Despite being banned in Botswana and South Africa, Pastor Steven Anderson is determined to spread his church’s hate in Southern Africa.
It now appears that his Faithful Word Baptist Church is planning to open a church in Malawi, a country where LGBTI bigotry has already deeply divided society.
Mambaonline can reveal that a Facebook page, titled Faithful Word Baptist Church Malawi has been set up.
While there is little information on the page, it suggests that the church’s Garrett Kirchway is leading the initiative. He was initially sent to Southern Africa as a missionary to head up the failed Botswana branch (FWBC Botswana).
According to a church blog, Kirchway “has been a faithful member of Faithful Word Baptist Church since he was saved and baptised in September 2008”. He is described as being a “missionary, or what the Bible calls an ‘evangelist'”.
Kirchway planned to move to Africa permanently, with the American church announcing that it would be paying his salary until FWBC Botswana became self-sustained. It appears that the plan has now shifted from Botswana to Malawi.
The church’s foray into Malawi is troubling as it is likely to be welcomed by local religious leaders who have vocally campaigned against the LGBTI community.
The status of LGBTI people in Malawi is mired in confusion. In December last year, Justice Minister Samuel Tembenu announced a moratorium on the arrest of Malawians for having gay sex, which carries a penalty of 14 years in prison.
In February, however, a group called the Young Pastors Coalition of Malawi took the matter to the High Court in Mzuzu, which ruled that the government could not suspend laws and that only Parliament may do so; leaving the community in limbo.
Adding to the volatile situation, another group, The Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission (EPJC) of Evangelical Association of Malawi, plans to next month hold a series of national marches and protests against homosexuality, same-sex marriage and abortion as a “celebration of life and family”.
Hendrik Baird from GaySA Radio, who led the campaign against Anderson in South Africa, said that he was not surprised by the church’s incursion into Malawi “as we have been expecting him to make alternate plans to enter Africa after his failed missions to South Africa and Botswana”.
“We are concerned that his message will inflame an already negative situation for LGBTI people there,” commented Baird. “We are mobilising our contacts to alert the organisations and politicians in that country to the fact that this hate group is planning to spread their message there.”
He added: “It is clear that these religious fanatics are determined to make money off the people of Africa through their message of hate and intolerance. We will continue the work we started and mobilise whatever resources we can to protect our LGBTI brothers and sisters in Malawi from further hate and prosecution.”
In September, Anderson and his North American followers were denied entry into South Africa. Days later, Anderson was deported from Botswana after he called for the execution of gay people on radio.
Anderson’s Arizona-based Faithful Word Baptist Church is listed as a hate group in the US. He has preached that killing gay people would free the world from the AIDS epidemic and praised the Orlando massacre as “good news” because “there’s 50 less paedophiles in this world”.