Steven Anderson: ‘unless they ban the internet in Ireland, I’m not really banned in Ireland’
Controversial US pastor Steven L Anderson thanked Ireland for banning him because he was getting lots of extra listeners. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images
The controversial preacher, who has previously expressed extreme anti-gay and anti-Semitic views, is the first person banned from Ireland by exclusion powers introduced in 1999.
Mr Anderson told the Niall Boylan Show on Irish radio station Classic Hits FM he did not plan to appeal the ban.
“I would not humble myself to that wicked and evil person. He’s anti the true word of God.”
Mr Anderson said he has not heard directly from the Irish Government about his ban. “I just heard it through the grapevine.”
However, it did not come as a surprise as he is already banned from 31 countries. “It didn’t really shock me that Ireland is number 32.”
Mr Anderson said he had planned to visit Ireland to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“My visit had absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality or abortion. It’s only the media that fixates on these issues. There are all kinds of other issues that I care about and those things make up less than five per cent of my preaching.”
He says the event in Ireland was going ahead with a different preacher scheduled.
Mr Anderson also thanked Ireland for banning him. “The internet is way bigger than me. I am getting lots of extra listeners because the media put me on the front page.
“So unless they ban the internet in Ireland, I’m not really banned in Ireland.”
Mr Anderson also said it was an honour to be banned. “I’m proud of being banned in all these countries. I’m collecting them like beanie babies.”
Ireland is going to be punished for the ban and will “feel the judgement and wrath of God,” he added.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has called on the Minister for Justice to explain why he used executive powers to exclude Mr Anderson from visiting Ireland.
Liam Herrick, executive director at the ICCL, said this seemed to be the exercise of a very exceptional power, and that we need more information about how this decision was made.
“The law requires that a decision of this type must be necessary and must be in furtherance of public policy,” he said.
“The standard of necessary is a very high threshold, so we need to know why this was necessary or the only way of dealing with this particular difficulty, and we also need to know what is the public policy that requires this step.”
“Because this decision affects fundamental rights in such an important way, we believe there’s a duty to give reasons in this case too”.
He told RTÉ there was a wider question about what we and what this individual or his organisation are trying to achieve.
“Sometimes being banned serves their political ends. Sometimes confronting hate speech and messaging of this type directly, protesting and ridiculing what’s being said can actually be more effective in the longer term,” he said.
“The use of exceptional legal powers needs to be very tightly defined and tightly explained and I think we need more information from the Minister on this,” he told RTÉ.
A spokesperson for the Minister said he would not be commenting further, other than to confirm that he signed the order to exclude Mr Anderson “with immediate effect in the interest of public policy”.