Pastor Steven Anderson, a Baptist pastor from Tempe, Arizona; is going viral for a sermon he preached last weekend. No, the sermon isn’t going viral because of him preaching the good news of scripture. It’s going viral because the pastor called for the murder of every LGBT person as a solution to end HIV and AIDS.
His sermon titled “AIDS: The Judgement of God,” which was given the day before World AIDS day, evoked Levitical law saying “gays should be killed.” And soon in order to have an “AIDS-free Christmas.”
“Turn to Leviticus 20:13 because I actually discovered the cure for AIDS,” he said as his congregation laughed. “This is the cure for AIDS. Everyone is talking about ‘let’s have an AIDS free world by 2020.’ Look, we can have an AIDS free world by Christmas,” which evoked more laughter.
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, 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,” he said. “It was right there in the Bible all along — and they’re out spending billions of dollars in 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.” Perhaps the heterosexuals who also contract HIV are safe from Anderson’s call for execution.
Anderson’s assertion that AIDS is God’s judgment on LGBT people is not a new one to Christianity. Christian leaders of all denominations have been professing this this type of fear mongering for decades. It’s exactly this fear mongering and homophobic rhetoric that kept agencies from helping HIV infected individuals during the height of the AIDS crisis.
The reason gay and bisexual men are contracting HIV faster than other groups of people is due to the homophobia and biphobia that shames gay and bisexual men from seeking help. This disease is used as a way to stigmatize sexually active gay and bisexual individuals. But it’s exactly that stigmatization that increases HIV infections.
That’s why World Aids day is so important: To end the stigmatization of the heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual individuals who have been infected with HIV. The day raises awareness and provides education on HIV prevention. So that one day we can be free of a completely preventable disease.
Besides the clear lack of understanding of HIV, Anderson doesn’t seem to be well versed with scripture either. How can any Christian call for the execution of hundreds of thousands of individuals? Then again, isn’t he just following the letter of the law of non-affirming theology?
Here’s the deal: the criminalization of homosexuality isn’t just happening abroad, it’s happening right here in our back yard. What’s worse is the criminalization of homosexuality is also happening in our pews. Anderson is not an isolated incident. He is a product of decades of homophobic rhetoric that has been promoted from our pulpits. And while statements like his are clear violations of scripture, Christians are weary of jumping to the defense of LGBT people.
But why are they weary? If non affirming Christians truly believe in the humanity of LGBT people they must be the first to denounce such rhetoric for the hateful, un-Christ like, fear mongering that it is. Christian leaders cannot only talk about LGBT individuals when they want to condemn their same-sex intimacy. If Christians truly cared about the lives of God’s children, regardless of the stance on the theology of same-sex sex, they would have no qualms vocally calling these types of statements out. Yet, to my experience, that isn’t the case. Because they don’t want to be seen as too loving. God forbid someone mistakes their statements of defense as condoning of same-sex sex.
Non-affirming Christians stay silent on the systemic discrimination LGBT people face and only speak on it when accused of influencing it abroad. They can’t seem to speak about LGBT people without a clause. This “We love gay people but..” isn’t working. It needs to be clear, “we love gay people and the dehumanization and advocation for their deaths is evil.” But we won’t see that. On LGBT community, Christians are quick to speak and slow to act at the cost of LGBT lives.
That is why LGBT Christians like me don’t believe non-affirming Christians who tell me they love me. If you truly loved me, you wouldn’t be complacent when pastors are calling for my death from your pulpits.
If you want to watch the video you can watch a snippet here and the full length here at your own discretion. For facts on HIV check out World Aids Day Website. Follow my Twitter and Facebook for all things LGBT Christian.
Update: A previous version of this piece said Anderson was ordained. According to the church website, he is not ordained but he “has well over 140 chapters of the Bible memorized word-for-word.”