[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]
Three Phoenix-area rabbis were recently tricked into participating in the production of an anti-Semitic film by Steven Anderson, the Arizona pastor who has made headlines with his vitriolic rants about LGBT people and President Obama.
Anderson, whose Tempe-based Faith Temple Baptist Church is among the most hardcore anti-LGBT hate groups in the country, has attracted attention for his rants wishing death upon President Obama and gays and lesbians, as well as for declaring that birth control was turning American women into “whores.” At one point, Anderson was tasered at a checkpoint on the Mexico border while defying a patrolman’s orders. He recently made headlines by predicting that America could have an AIDS-free Christmas if all gays are killed, as the Bible demands.
But in recent months, Anderson’s ministry has also taken a decidedly anti-Semitic turn, as Stephen Lemons explored in a recent Phoenix New Times post.
Anderson has given sermons—preserved on YouTube—covering such subjects as “The Jews and Their Lies,” “Hebrew Roots Movement Exposed,” “The Jews Are Antichrists,” “Jews Worship a Different God Than Christians,” “The Jews Are the Racists,” and the ever-popular “The Jews Killed Jesus.”
Anderson and his cohort, Paul Wittenberger, are currently coproducing an anti-Semitic film titled Marching to Zion, described on YouTube as providing “Scriptural evidence that the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people.” It also purports to reveal that rabbinical Judaism’s Messiah is the Antichrist; among the “topics covered” are “Blasphemous teachings of the Talmud and Kabbalah,” “Modern DNA evidence of the Jews’ ancestry,” and “Proof that Christian Zionism is a modern phenomenon.”
Four Phoenix-area rabbis are interviewed for the film, which has prompted outrage in the Jewish community.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a statement saying it was “deeply troubled by the upcoming release of a new ‘documentary’ geared toward Christian audiences that purportedly will focus on ‘the history of the Jews,’ but in fact will likely serve as a tool for denigrating Jews and Judaism.”
Anderson recently boasted during one of his Internet radio broadcasts how he came to include the four rabbis:
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Well, here’s how I got the four rabbis to participate. I got a list of every rabbi in Arizona, and I think I got 41 rabbis. And I just figured, you know, if I contact enough rabbis, somebody’s going to agree to do it. And so I actually contacted all 41 of them, and I told them I was making a film about Judaism and the history of the nation of Israel, which is true, and I gave them a whole list of questions and those questions are the questions that I asked in the interview.
So they knew the questions they were being asked going in. I told them it was going to be about Judaism and the nation of Israel, but I didn’t tell them whether it was going to be positive or negative. Well, they just assume it’s going to be positive, because they assume that I’m going to be like the rest of evangelicals in Christianity and bow down to the chosen ones and worship them and say how great they are.
So basically, all four of them are going to hate this movie, of course, but it’s the truth, they’re false prophets and they deserve to be exposed and I didn’t lie to them, I mean, everything I told them was the truth.
According to the Jewish News, the rabbis who took part did not realize the nature of the production. Anderson allegedly described himself as “an interested layperson” making a documentary explaining elements of the Jewish faith.
Rabbi Irwin Wiener, one of the four Jewish interviewees, was outraged: “The subterfuge that he used to get these interviews from us is beyond belief.”
According to the report, Anderson had told the interviewees that he was making the documentary for the Public Broadcasting System. “When he used the words PBS to me, it sounded legitimate and I didn’t pursue it any further,” Wiener said.
Another interviewee, Orthodox Rabbi Reuven Mann, was blindsided by the discovery that he had been tricked, since he felt a responsibility to explain his faith to anyone interested. “I’m very open about this and I don’t suspect that anyone has any ulterior motives,” he said.
But Anderson was defensive in his Internet broadcast when his interlocutor about the rabbis—who in fact, was Stephen Lemons—pressed him on whether he had deceived his subjects, notably with the claim to be making a PBS documentary.
“Well, guess what, who is a liar but he that deny that Jesus is the Christ,” Anderson retorted. “He’s anti-Christ. So basically, if somebody is lying and saying that Jesus isn’t the messiah, it also does not surprise me that they would lie and say I was selling the film to PBS.”
Lemons then asked Anderson if he was being deceptive himself. “Ooh,” he said mockingly, “it’s possible that I could be lying too. It’s also possible that the Bible could be lying but guess what the Bible’s not lying and it’s the Jews that are lying.”
Anderson then hung up on Lemons, and continued with his anti-Semitic rant: “So obviously this is somebody who is calling in trying to defend the anti-Christ Jews and he’d rather listen to somebody who calls himself a rabbi and spits on the name of Jesus Christ and calls Jesus a bastard and his mother a whore, and he thinks I’m lying because I supposedly claimed I was selling the film to PBS? No I never said any such thing, and the lying Jewish rabbi that told you that made it up.”