Jamaica confirmed that it barred a U.S. pastor with a history of inflammatory comments from entering its country.
Steven Anderson, a pastor from the Faithful World Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, was pulled off a flight to Jamaica just minutes before takeoff and told that he would no longer be allowed to enter the island nation, The Guardian reports.
Jamaica’s Ministry of National Security indicated that the decision to deny Anderson entry reflected fears that his presence on the island could incite hatred and violence.
“The decision was made by the chief immigration officer because the pastor’s statements are not conducive to the current climate,” a spokesman announced on Monday.
Anderson drew public condemnation when he alleged in a video that the millions of Jews who died in the Holocaust were not systematically exterminated via gas and cremation, but had instead succumbed to hunger and disease in forced labor camps, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Anderson also alleged that Jews lied about the Holocaust in order to establish the state of Israel, and that Zionists worked with the Nazis to facilitate the return of Jews to Palestine.
Anderson also gained infamy for praying for the death of Barack Obama and calling for gay people to be stoned to death, according to The Guardian. In 2016, when Omar Mateen murdered 49 individuals at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Anderson expressed gratitude that the mass shooting left “50 less paedophiles in the world.”
“I had a connecting flight in Atlanta,” Anderson told a reporter from The Jamaica Gleaner. “So as soon as I got to Atlanta, Delta Air Lines told me that they received a notification from Jamaica that I was not going to be allowed to enter.”
“The flight attendant just said that I had a message waiting for me at customer service,” Anderson recounted. “And the moment I got off the plane there was this man standing there, just right at the door waiting for me. He told me and left.”
The University of the West Indies also rescinded Anderson’s invitation to speak.
Anderson said he was surprised that Jamaica would ban him for his views on homosexuality; but this is not the first time that Anderson has been prohibited from traveling abroad. Due to his radical views, Anderson has previously been denied entry into Botswana, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Jay John, an activist passionately fighting against LGBTQ discrimination and mistreatment within the island nation, contends that homophobic attitudes and threats of violence are pervasive in Jamaica. He worried that Anderson’s visit would only exacerbate targeting and mistreatment of homosexuals, and he was instrumental in rallying international opposition to Anderson’s scheduled visit.
John started a Change.org petition urging Jamaicans to keep Anderson out of their country. By the time the Jamaican government announced that Anderson was denied entry, John’s petition had garnered over 38,000 signatures. John hopes that the government’s decision is evidence that attitudes in Jamaica are changing for the better.
“I am glad that leadership was shown in protecting LGBTQ Jamaicans, women and other minority groups which Steven Anderson has attacked over the past,” John said.