Tuesday 20 November, 2018

Anti-gay pastor: Who is Steven Anderson?

American pastor, Steve Anderson

American pastor, Steve Anderson

Jamaica’s government is facing calls to ban a visit by a US preacher notorious for homophobic and inflammatory comments.

Pastor Steven Anderson says he plans to visit the island at the end of January for a week-long “soul-winning” trip. But a petition demanding that the visit by the “hate preacher” is blocked has been signed by more than 5,000 people.

 

So what does he believe?

The pastor leads the Faithful Word Baptist Church, based in Arizona. On its website the church warns worshippers not to expect “anything contemporary or liberal”, describing itself as an independent, “fundamental, King James Bible only, soul-winning Baptist church”. In its doctrinal statement it says that it believes homosexuality “is a sin and an abomination which God punishes with the death penalty”. Pastor Anderson, the website says, founded the church in 2005, has no college degree but has memorised over 140 chapters of the Bible word for word.

 

What has he said?

The pastor delivers lengthy sermons criticising other religions, condemning modern life and the “wickedness” of television, and warning of the literal hell that awaits unbelievers.

But it is his comments on homosexuality that have propelled him into the spotlight. He says gay people should be killed, telling US media in 2014: “I believe what the Bible says, that homosexuals should be executed.”

After the June 2016 shooting of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, he said the “good news” was that there were “50 less paedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and paedophiles”.

He also says he has a “Biblical position” on the role of women, meaning they should stay at home and “submit to their husbands”.

 

What have other countries done?

In September 2016, Pastor Anderson was denied a visa by the South African government, with a minister explaining he had been designated an “undesirable person”. He subsequently went to Botswana only to be deported after he told a local radio station that gay people should be “stoned to death”.

He was also not allowed to travel to or via the UK. In a statement, the Home Office said coming to the UK was “a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who seek to subvert our shared values". In the Caribbean, he has recently visited Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago.

 

So what now?

Earlier this week, Pastor Anderson told Jamaican media that he was coming on a tourist visa and would be talking to people “one-on-one”. “My visit has nothing to do with homosexuality or women’s roles. I’m just there to preach the Gospel,” he said. Asked about his comments on the Orlando killings, he said he did not condone violence but said he would not mourn when “God’s wrath” fell on “wicked” people.