In the BBC documentary America’s Hate Preachers, Hannah Livingston discusses her findings, having spent six months exploring America’s most infamous Christian hate groups.
The documentary considers a wide array of perspectives including: the groups’ leaders, their family, friends and followers, and also those who are often targeted by the hate groups. Clips of churchgoers stating that “to me, LGBT stands for Let God Burn Them” whilst laughing is particularly shocking, and the documentary highlights how these views are not unique to that church.
It primarily focuses on Steven L Anderson, a pastor at Faithful World Baptist Church, and Ruben Isral, more of a confrontational street-preacher leading a band of ‘Bible Believers’. Anderson’s vehement hate has resulted in him being banned from entering the UK, South Africa and Botswana. In the documentary he offers examples of the insulting voicemails that he receives daily and even complains in his sermons that “isn’t it amazing how all the homos hate Christians and they’re not considered a hate group?”
Livingston manages to present the views as impartially and factually as possible, despite admitting discomfort at the barrage of abuse towards minority communities. The documentary highlights how the hate groups do not pursue the popular Christian belief that God loves everyone; instead, Anderson states that he hates homosexuals and believes this to be the correct position of every Christian. The documentary brings into question ideas surrounding free speech, as it is these laws that enable hate groups to spread homophobia and islamophobia. In fact, the Pride parade in Phoenix had to allow protesters to picket the event and had to be in an area in which they would be heard. Livingston directly compares this to the UK where those expressing similar views would be arrested.
Despite a gradual increase in tolerance throughout America, minorities and LGBT+ groups are still vulnerable to abuse. The documentary highlights that simultaneously these hate groups are becoming increasingly vocal and extremist.
Image: Alex Santosa @ Flickr