Religulous love and hate

 

San Tan Valley in the orbit of Phoenix is foreclosure-central these days, with 863 properties on offer. So it's probably not surprising that a man's prayer stand along a busy highway is doing a boffo business with commuters.

In fact, Matthew Cordell, 38, is so much in demand that he has backed up traffic for miles, reports The Arizona Republic. That forced the former body-shop worker to move down the road to an empty parking lot. There, accompanied by a Chihuahua named Skye and Christian music blasting from car speakers, Cordell offers blessings and solace three days a week from 6 to 10 a.m. This is work he loves, Cordell says, and "when it's something God wants you to do, you can't get away from it." He was inspired by seeing a roadside fruit vendor, though Cordell says he didn't act until he heard his pastor preach a sermon about "leaving one's comfort zone behind." Competing along the highway with vendors selling everything from turtles to tamales, Cordell says the people who drive in are surprisingly open and "quick to reveal things others might deem taboo." He keeps a list of every prayer request, he says, and during the day consults it when seeking divine help.

Meanwhile, in Tempe, Ariz., there's a pastor who might benefit from a chat with the compassionate freelancer Matthew Cordell. At the Faithful Word Baptist church, Steven L. Anderson has been preaching sermons about "Why I hate Barack Obama." He also admits to "praying for Obama's death," reports The Arizona Republic. Members of his small congregation (24 on a recent Sunday) apparently take him seriously. It was a member of the Faithful Word congregation who armed himself with an assault rifle and showed up at the Phoenix Convention Center when Obama spoke there. But Anderson has not been allowed to spew his message of hate unopposed. When he preached inside his church recently, about 100 protesters gathered outside for what they called a "love rally." One carried a sign that said, "My God is a God of peace." Another protester told a reporter, "I'm all for tolerance and love. Hate is a dangerous word and I'm afraid someone might get hurt."

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