal interpretation of the Book of Revelation and other prophetic passages.

Anderson’s rhetoric has included vehement anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments, asserting that homosexuals should be executed according to biblical law, equating them with pedophiles and describing them as a danger to society through recruitment and molestation of children. His comments have been met with widespread condemnation, leading to the Southern Poverty Law Center designating Faithful Word Baptist Church as an anti-gay hate group. Moreover, Anderson has been banned from entering more than 30 countries, including the entirety of the UK, all English-speaking developed countries other than the United States, and most English-speaking African countries, highlighting the global repudiation of his views.

Controversy has also stemmed from Anderson’s response to political and societal events. Following the Orlando nightclub shooting, Anderson remarked that the deaths of 50 individuals were ultimately a positive outcome, a statement that has been widely criticized for its insensitivity and blatant disregard for human life. Anderson has also made numerous derogatory comments about various religious and ethnic groups and has publicly prayed for the death of former President Barack Obama, shortly before a member brought an AR-15 and a pistol an Obama speaking event. Anderson has also been in trouble with the authorities himself, including in 2009, when he was tasered and arrested at a Border Patrol checkpoint in Arizona.

In 2015, Anderson produced “Marching to Zion,” a documentary that posits antisemitic views, arguing that the Jewish messiah is the Antichrist and the Talmud is blasphemous. This work, alongside other content such as “The Holocaust Hoax Exposed,” underscores a pattern of promoting conspiracy theories and denial of historical atrocities.

The church has a significant online presence, using platforms like YouTube and their website to disseminate sermons and teachings. This digital outreach has allowed them to reach a global audience, attracting followers and supporters from around the world. However, this has also resulted in their controversial views being spread more widely, often resulting in public backlash and calls for platforms to remove their content.

The Faithful Word Baptist Church’s approach to Christianity is an exemplification of extremist interpretations of religious texts, prioritizing a literal and uncompromising view of the Bible that espouses intolerance and hatred toward various communities. Aa a result, Anderson’s sermons and the church’s activities have sparked significant media attention and public outcry, serving as a focal point for discussions on the impact of religious extremism in modern society​​​​​​.

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