In a January 3 Facebook post, Pastor Steven Anderson's church, Faithful Word Baptist Church, insinuated that the deadly bushfires that have ravaged south Australia for months and claimed at least 25 lives are God's revenge against the country for banning Anderson from entry last year.
"Maybe if Australia weren't banning and deporting preachers of the Gospel, they wouldn't be under the judgment of God," the post reads. It also includes a link to an hourlong video of Anderson giving a sermon arguing that natural disasters are examples of "judgment from God."
Australia denied Anderson entry in July 2019, after he tried applying for a visa to preach at a fundamental Baptist church there, he announced in a YouTube video. When he tried to switch his trip to New Zealand, that country denied him, too.
Not without reason, of course. Anderson's laundry list of hate-filled and false statements over the years is both long and alarming. He praised the shooter in Orlando who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in 2016 for leaving "50 less pedophiles in this world." He's also called the Holocaust a "hoax," and told his congregation he planned to pray that President Obama "dies and go to hell." He said gay people should be killed, and bashed Jewish people on YouTube.
His rhetoric is so inflammatory that the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies Tempe's Faithful Word Baptist Church, where he preaches, as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.
As a result, Anderson has been banned or removed from dozens of countries, including Botswana, the Netherlands, and Ireland, to name a few.
The church's latest post targeting Australia has elicited hundreds of comments from upset Facebook users who say his words are shameful.
"Reading this is like time travelling to the dark ages," one commenter said.
"How dare you???" said another. "Spreading this hateful message. Absolutely reprehensible. I hope your god can forgive you, because we here in Australia certainly cannot."
Meanwhile, the worst bushfire season Australia has seen in decades is ripping across the continent, destroying millions of acres of forests and endangering humans and animals in New South Wales and beyond. Experts say the continent's rising temperatures and driest spring on record contributed to the horrific blaze.
Anderson did not return a call for comment by press time.
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