CLEARWATER — Is President Barack Obama the anti-Christ?
That's the question the Rev. Ken Link will answer Sunday during his sermon at Clearwater's Lakeview Baptist Church.
Sunday's discussion is the latest in a series by Link, examining Biblical prophecy and theories about the end of time.
The pastor says parishioners have asked the question since Obama began campaigning for president.
"It's not as much about politics as it is about scripture," Link said.
Link said he isn't afraid to preach politics, and would likely have posed the question regardless of America's leader.
"The popularity of the president is such that even asking the question causes controversy," Link said.
Several people have called to complain since the question was posed on a sign outside the church at 1430 Belleair Road in Clearwater. Link said they began advertising the sermon Monday and expect more than 200 people to attend.
As Renee Baker of Clearwater drove to an appointment Friday morning, she saw the sign and was offended.
"Just the fact that the question was put on marquee display," Baker said.
The church's right to free speech protected the discussion, she said, but she thought the question violated other liberties.
"They are tying the nation to the church," she said. "We aren't supposed to do that, according to the Constitution."
Link, however, said he opposes the country's rigid division of church and state.
Obama's speech in Cairo earlier this week complicates the question, Link said.
Some Obama opponents say the speech, which attempted to engage Muslims around the world, demonstrated wavering American support of Israel.
"I understand he is trying to calm the angst between Muslims and America," Link said. "I also know Jimmy Carter tried to do that."
The question has been rampant among bloggers since Obama's election last year. Many link Obama's widespread charisma with prophecy predicting the anti-Christ will be extremely popular.
In Christianity, the anti-Christ is Jesus Christ's antagonist, expected to rule the world before Jesus' second coming and the end of time.
"I've heard our president referred to as the modern-day Messiah," Link said. "And that is offending to us."
The church's service begins at 10:45 a.m. Sunday.
Brian Spegele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4154