You may have never heard of Steven Anderson. If you said that ordinary-sounding name to me and asked me who he was, my guess would be maybe he’s a new neighbor that moved down the street or the coach of my son’s Little League team.
The name on its own is nondescript enough not to raise an eyebrow.
Throw in the fact that Steven Anderson is pastor and the natural assumption to me would be he’s a man of faith, a fact I’d certainly respect.
But Steven Anderson, while indeed a pastor, goes far beyond generating anything that should remotely convey respect.
Anderson is a Baptist preacher in Phoenix. On the eve of President Obama’s recent visit there to pitch health care reform, Anderson went into a long diatribe – I hesitate to give it credence by calling it a sermon – about how Obama should be dead and his wife and children left without a father using Psalm 58 as Scriptural cover.
A CNN piece goes into greater detail about Anderson, Secret Service concerns about threats against Obama and one of Anderson’s parishioners as someone with a twisted view of the Second Amendment who felt it necessary to bring an assault rifle amid the crowd outside the venue where Obama spoke.
I don’t agree with everything Obama says or does, nor did I with all the Presidents I reasonably remember even having a vague opinion of, which would stretch back to Reagan. At this some of you who are older than me may chuckle, and that’s fine.
That aside, we are blessed to live a country with the amount of political freedoms and opportunities to express ourselves compared to much of the rest of the world. Saying that there aren’t a multitude of non-violent means to get your point across, especially with the Internet, is simply wrong.
So too is using the Christian faith as a shield to try and legitimize hate speech. Work within legitimate avenues to get your point across.
And also, Pastor Anderson, don’t, whether you intend to or not, use a broad brush to paint Christians as militant extremists to non-believers. You’re not doing any favors by illegitimately casting a pall over people of faith and conscience who still believe in respecting the law and lawmakers even when we disagree.