Remember Steven Anderson? You know, the lunatic pastor of Tempe's Faithful Word Baptist Church, infamous for praying for President Barack Obama's death, as well as for calling for the execution of all gays, and for getting Tasered at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint because he's an idiot?
Well, he's added a new outrage to his catalog of crazy: Anti-Semitism.
These days, Anderson is all about bashing the Jews on YouTube, where he posts hate-filled sermons with such snappy titles as "The Jews and Their Lies," "Jews Are Anti-Christs," "Christ-Rejecting Jews Are Children of the Devil," "The Jews Are Our Enemies," and the ever-popular, "The Jews Killed Jesus."
The not-so-good pastor's current project Marching to Zion apparently will tackle similar themes and has him collaborating with conspiracy theory-loving filmmaker Paul Wittenberger, a favorite of moonhowler extraordinaire Alex Jones.
(Note: Anderson and Wittenberger have been raising money online to complete the film by pre-peddling copies of Marching to Zion online for $19.95, in addition to offering different kinds of credits on the film for suggested donations ranging anywhere from $200 to $5,000 a pop.)
Sure, anti-Semites and their icky, self-made films are a dime a dozen on the Internet. But Anderson's drawn the attention of the Anti-Defamation League, in part by scoring the unwitting participation of four Phoenix area rabbis, one of whom is a Holocaust survivor.
Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the ADL's Center on Extremism in New York City, told me during a phone interview that the 100-year old civil rights organization recently issued a press release and posted a blog item on Anderson's film because it believes the intent of the documentary is promote anti-Semitism.
Mayo says the ADL based this conclusion on the content of Anderson's sermons, which are meant to plug the film and be used in it.
"Even though he has a small following in Arizona in terms of his church, [Anderson] has an audience beyond Arizona, and on the Internet," she explained. "We're concerned that the film...is going to be used to denigrate Jews and Judaism. So we felt we had to speak out against it."
Regarding the participation of the local rabbis, whose names and images are being used in promotional material for Anderson's documentary, Mayo said that, according to the rabbis, Anderson "misrepresented the intent of the film" to them.
I attempted to interview the rabbis involved. Two, including the survivor of the Shoah, declined comment. A third could not be reached.
But Jeffrey Schesnol, who explained that he's actually a rabbi in training and refers to himself as a Humanist Jewish Congregation Leader, told me that he was contacted by Anderson earlier this year through his synagogue with what seemed like a rather benign pitch.
"We were told there was going to be a documentary," Schesnol said of himself and the other rabbis, "that was hopefully going to be aired on some TV [channel] like PBS. That they wanted to try to sell the film to [PBS], and that the purpose of the film was to educate the general public about Judaism in general."
Schesnol said he and the other rabbis knew nothing of Anderson's previous hate-filled antics toward gays and President Obama, and that he only learned that something was amiss when the ADL called him a couple of weeks ago to inform him of Anderson's anti-Semitic ravings.
After viewing Anderson's YouTube videos and promotional materials for Marching to Zion, Schesnol believes he and the other rabbis were interviewed by Anderson "under false pretenses."
Schesnol says he recalled signing some sort of release, but did not know the details of it.
Each of the rabbis came from a different branch of Judaisim -- Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, etc. He said they were told the premise of the film was exploring these differences for educational purposes.
But now, he wants no part in the film.
"I would rather my association not be used to provide fodder for misrepresented facts about Judaism," he explained.
I called Anderson at his church, but didn't hear back from him. When I noticed that he was having a live, online YouTube chat that night with people calling in from around the country, I figured I'd give him a call and ask him how he secured the involvement of four rabbis in his new film.
Anderson seemed rather proud of his anti-Semitic coup, and related in detail how he went about it:
Well, here's how I got the four rabbis to participate, I got a list of every rabbi in Arizona, and I think I got 41 rabbis. And I just figured, you know, if I contact enough rabbis, somebody's going to agree to do it. And so I actually contacted all 41 of them, and I told them I was making a film about Judaism and the history of the nation of Israel, which is true, and I gave them a whole list of questions and those questions are the questions that I asked in the interview.
So they knew the questions they were being asked going in. I told them it was going to be about Judaism and the nation of Israel, but I didn't tell them whether it was going to be positive or negative. Well, they just assume it's going to be positive, because they assume that I'm going to be like the rest of evangelicals in Christianity and bow down to the chosen ones and worship them and say how great they are.
So basically, all four of them are going to hate this movie, of course, but it's the truth, they're false prophets and they deserve to be exposed and I didn't lie to them, I mean, everything I told them was the truth.
As you can see from the YouTube clip of our brief chat, culled from Anderson's three hour Q & A session, Anderson denied that he said he might try to sell the film to PBS.
"Well guess what, who is a liar but he that deny that Jesus is the Christ," Anderson shot back. "He's anti-Christ. So basically, if somebody is lying and saying that Jesus isn't the messiah, it also does not surprise me that they would lie and say I was selling the film to PBS."
Anderson is a real motor-mouth, but I was able to get in a comment to the effect that maybe he was being less than truthful himself.
"Ooh," he said mockingly, "it's possible that I could be lying too. It's also possible that the Bible could be lying but guess what the Bible's not lying and it's the Jews that are lying."
He hung up on me, and continued:
"So obviously this is somebody who is calling in trying to defend the anti-Christ Jews and he'd rather listen to somebody who calls himself a rabbi and spits on the name of Jesus Christ and calls Jesus a bastard and his mother a whore, and he thinks I'm lying because I supposedly claimed I was selling the film to PBS? No I never said any such thing, and the lying Jewish rabbi that told you that made it up."
Anderson says a lot of other unhinged, vile stuff in his videos: that Judaism is a "wicked religion," that Jews are of "the synagogue of Satan," and that they "believe it's OK for them to steal from Gentiles, as long as they don't steal from each other."
Oddly, Anderson also claims to have traces of Jewish blood in him, based on some sort of DNA test he's had.
He also offers half-hearted disclaimers to the effect that the Holocaust was wrong, and that it's not OK to "hate" Jews because Jesus teaches him that he's supposed to "love" his enemies.
If so, Anderson has a funny way of showing it, particularly, as we all know, Jesus was both Jewish and a "rabbi," a teacher, as his disciples referred to him.
Would Jesus approve of Anderson's anti-Semitism? Obviously, Anderson thinks so, and so do many online, as well as members of the pastor's congregation, who hang on his every word.
I'd like to dismiss Anderson as a clown, but apparently it's necessary to remind and re-remind people of his antics.
Also, he's capable of doing some real damage.
For instance, imagine how painful it must be for a rabbi who escaped the Nazis to be used in this fashion, to promote the sort of ideas that put him in mortal danger when he was a child.
Since that particular rabbi did not want to discuss Anderson with me, I'm not going to use his name.
Also, in Anderson's sermons, whenever the camera offers a shot of his small congregation, you see children present, soaking in his filth as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
That may be the most disturbing thought of all.
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