Pastor Steven Anderson is a curiosity to say the least. He’s a true fundamentalist — the only one I’ve ever encountered — who takes every part of the Bible at its word, impartially, regardless of what tribe that aligns him with. So he’s a right-wing LGBT-hater (since the Bible says the sodomites deserve to die, in both the Old and New Testaments) but a left-wing immigrant lover (since the Bible says to welcome to the resident alien among you). He’s a right-wing climate change denier (because the book of Revelation spells out the world’s fate much differently) but a left-wing granola when it comes to respecting the earth (not littering or polluting, not driving the car to work, and eating organic and health foods). He’s an anti-vaxxer but aggressively pro-mask (per Lev 13:45), and throughout the year of 2020 railed from the pulpit against Covidiots who refused to wear masks or distance socially. He condemns Zionism with as much fervor as Islamic jihadism. He thinks Democrats are wicked, but Republicans in some ways more so, and that Donald Trump in particular is the “most degenerate man to ever sit the Oval Office”. He even preached (in Oct 2016 and Oct 2020) that it might just be well if Hillary and Biden, wicked as they are, won the elections. You can say this for him: Anderson follows the Word no matter where it takes him, and he has lost church members because of it.
Perhaps no sermon illustrates Anderson’s ability to surprise more than his defense of the illegal alien. Here are the bullet points:
- (1) Don’t oppress the foreigner. According to the Bible, “You shall neither vex a stranger or oppress him, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21; 23:9). You should, in other words, know what it’s like to be a foreigner, because you were foreigners who came from Egypt.
- (2) One law for everyone — alien and citizen alike. “You should have one manner of law: for the foreigner as well as for one of your own country.” (Leviticus 24:22; Exodus 12:49). Many Christians today say that foreigners shouldn’t have the same rights as American citizens. But that’s not what the Bible teaches. If cruel and unusual punishment should not be inflicted on the citizen, then it shouldn’t be inflicted on the non-citizen; if the native has the right to not be searched without a warrant, then the stranger has the same right; if the citizen has freedom of religion, then so does the foreigner; if one has the right to a speedy jury trial, so does the other. These are Biblical principles that we should institute in the United States.
- (3) These rights come from the Creator and have nothing to do with citizenship. Even the Declaration of Independence says that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. Man-made laws should simply reinforce what the Creator intended.
- (4) The illegal alien should be our role model. The illegal aliens crossed an imaginary line. Get over it. They’re not mostly violent criminals. You say, “But it’s not fair, they don’t pay taxes, and they’re not documented!” Look, we should all strive to be undocumented. Let the illegal alien be our model. It’s almost like this mentality of “since I’m a slave, everyone else should be one too”, or “if I have to have a social security number and pay all these taxes, then everyone else should suffer with me”. It’s ridiculous logic. We should all be undocumented and not be carrying around so much paper and ID.
- (5) Illegal aliens pay taxes anyway. They may not pay federal income tax, but they pay almost every other kind of tax. They pay sales taxes; if they rent they pay property taxes indirectly; if they drive a car they pay gas tax. When they use a phone, they pay taxes on their phone bills.
- (6) Illegal aliens are being scapegoated, when in fact they help the economy. What’s really happening is that the government is stealing our money and giving it to the bankers and the military industrial complex. Those are the real thieves. Illegal immigrants are the scapegoat as to why the economy is messed up. In reality illegal aliens help the economy. They come here and spend money, and use businesses and use services.
- (7) The problem of welfare. There’s only thing that’s sort of a problem with the illegal immigrants is that they get some free stuff. But even that’s misleading, because no one should be getting free stuff. When you hear these Republican politicians say, “There should be a lifetime ban on illegal immigrants getting welfare,” no, here’s what we really need: a lifetime ban on anyone getting any welfare. These Republicans are just changing the issue. The problem has nothing to do with immigrants. It’s welfare, for anyone.
- (8) Bring them all in. Now look, I do believe that those who come here should learn to speak English and assimilate to this culture, just as I would have to learn Spanish if I moved to Mexico. You don’t just demand that everyone know your language. But let me tell you something: I’m all for as many people as possible immigrating to this country. Bring them all in, I say. Jump the border, so what?
- (9) Immigrants are not bad people, and in some ways better than Americans. You say, “But they’re bad people!” No, in some ways they’re actually better people than Americans. Do they have their own problems? Sure, but so do we. Let me tell you, whenever I went on the Spanish TV channel, and I was ripping on the homos, at least more of their viewers were actually on my side than when I went on the English-speaking TV channel. Are there criminals amongst them? Of course, but there are criminal American citizens too.
- (10) Don’t get brainwashed, by either the left or the right. Now you say, “Pastor Anderson, you’re a flaming liberal Democrat”. Look, you need to get past the false left-right paradigm. You have to be careful that you don’t get brainwashed by either the left-wing politicians or the right-wing ones, and that you read the Bible to figure out what you believe. And on the subject of the foreigner, the stranger, the Bible is clear: God says they should be treated the same.
- (11) Who would respect the imaginary line anyway? If you were the one living down in Mexico, and struggling to survive, what would you do? Are you really not going to cross that imaginary line? Or would you just cross it, if that’s what’s going to be the best thing for your family?
So there you have it. An argument that illegal immigrants should have the same rights as U.S. citizens — straight from the lips of that preacher who is banned from 34 countries because of his hard-core preaching against sodomites. I can’t help but love the irony of someone who is so welcoming of illegal aliens, but is not welcomed abroad in turn.
The Bible is incoherent and we’ve lost a lot of context so it’s impossible to be true to it. But Anderson is an interesting guy. The Arizona Baptists and Calvinists are the last of a dying breed – right wing, patriarchal, capitalists. Their decline (though I don’t share their religion) is a sign of the death of America.