Wacko Tempe preacher Steven Anderson never misses an opportunity to spew hate and homophobia, so it's hardly a surprise to find him capitalizing on the recent massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman killed 49 and wounded 53 more early Sunday morning in the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil since 9/11.
Anderson, who in his sermons and online rants previously has called for the death of President Obama and the execution of all gays, took to YouTube Sunday to opine on what he called "the bright side" of the horrific event: that the victims, whom he called "50 sodomites," are no longer among the living.
"The good news is there are 50 less pedophiles in this world," Anderson, pastor of Tempe's Faithful Word Baptist Church, says in the video. "Because these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles. That's who was [sic] the victim here — a bunch of just disgusting homosexuals at a gay bar."
Anderson points out that he doesn't advocate "taking the law into our own hands," and that he would never shoot up a gay bar himself. But the Bible teaches that "homosexuals should be put to death," he says, and cites Leviticus 20:13 to back up the claim. Not that the pastor has any truck with Islam, which he calls a "wicked religion."
Yes, he'll be weeping no tears for the families of the fallen. Homosexuality should be outlawed and punished by the death penalty, et cetera. He does take issue with the Orlando incident, though, because the victims weren't "killed through the proper channels" by a "righteous government." He bemoans the calls for gun control that will inevitably emerge from the tragedy, and he believes there will be backlash against so-called hate speech by pastors such as himself.
"The bad news is 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 says in the video, later adding that the Devil loves this incident because, "now he can push his agenda of, 'Oh, we need to love homos and stop being hateful, because look at the violence it promotes.'"
Anderson is infamous for making outrageously bigoted remarks and using social media to spread his gospel of hate. He praised the November 2015 Islamic extremist attacks across Paris, singling out the incident at the Bataclan theater where three gunmen wearing suicide vests opened fire on the crowd watching the American band the Eagles of Death Metal, killing 89 and wounding 200.
The victims' fault? They were attending a death-metal concert and they were French and thus inherently sinful in the pastor's eyes. Anderson's a big anti-Semite, too, with sermons blasting Jews as antichrists who killed Jesus and who therefore are "children of the Devil." He also called for the death of transgender icon Caitlyn Jenner, whom he hopes will rot in hell.
Anderson isn't alone in his sentiments. (The video has amassed more than 115,000 pageviews to date, with reactions running about 10 to one against.) At 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, in what seemed to many to be a comment on Orlando, tweeted Galatians 6:7 — "God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows."
Social media erupted in outrage.
A spokesman for Patrick issued a statement, noting that Patrick tweets a Bible verse every Sunday morning and that the verse had been pre-scheduled days earlier and had nothing to do with what happened in Orlando. The tweet was deleted. When the conflagration failed to die down, Patrick, who is out of the country, issued a statement on his Facebook page. (The Twittersphere remains unconvinced.)
Angela Hughey, president of the Phoenix-based nonprofit LGBT-advocacy group ONE Community, told New Times she hadn't seen Pastor Anderson's video but that the comments of those who applaud the Orlando attack drive home the need for legislation protecting the LGBT community from discrimination, which she believes will tamp down hatred toward gays in general.
"I think we have a lot of work to do," she said. "It's unfortunate that we live in a nation where it's still lawful to discriminate against people who are gay and transgender. So we need to lead, and as there are [new laws protecting the LGBT community] in this state and this nation, [such comments] will be seen as completely unacceptable."
Hughey said she's concerned by the mainstream media's framing of the Orlando massacre.
"People are quick to say that it's a terrorism attack," she added. "But I don't hear very many folks calling this a hate crime. And this clearly is a hate crime. It's absolutely both."
Update 12:16 p.m.: Though Anderson's sermons have dissed Jews, gays, the French, Caitlyn Jenner, and have called for the death of all gays and President Obama in the past, looks like the Tempe pastor spewed a hate screed too far with his video applauding the Orlando massacre. YouTube has censored Anderson's video, taking it down, and leaving a note stating that it was removed for violating YouTube's policy on hate speech.
The "Friendly Atheist" blog on the website Patheos has a transcript of most of Anderson's rant.