Backgrounder: Bill Keller and LivePrayer

Bill Keller is an evangelical minister who runs an Internet and TV ministry called LivePrayer, based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Keller has a history of anti-Muslim and anti-gay bigotry and has attacked President Obama as "an enemy of God" and compared him to Hitler.

Creating a "9-11 Christian Center" at Ground Zero

Keller's latest initiative is to create a "9-11 Christian Center" at Ground Zero in response to the proposed Islamic Center in the same area. He officially announced the launch of his project in mid-July 2010 and set up an affiliated Web site filled with statements denigrating Islam. On the site, Keller said that the mission of the project was to "combat the lies of this world and Islam with the TRUTH. We will combat the hatred of this world and Islam with LOVE.  We will combat the violence of this world and Islam with PEACE.  Finally, we will combat eternal death this world and Islam brings with LIFE EVERLASTING!!!"

The stated mission of the project exemplifies Keller's view of Islam as an evil force that needs to be defeated. In a June 30, 2010, sermon on his LivePrayer Web site, Keller tells his followers that he has warned for the past 11 years of "the real showdown that is looming between Islam and Christianity!!!" With the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero, Keller appears to have found evidence of the bitter confrontation he had predicted.

In the June 2010 statement, Keller wrote: "This is one reason Liveprayer will be opening the 9-11 Christian Center at Ground Zero this September. If the Muslims have the audacity to build a $110 million mosque just blocks from where the World Trade Center towers once stood, I can go to that same hallowed ground where MUSLIMS terrorized this nation and killed 3,000 innocent people, and give people the only Truth there is, God's Word, and the only hope there is, faith in Jesus Christ!"

Keller indicated that he plans to deliver sermons on Sundays starting September 5, 2010, at a hotel near Ground Zero until he secures funding to create the permanent center he envisions. Keller has made numerous appeals via his Web site for help in funding the center.

A History of Anti-Islam Bigotry

On September 18, 2009, Keller said that he had "been warning people for years about the fact Islam desires to turn the United States into an Islamic nation."

In an online sermon dated March 28, 2006, titled, "A False Religion that is about Hate and Death," Keller railed against Islam, calling it a false religion involving "a non-existent god name[d] allah…[who was] dreamed up by a murdering pedophile named Mohammed who wrote a fantasy book called the Koran that mandates death to anyone who rejects their false religion."

In another online sermon dated January 18, 2006, Keller referred to "this false religion called Islam that over 1 billion people on the planet are following straight to hell." In the same posted sermon, Keller wrote, "It is so sad that the largest Christian TV network in the world, for whatever reason, has censored those on their network from telling people the truth about Islam."

Anti-Gay Bigotry

Keller is also virulently anti-gay. He has called gay marriage a "perversion" and encouraged his followers to fight against the "the radical homosexual agenda" that he believes President Obama advocates.

Attacks against President Obama

Keller has made numerous statements against President Obama. Before Obama was elected, Keller referred to him as "an enemy of God." Keller has also compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler. When Obama invited Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration, Keller wrote on his Web site, "For Pastor Rick Warren to bless and give the invocation at the upcoming inauguration of a man who will help insure millions of babies around the world are slaughtered, and force US taxpayers to fund this legalized infanticide, is no different than if Adolph [sic] Hitler had asked him to give the blessing and invocation when he became Chancellor of Germany!!!"

On the homepage of the church's site, there are photographs of President Obama with the caption "God's enemy" and another with Obama superimposed next to a photograph of Hitler, with the caption "false hope."

Keller also promotes the "birther" conspiracy theory that claims that President Obama was not born in the United States. In a September 2009 segment of his online TV show, Keller featured an infomercial questioning President Obama's origins. On the show, Keller asserts, "The man was not born in Hawaii as he claims. He is not legally the president."

Founding of Bill Keller Ministries

Bill Keller runs his "online" church, under the auspices of Bill Keller Ministries, based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Keller says he was raised in the United Methodist Church, but became an evangelical preacher in 1992 upon his release from federal prison, where he spent two and a half years for insider trading.

According to Keller's LivePrayer Web site, he received his ministry credentials through an independent group of ministers, Spiritual Life Concepts in Largo, Florida, and is a member of a non-denominational church in Palm Harbor Florida.

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