A father of 10, Arizona Pastor Steven Anderson is one of America’s most controversial preachers, with a mission to spread his fundamentalist Christian beliefs, anti-Semitic views, and his church’s extremist positions to the world.
Anderson was born in 1981 and raised in Sacramento, California, to an Independent Baptist family. He attended seven Christian schools as a child, and was homeschooled for one year.
As a teenager, Anderson attended Woodcreek High School in Roseville, California. Upon graduating, he traveled throughout Germany and Eastern Europe for three months, serving in local Independent Baptist churches, studying languages and getting experience in the ministry.
It was during his European travels, when he was 18, that he met his future wife Zsuzsanna while out evangelizing — or as he states on his church’s website, “soul-winning” — on the streets of Munich in Germany.
After he “led her to the Lord,” Anderson encouraged her into fundamentalist Baptist Christianity, and they were married shortly after.
It was on Christmas Day in 2005 that he established the now-infamous Faithful Word Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Independent Baptist church in Tempe, Arizona, at his home address as a “totally independent organization.”
About a year and a half later, the church was moved to a strip mall that was also used by Anderson’s fire alarm installation business.
The church’s website describes the church as an “old-fashioned, independent, fundamental, King James Bible only, soul-winning Baptist church.”
It states that the church believes in salvation by faith alone — “once saved, always saved” — a literal hell for all those who are unsaved, and the primacy of the local church. The church also opposes worldliness, modernism and liberalism.
Anderson himself is a staunch denier of the Holocaust.
While he did not attend college, he boasts on his church’s website that he has “well over 140 chapters of the Bible memorized word-for-word, including approximately half of the New Testament.”
The church is currently listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) because of Anderson’s radical stands.
An insight into his mindset can be found on various social media platforms, mainly through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and his blog http://sanderson1611.blogspot.com, all of which he uses for his hate crusade.
On his Facebook page, followed by more than 16,000 people, Anderson — often described by media as a cult leader — has an online army of fans praising his work, with comments including “thank you, pastor for wonderful preaching” and “thanks pastor, for admonishing us.”
On his favorite online platform YouTube, his videos — often portraying the preacher at his pulpit — show a larger-than-life character, with an animated Anderson often drawing cheers and laughter from his audience as he kicks his podium and slams his fist.
In many of his blog posts, Anderson appears as a misogynist, saying a woman should not vote, and a woman’s greatest job is to stay at home and look after her children.
In one post, he says: “We, as men, have a desire to lead a woman and not to be led by a woman.”
His radical beliefs are echoed in the home, and by his staunchly loyal wife of almost two decades.
Zsuzsanna, a stay-at-home mother, is also an active online user and has a blog, stevenandersonfamily.blogspot.com, where she regularly posts updates about the large Anderson family.
She says she, her husband and children, whom she home-schools, “spend our days learning, working, playing and putting out all kinds of fires as we serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
On her blog, she echoes her husband’s extremist views on equal rights, the “sins” of other religions, TV, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and abortion.
The blog offers a snapshot into the Andersons’ other beliefs, such as opposition to child protective services, as they feel parents should have the ultimate authority over their children.
They believe that TV causes health issues such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and encourages laziness. They do not take their children to doctors for check-ups, and are against vaccinations.
Anderson has made his church’s extremist positions publicly known in recent times, gaining international notoriety for praying for the death of those he despises, in particular former US President Barack Obama for his support of abortion rights.
In 2009, Anderson told his congregation that he hates Obama and would “pray that he dies and goes to hell,” according to the SPLC.
A member of the pastor’s congregation then showed up at an Obama appearance armed with an assault rifle and a pistol.
Anderson’s sermons attack anyone who is against his beliefs, and even states in a YouTube sermon that Mother Teresa “is in hell” for being a “die-hard Roman Catholic.”
Further notoriety ensued following the deadliest shooting in US history: The 2016 massacre inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Anderson claimed in one of his uploaded YouTube sermons that “these people all should’ve been killed anyway” given that “the Bible says that homosexuals should be put to death.”
He also believes that the victims of France’s Bataclan terror attack deserved to die. “Well, you went to a death metal concert,” he told his congregation. “You bought the ticket.”
Anderson has made international headlines by being banned from several countries, most recently Ireland.
He became the first person to be banned from the country under a 20-year-old power on May 19, 2019.
Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan signed an exclusion order for Anderson under the Immigration Act 1999 “under my executive powers in the interests of public policy.” It followed a ban from the Netherlands a few weeks earlier.
Anderson has also been barred from entering Jamaica, South Africa and the UK. In 2016, he was deported from Botswana following a hate-filled speech broadcast on a local radio station.
The international outcry over his comments and beliefs have failed to dampen Anderson’s so-called mission to “save the world” by spreading his evangelical Christian message.
Recent entries on his Facebook page show that in June, he traveled to Cyprus to continue his “soul-winning” work.
What turned Anderson into a preacher of hate? In early YouTube posts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttxumEkHnKE), he hints at unhappy school years and said he hated going to seventh grade, citing being bullied.
But he says in his hate-filled sermons that he is glad he “got messed up at school” by “reprobates” because “it made me so mad that I’m still mad and I still hate their guts. I still hate those reprobates. I still hate those sodomites. I still hate those haters of God … these vile perverts of the flesh. I stood up to them then, and I’m going to stand up to them now.”
But being born into a family that already had staunchly fundamentalist Baptists likely laid the foundation for Anderson’s extremist views.
On other religions
“Islam is a disgusting, evil, violent, stupid religion for imbeciles.”
“Think about this. It (Islam) is all about war and conquest and taking over the world.”
“Most of the people in Ireland are following this pagan idolatrous religion known as Roman Catholicism where they bow down to … devils instead of actually believing the Bible. Instead of believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior, they’re confessing their sins to the priest who calls himself father and dresses like his mother in a dress.”
“There are 1.1 billion Hindus in the world, but you hardly ever hear preaching specifically against Hinduism. Not only that, but many of the philosophies of Hinduism have made their way into our American culture, and we need to expose them as unscriptural. They’re in a false religion and need to get saved.”
“Like other false religions, Hinduism is Satanic.”
“I’m against head-coverings because they associate you with the wrong crowd spiritually. Every church or pastor I’ve ever seen or known that taught that women were commanded to wear head-coverings was wrong on the Gospel.”
On former US President Barack Obama
“I’m going to pray that he dies and goes to hell.”
On Pope Francis
“I think that Pope Francis is the greatest false prophet on the earth at this time.”
“According to Pope Francis, everyone is redeemed by the blood of Christ, even an atheist. You don’t even have to believe in God. You don’t even have to believe in Jesus, according to Pope Francis, in order to be redeemed. First of all, the fact that he’s even calling himself father right there is blasphemy even in itself. Even the name the pope is blasphemy. The pope is just another language for the father. The Bible says: ‘Call no man your Father upon the earth, for one is your Father which is in heaven’.”
On women’s rights
“The Scripture actually teaches that it’s good, that it’s godly, that it’s right for a mother to stay home and raise her children. In fact, that’s the most important job (for) a woman.”
“We, as men, have a desire to lead a woman and not to be led by a woman. Women naturally have a desire to follow their husband, not to rule over their husband. Now, our society has tried to engineer that differently, through the brainwashing campaigns in school and TV and media, to try to get women to think that they really want to be powerful and bossy. Actually, it makes women miserable to be in that role that they don’t belong in. They’re much happier when they get into their proper role, you know, with the strong men leading them. Men are not naturally inclined to want to be in submission unto a woman.”
On the 2016 massacre in Orlando, Florida
“The Bible says that homosexuals should be put to death, in Leviticus 20:13. Obviously, it’s not right for somebody to just, you know, shoot up the place, because that’s not going through the proper channels. But these people all should’ve been killed anyway, but they should’ve been killed through the proper channels. As in, they should’ve been executed by a righteous government that would’ve tried them, convicted them and saw them executed.”
“The good news (about the massacre) is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world, because … these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles.”
“(They) were going to die of AIDS and syphilis and whatever else. They were going to die early anyway.”
On organ donation
“You should never be an organ donor. They’ll basically kill you for your organs because they make money out of organs. It’s impossible to take the organs out of a corpse.”
“There’s money associated with it. There’s money for these kidney transplants and organ transplants.”
“The sick infanticide demonic practice that we have here in the United States … we have murdered millions of babies.”
“Bunch of filthy murderous liberals can continue their abortion holocaust.”