South Africa Considers Banning U.S. Anti-Gay Preacher

South Africa rainbow flag
Activists from the LGBT community demonstrate outside the Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, on May 19, 2012. South Africa is considering banning an anti-gay American preacher from visiting the country. RODGER BOSCH/AFP/GettyImages

South Africa is considering banning an openly homophobic American preacher from traveling to the country, as a war of words between the home affairs minister and the preacher broke out.

Steven L. Anderson, the pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona, is due to travel to South Africa for what he describes as a "soul-winning marathon" on September 18, billed for Boksburg, a city that lies around 16 miles east of the commercial hub Johannesburg.

Anderson posted a video on Tuesday expressing his frustration with South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. The minister's department met with LGBTI activists on Monday and said that the department was considering several actions against Anderson and would be monitoring him closely during his visit. Almost 7,500 people have signed an online petition against Anderson's visit.

"This guy [Gigaba] is such a joke," said Anderson in the video. "If he was going to ban me, he would have done it months ago. But he's just stringing these sodomites along and it's funny how they don't pick up on it, they don't get the hint."

Anderson said that he had no intention of preaching on homosexuality in South Africa but that his focus would be on the "soul-winning marathon." Describing Gigaba as a "wicked politician," Anderson suggested that his message would be well-received among some South Africans. "We're not the ones who are backward, Minister Gigaba," said Anderson. "You're the one that's backward, Gigaba. You're the one that thinks a dude should be intimate with another dude."

In a statement circulated on social media on Friday, Gigaba stated that Anderson "obviously cannot be regarded as a pastor," and added that the U.S. pastor "needs to find God." The minister declared that his department was going to take the "necessary decisions" that would be announced in the next week.

"He has every right in his country of origin to say what he wants. But we are not importing bigotry in South Africa. There is absolutely no way that we are going to accept somebody, an absolute, downright, unrepentant bigot to come into South Africa," Gigaba reiterated.

Besides the petition, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane, has spoken out on the issue, urging the South African government to turn Anderson away. "Our constitution, of which we are all immensely proud, makes it quite clear that there will be no discrimination against people of a different sexuality," said Ndungane, a former prisoner on Robben Island, on Thursday, according to South African news site BD Live. "How, then, can we allow such an openly homophobic and anti-gay person the right to speak on public platforms in our country?"

Anderson had previously celebrated a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a known gay nightclub in June. Fifty people were shot dead by Omar Mateen at the nightclub, making it the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. He said in a video that the "good news" was that there was "50 less pedophiles in the world" but that the "bad news" was that the tragedy would be used to push for "gun control, whereby law-abiding, normal Americans are not going to be allowed to have guns for self-defense."