Cape Town - Controversial Cape Town pastor Oscar Bougardt, who was previously sued for R1 million for his homophobic statements, says he stands firmly behind American gay-bashing pastor Steven Anderson.
The evangelist from the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona, USA, is on his way to South Africa on a “soul-winning marathon”, but has found no love here.
Bougardt says he has arranged accommodation for Anderson, after the pastor was banned from a hotel and two restaurant chains after comments that gays should be executed.
Bougardt, of Calvary Hope Ministries, says although he doesn’t agree with Anderson’s viewpoint that gays should be killed, he is helping him as Anderson is “a man of the cloth and is only preaching the gospel”.
Bougardt made contact with Anderson earlier this month after an outcry over his impending visit by gay rights groups.
An online petition by the LGBTI (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, had reached more 36 000 signatures on Tuesday.
They called on Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba to restrict Anderson from entering the country.
The minister has said while he sympathises with the LGBTI community, he could not ban Anderson as he didn’t need a visa to enter SA, and he also hadn’t been found guilty of any crime.
Anderson made headlines in 2014 when he called for homosexuals to be executed.
And in June, he sparked outrage when he said a day after 49 people were gunned down in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that they deserved to die.
Anderson preached: “The good news is that there are 50 less paedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and paedophiles.”
Bougardt says everything will be ready for Anderson when he lands in Johannesburg on September 18.
The reverend will be flying to Joburg to personally meet Anderson and his entourage.
“When I heard there was a petition asking him not to come to Cape Town and Johannesburg, I sent him an email telling him I am willing to help him find accommodation,” he said.
“I have found accommodation, which I cannot divulge.”
The pastor added that Anderson is yet to accept his offer.
Bougardt had been reported to the SA Human Rights Commission several times for hate speech, including for statements including: “Bishop Desmond Tutu is mentally sick who has his own religious beliefs that says it is OK to be homosexual.
“He is… leading all homosexuals straight to hell.”
However, the Strandfontein preacher insists he will “cut myself off” from Anderson if he starts preaching that gays should be killed.
During a radio interview at the weekend, Anderson insisted his journey to South Africa was not about preaching against homosexuality, despite calling gay people “abominations”, “filthy” and “violent” in interviews.
Bougardt said: “His idea is not to preach about homosexuality, he is going to do a sermon, a crusade on spreading the gospel. He is like me, when we open our mouths people think we are going to preach about homosexuality.”
“Let me be honest, the word of God says homosexuality is an abomination. If he comes here, and preaches the gospel, I will stand by him.
“If he says homosexuals must be killed, I will not stand by him.”
He is also ready to help Anderson establish a branch of his church in South Africa.
“He has indicated he wishes to open a church in Johannesburg, but I have told him Cape Town is better.
“I would also like to visit his church in America.”
Spur in Festive Mall, Kempton Park, Wimpy and the Premier Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport – all venues Anderson had made bookings with – have banned Anderson after learning of his hate-preaching.
The US pastor claims he was targeted by South African pranksters last week, after a series of advertisements was placed online claiming his church was giving away free food. He’s also received pizzas and magazine subscriptions which he had not ordered.
In Cape Town, gay celebrities, former Mr and Miss Gay Cape Town, Errol Stroebel and his partner Kat Gilardi, slammed Bougardt for backing Anderson.
Stroebel said: “What pastor spreads hate instead of God’s love? Bougard’s licence needs to be revoked.”
Kat adds the gay community is united against Anderson: “By allowing Anderson to come here is to spread the hate, which can lead to other things, like what happened in Orlando.”
Gay Rights group Triangle Project says they are “not surprised that Mr Bougardt has embraced the hateful and distorted message of Steven Anderson”.
However, they have turned the other cheek.
Spokesperson Matthew Clayton says: “Mr Anderson and Mr Bougardt must be afforded both their right to freedom of expression and freedom of religious belief, but neither of these rights should allow them to spew hate, especially where it places lives in danger.”