Tempe, Arizona's Faithful Word Baptist Church has a relatively small congregation (less than 200 people), but its pastor, Steven L. Anderson, gets substantial media coverage because of his provocative beliefs. He has, in the past, admitted to praying for the death of President Barack Obama and has said that women should never be allowed to preach the word of God in a church. Most recently, Anderson delivered a sermon to his congregation in which he expressed his virtual apoplexy over the promotion of World AIDS Day. This prompted him to perpetuate the usual, consistently debunked myths that homosexuals choose to be gay and all gay people are pedophiles. Then Pastor Anderson proudly proclaimed that he had discovered the cure for AIDS. He promised that humanity could have an "AIDS-free world by Christmas" if the government would simply adhere to his interpretation of the biblical law of the land by executing all homosexuals.
This is not only outrageous but ignorant. Anderson has apparently never heard of the continent of Africa, where roughly 25 million people, the majority of them heterosexual women and children, are living with HIV. This figure accounts for nearly 70 percent of the global total of cases of HIV/AIDS. Executing all homosexuals would barely scratch the surface of the worldwide AIDS epidemic. World AIDS Day isn't just about the gay community. It's about finding a much-needed cure for a devastating disease that affects tens of millions of people. However, facts and reason don't matter much to people like Pastor Anderson.
This kind of nonsense has little to no effect on me. At my age, I doubt there's anything anyone can say to, or about, the LGBT community that I haven't already heard. However, I do often wonder what effect incendiary rhetoric like Pastor Anderson's has on younger gay people who are struggling with coming out. Coincidentally, in a subsequent interview about his sermon, Pastor Anderson was asked how he would react if he had a gay child himself. After insisting it could never happen, Pastor Anderson likened it to discovering that his daughter is an axe murderer, or that his son had grown up to be the next Adolf Hitler, and simply said he would have nothing to do with the child. Now, that bothers me. First of all, Anderson's comparison is laughably fallacious. More importantly, such a declaration doesn't show strength of conviction on Anderson's part. It only shows a detrimental weakness as a parent and as a human being. I can't imagine how any responsible and rational adult could do something as cowardly and narcissistic as turning their back on their own child simply because the child is gay. Yet it happens all the time. It's detestable.
After viewing his sermon and interview, in honor of Pastor Steven L. Anderson, I made donations to a center here in New York City that provides assistance to homeless LGBT youths, and to an organization that delivers meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses. Personally, it was my attempt to turn a negative into a positive. It gives me a little peace of mind, and hopefully it will help someone have a happier holiday. I also requested that letters of acknowledgement be sent to Pastor Anderson at his church's address. Gee, I hope he gets them and comes to the realization that his message of hate and abandonment has, on some level, backfired. Maybe he will even be a little disappointed. And that would be the best Christmas gift ever!