Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pastor Steven Anderson Still in News: "I Hope That God Strikes Barack Obama with Brain Cancer"

I just posted about the impossible fit between authentic values of respect for life and the mobs shouting about baby killers and the culture of death, even as they seek to block much-needed access to health care for millions of citizens. For another example of the impossible fit between right-wing religiosity American-style these days and bona fide religious or philosophical traditions centering on respect for life, I’d like to point once again to the recent activities of Baptist pastor Steven Anderson.

Frederick Clarkson has an outstanding article at Religion Dispatches today about Anderson’s ongoing prayer campaign to see President Obama dead. Clarkson notes that this is yet another of those significant religion-related stories that the mainstream media seem incapable of getting right.

When one of Anderson’s church members Chris Broughton appeared awhile back at a Phoenix town hall meeting toting a semi-automatic assault rifle, the mainstream media seemed curiously unable to discover anything about Broughton’s religious background—though, as Clarkson notes, the night before this incident, Broughton had attended a service at Anderson’s Faithful Word Baptist church at which the pastor preached on the topic, “Why I Hate Barack Obama,” and proclaimed that when he went to bed that evening, he intended to pray the president dead.

As Clarkson points out, had it not been for the dogged determination of bloggers to get to the bottom of the Broughton story, we would never have learned of his connections to Steven Anderson. Or of Anderson’s interesting ties to the Constitution Party, which has also attracted the likes of Randall Terry, the right-wing Catholic anti-abortion activist who led the charge against President Obama at Notre Dame and recently disrupted a town-hall meeting in Virginia as he and other “pro-life” activists screamed about baby killing and refusing to pay for murder.

With the national spotlight on him, Anderson not only remains unrepentant but is actually stepping up his rhetoric about wishing Obama dead. Anderson’s local FOX news outlet interviewed him yesterday. Anderson told the media,

I hope that God strikes Barack Obama with brain cancer so he can die like Ted Kennedy, you know, and I hope it happens today. . . . Look up the word “hate,” look up the word “abhor,” look up the word “loathe,” and you’ll see that there are a lot of people who God hates and who we should hate. But, see, I didn’t write that. That’s in the bible.

As FOX notes, Pastor Anderson claims that the preceding pro-life statements stem from his views on abortion. Frederick Clarkson notes that Anderson’s Constitution Party grew out of the Christian Reconstructionist movement, which espouses the death penalty for both abortionists and gays.

Anderson disclaims any possible connections between his preaching and violence, and says he doesn’t condone killing.

What’s that you were saying again, bishops, about the culture of death? And about the pro-life movement being only about respect for life?