Anderson still plans to visit African countries more welcoming of his anti-gay agenda

News Analysis by Brent Paxton

There’s been an anti-gay preacher back in the news this past week. He’s Steven Anderson, the head of Faithful Word Baptist Church, an anti-gay congregation that meets every Sunday and Wednesday in Tempe, Ariz.  The church’s website claims it is an old-fashioned, independent, fundamental, King-James-Bible-only, soul-winning Baptist church.

Preacher Anderson is making headlines because he was recently denied a visa to South Africa due to his repeated hate speech and regularly incitements to violence, especially against LGBTpeople.

This preacher’s resurgence in the news has a lot of people asking, “Who is this guy, anyway?” So let’s take a look.

Who is Steven Anderson?
Holocaust-denier Steven Anderson claims to be on “God’s mission” to “win souls,” while simultaneously suggesting people assassinate President Barak Obama and murder gay people and wishing brain cancer on all LGBT people. His mission, he says, is to return people to the good, ol’ fashioned values of yesteryear when people took the word of God at face value, something called Biblical literalism.

His sermons have titles like, “The Sodomites Will Never Stop Us,” “Why I Hate Barack Obama” and “The Homo Agenda vs. Reality.” And their content is even more disturbing than their titles.

Anderson made headlines in June, after the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 49 dead and 53 injured, when he declared there were “50 less pedophiles in this world” thanks to the Orlando shooting. He went on to explain his views on the death penalty by saying, “The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers but not for homosexuals.”

“The bad news is that a lot of the homos in the bar are still alive, so they’re going to continue to molest children and recruit children into their filthy homosexual lifestyle,” Anderson said in a video uploaded to YouTube, a video later taken down under the site’s rules against “hate speech.”

“I’m not sad about it; I’m not gonna cry about it because these 50 people in the gay bar that got shot up were going to die of AIDS and syphilis and whatever else,” he continued. “At least these dangerous, filthy predators are off the streets. I’m just trying to look on the bright side.”

While most people consider his hate speech repugnant, his followers often accept Anderson’s words as those of God himself.

Anderson first brought his church national attention in August 2009, when a member of his congregation, Christopher Broughton, went to an appearance in Phoenix by President Obama carrying an assault rifle and a pistol. Anderson had preached a day earlier to Broughton and others that he “hates Obama” and would “pray that he dies and goes to hell.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has already declared the church a hate group. But Anderson’s followers are not deterred. When questioned about his views by openly gay Huffington Post writer Michelangelo Signorile, Anderson responded: “If you’re a homosexual, I hope you get brain cancer and die like Ted Kennedy.”

Why was he trying to go to South Africa?
Anderson was attempting to go to South Africa this week to speak at anti-gay churches and organizations and take his hate speech international. But South African Home Affairs Minister Mulasi Gigaba wasn’t having it, declaring the so-called preacher a “prohibited person” and warning, “If we find him at any of our ports of entry, we will detain and deport him.”

It’s worth noting that Americans do not require visas to travel to South Africa, but Gigaba revoked Anderson’s visa exemption status. This comes at a time when the LGBT community in Africa is having a very difficult time getting traction. South Africa is the only country in Africa to allow same-sex marriage, actually doing so before the United States. Sadly, the rest of Africa is not so progressive.

Despite being banned from South Africa, Anderson is moving forward with his plans to visit the continent of Africa, hoping to capitalize on the fears those living in underdeveloped countries, like Botswana, where he’s schedule to speak. In Botswana, a country where homosexual acts are illegal, homosexuality is seen as a Western disease and “such lifestyles” as essentially un-African.

Anderson is expected to pander to these beliefs and warn Botswana of the dangers of letting the homosexual agenda take hold in the country.

Why should we care?
Faithful Word Baptist Church and its leader Steven Anderson represent a very scary and very real segment of the population right here in this country. The rise of Donald J. Trump and his hijacking of the Republican Party supports the trend of alt-right groups like this becoming more and more emboldened.

While it may be tempting to look away from such radical extremists, it’s important to keep a spotlight on them. Groups like this spew hate and need to be held accountable for their actions and words.

By bringing these individuals and their congregations to national attention, they will be scrutinized, analyzed and challenged about their beliefs. Letting people know about these hate groups can also be used as a tool to promote understanding.

People often question their own stereotypical beliefs, prejudice and bias when they see it so prominently in others.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2016.