Saturday 25 May 2019

Minister takes rare step to ban anti-gay US hate preacher from coming here

Barred: Controversial US Pastor Steven Anderson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Barred: Controversial US Pastor Steven Anderson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A holocaust-denying American preacher who promotes anti-LGBT rhetoric has been barred from speaking in Ireland later this month.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has taken the rare step to prevent Pastor Steven Anderson from entering the country.

Mr Anderson has been the subject of petitions calling for him not to be allowed to stage an event in Dublin.

He is due to travel to the capital on May 26 and has estimated that 150 people would attend a planned sermon.

However, Mr Flanagan told the Irish Independent: "I have signed the exclusion order under my executive powers in the interests of public policy."

The minister broke with the normal protocol of not commenting on individual cases to confirm the order - but he declined to comment further.

It is understood to be the first time Mr Flanagan has used the power available to him under the Immigration Act 1999.

The ban on Mr Anderson takes immediate effect.

More than 14,000 people had signed a petition set up by Changing Attitude Ireland, a liberal Church of Ireland group sympathetic to gay people. They claimed Mr Anderson has "advocated exterminating LGBT+ people".

He previously posted an online video in which he justified the murders of 49 people in the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando in 2016. The pastor also claimed to pray at night that former US president Barack Obama would die.

It was expected that his trip to Dublin would involve commentary on the outcome of the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Mr Anderson had already been banned from the 26 European countries in the Schengen Area, which does not include Ireland.

The 38-year-old recently posted a video in which he said his European tour was curtailed but he still planned to fly directly to Dublin.

"So far so good on Dublin. It is still on," he said. "These events are still going on; the soul-winning and the preaching are still going on. It's just yours truly who won't be there, except I am planning to be there in Ireland.

"I am planning to fly directly to Dublin. So, unless they ban me, I'm still going to be there in Dublin," he said.

Mr Anderson called for UK followers to travel to the event here. They were to meet at a McDonald's restaurant near the airport from where they would be transported to a secret venue for the seminar.

Mr Anderson is a member of the Faithful Word Baptist Church which is not affiliated to any Christian denominations. The church's website says his lectures have been translated into 115 languages.

"We are an old-fashioned, independent, fundamental, King James Bible only, soul-winning Baptist church," it says.

Mr Anderson has 10 children and set up the church on Christmas Day, 2005.

His biography states that he holds no college degree but has "well over 140 chapters of the Bible memorised word-for-word, including approximately half of the New Testament".

Irish Independent

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