Steve Anderson, head of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, has a long history of spouting misogynist, homophobic, and generally obnoxious vitriol from the pulpit, as Friendly Atheist has documented. (There was also this altercation between Anderson and DPS officers in 2009.) This holiday season, Anderson is in hot water over some vicious comments he made about LGBTQ and HIV positive people.
Anderson's November 30th sermon, "AIDS: The Judgment of God", is no longer available for viewing at his YouTube account, but an audio recording is still available at his church's website. In the sermon, he disparaged HIV awareness efforts and mocked HIV positive people as "homos", "reprobates", and "freaks". In one chilling segment, he even called for the execution of all gays in order to eradicate HIV.
Anderson begins the sermon by complaining about all the attention surrounding World AIDS Day, offended that even his bank had display material commemorating the day.
"I told the manager, I said, 'Look, I know you probably don't have any control over it ... locally here, I don't appreciate this. This offends me.' But the sad things is I'm probably the only person that complained about it because our society is so brainwashed, they don't even understand why I would have a problem with all this AIDS paraphernalia being put forth.""AIDS is the judgment of God," Anderson insisted. After citing Bible verses condemning same-sex intimacy, he described HIV as a punishment that LGBTQ people have supposedly earned by offending God. Quoting Deuteronomy 28, in which God threatens to afflict disobedient humans with disgusting diseases, Anderson fumed that America was infested with sexually transmitted infections.
"Don't tell me that God won't send disease! Don't tell me that God won't send pestilence as a punishment! DON'T TELL ME THAT THE FACT THAT OUR COUNTRY TODAY IS FILLED WITH STDS ISN'T THE JUDGMENT OF GOD TODAY, BECAUSE IT IS! And you say, 'Well, that has nothing to do with it.' That's baloney! You know and I know that married, heterosexual, normal Christian people are not picking up these diseases. They're just not doing it. Unless they get a blood transfusion from one of these freaks, they're not going to get it. You get it from being promiscuous. You get it from living a life of sin."Anderson's sermon dripped with hostility toward people with STIs and HIV, blaming them for their infections. The idea that a monogamous person could contract a disease from an unfaithful partner apparently never occurred to him. More importantly, the idea that people with infections are still human beings deserving of respect was alien to him. Disease, in Anderson's eyes, is an excuse to lash out at LGBTQ people, non-monogamous people, and anyone whose sexual lives look different from his.
Anderson refused to acknowledge innate sexual orientation, convinced that most "normal" men are not drawn to same-sex intimacy.
"The Bible is saying that these things are not convenient ... It means things that don't come naturally. They don't come naturally. These are unnatural. In fact, the Bible says they're against nature. Now look. We all have a sin nature. We all struggle in a battle with the flesh, don't we? But, are we tempted to be a sodomite? Absolutely not. Ninety-some percent of men today, this thought would never even enter their mind. Why? Because they have not been given over to vile affections, that's why. We have a sin nature. That's why we're tempted to steal, that's why we're tempted to lie, that's why if I were to drive down the road, and there was a billboard with some scantily-clad female, you know, the flesh is going to want to look at that image, and the spirit's going to have to say, hey I'll send no wicked thing before mine eyes, but the flesh is going to be tempted to sin, and there's going to have to be an effort made to subdue the flesh, to mortify the flesh, to walk in the spirit, to resist temptation, to not yield to that. But, if there was some dude in his underwear on a billboard, it's not a temptation, my friend! ... In fact, it's repulsive ... to the normal man."He went on at length about how same-sex intimacy disgusted him and how LGBTQ people supposedly indulge in "gross" activities that go against natural human inclinations.
The most revolting segment of Anderson's sermon, and the segment that has attracted the most media attention, was Anderson's call for executing gays. Toward the end of his talk, he cited Leviticus 20:13, claiming that society could eradicate HIV by murdering gays.
"Turn to Leviticus 20:13, because I actually discovered the cure for AIDS. Now, this is the cure for AIDS, okay? And you know, everybody's talking about 'Let's have an AIDS-free world by 2020!' ... Look, we could have an AIDS-free world by Christmas ... We'd be like ninety-some percent AIDS-free by Christmas if we would follow this. Here's what the Bible says. Leviticus 20:13. 'If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, okay, even both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.' And that, my friend, is the cure for AIDS. It was right there in the Bible all along, and they're out spending billions of dollars and research and testing. It's curable, right there, because if you executed the homos like God recommends, you wouldn't have all this AIDS running rampant."This naked hate speech sickened me. In Anderson's eyes, LGBTQ and HIV positive people are expendable vermin who deserve death for their supposed transgressions. When someone calls for the death of an entire class of people, even in jest, he must be condemned by people of conscience. Hate crimes against LGBTQ and HIV positive people are all too real, and they are fueled by attitudes such as this.
One wonders why Anderson harbors so much hatred toward the LGBTQ and HIV positive communities. What kind of hatred blinds Anderson to their fundamental humanity? What kind of broken moral compass leads him to disregard their dignity and lives? What kind of toxic faith leads him to fixate on hateful passages in scripture while ignoring other passages celebrating compassion? What kind of inner turmoil causes a man to obsess over the sexual practices of consenting adults?
Fortunately, one nonprofit is using Anderson's hate speech toward a good cause. A humanitarian aid organization called Planting Peace just launched a Christmas fundraising drive, in which they promise to give Anderson a lump of coal for every donation (minimum $10) to their organization. (Hat tip to Huffington Post.)
"Pastor Steven Anderson of Tempe's Faithful Word Baptist Church has called for the execution of gays by stating in a recent sermon that "we can have an AIDS-free world by Christmas" if gays are executed. In response to his ridiculous and unbelievably offensive statement, Planting Peace invites you to make a donation that will go toward helping people with HIV/AIDS. It's clear to us that Pastor Anderson falls on the "naughty list" this year, so in addition, for every donation we receive Planting Peace will send a lump of coal to Pastor Anderson in a festive package tied with a bow that will be delivered on Christmas Eve."Something tells me that Steve Anderson will get a lot of coal from Santa this Christmas.