This is what I imagine I would hear if I were to attend the Faithfulword Baptist Church service. This church on the south-east corner of Southern Avenue and 48th Street, Tempe Arizona is led by one pastor Steven Anderson. The church is described as old-fashioned and one is cautioned not to expect anything modern or liberal – should you consider visiting, I suppose.
Until the good pastor was refused entry into this here mzansi, I had not heard of him and in fairness, my life was the better in that ignorance.
The beef, I gather from Twitter and electronic version of some newspapers, is the pastors hatred for homosexuals or as he prefers to call them, sodomites. He is known to have called them vile and worse. He is unrepentantly steadfast in his view of the sodomites so-called as evil. In his sermon (I only managed 2 minutes of a YouTube version) he makes no apology for offending the evil that is LGBT. Pastor Anderson takes his cue from the good book and no one is going to stop him from winning souls. His bigotry, hatred and othering is God sanctioned. The bible is, according to the good pastor ,very clear on sodomy. The man does know his King James Bible; it is the only version of the good book that the Faithful Word Baptist Church goes by. Not the watered down versions of the good book – this church only goes by the real deal and the real deal good book is on some “woe unto you ye sodomites”; and pastor and congregation say amen.
As we know, the good pastor was prevented from entering this here mzansi. As much as this made me happy, it seems to have offended others. Like one Mike Collins who made his views articulately known in the letters section of the Citizen. Yes that newspaper whose dodgy history is eclipsed goes unmentioned lately, what with BBBEE and that other newspaper that is a cousin of that TV news channel. Mr Collins laments the fact that our freedom of speech is poorer thanks to the department of home affairs refusing the good pastor entry into the country. In his defense of the good pastor Mr Collins refers to good ol’ Voltaire and his “I don’t agree with you but will defend your right to say it to the death” or words to that meaning. He, Mr Collins not Voltaire, would rather we let the good pastor into our sodom so that he can come win some souls. Like Voltaire we should defend the good pastor’s right to spew his bigoted bile-like views to the death more so that we disagree with those views. So far so reasonable, right? Wrong. Mr Collins also says that the sodomites would in any event not be attending the good pastor’s sermons, except to be confrontational. So what’s the fuss, right? Wrong. Then Mr Collins craftily uses the Dalai Lama’s experience to underpin the thrust of his letter – that the whole pastor’s affair is another black-eye for freedom of expression.
Bigotry can sound so reasonable sometimes. Like how kids are placed in classes according to their race – because kids prefer to be with their own or those that are culturally the same, right? Wrong. Women do not progress in the work place because just when they get ready for a senior position they decide to get married and raise children, right? Wrong. Mr Collins chooses not to deal with the other aspects of our constitutional democracy such as the laws that proscribe hate speech, period. The proscription of hate speech is not premised on its tendency to incite violence against the other. Inciting violence is a crime all on its own. So, when the good pastor makes his intention clear and public that he is mzansi-bound with the intention to win souls and to castigate sodomites in all of their evilness and vile ways; he foretells his intention to commit a crime. A crime for which good pastor unrepentantly and unapologetically stands by – in the name of God and the guidance of the bible, of course.
Our social compact as citizens is that we shall not commit crime and where we do, we may be deprived of some or all of our rights – like freedom of movement, freedom of expression, etc. Of course this may be a thin edge of a repressive wedge (a point Mr Collins does not make). Enough has been written and said on the application of our constitutional principles as a balancing act. Without this balancing Mr Collins and the good pastor will wantonly incite and hate and other and generally bigot their merry way around mzansi. Of course without the balancing on the other end dictators and fascist will deny all forms of expression. A concern Mr Collins does not express because fundamentally, he does not think the good pastor a bigot and a fascist – he thinks the good pastor a Dalai Lama of sorts..
Both Mr Collins and the good pastor are entitled to their views just as the department of home affairs has a duty to honour and protect the constitution in its decisions and rulings. In this particular instance I am with the honourable minister bae. Contrary to the assertion of Mr Collins that the decision amounts to an assault on the freedom of expression; the ruling refuses the use of the right to freedom of expression as cover for bigotry, hate speech and othering. For that, this freedom is strengthened and protected – as it should be. Especially from the good pastor and his flock.