Bakeries, florist shops and other venues have become a surprising battleground for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in recent years, with many right-wing pundits proudly supporting business owners who have turned away same-sex couples seeking cakes, bouquets and other wedding-related services.
So it comes as a bit of a surprise that Pastor Steven Anderson of Arizona's Faithful Word Baptist Church takes a defiant stance against those conservative entrepreneurs, arguing that they are actually "being too nice" to the LGBT community and, as such, "are not standing for the word of God."
In a fiery, somewhat convoluted sermon originally posted by The New Civil Rights Movement, the right-wing pastor pointed to Oregon's Sweet Cakes by Melissa, whose owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein, were recently slapped with a fine of at least $135,000 for turning away a lesbian couple who sought a wedding cake in 2013.
He said he didn't feel sorry that the Kleins had been fined and shuttered their business in the wake of the controversy, because he believes that "they are tools of the media to brainwash you."
Arguing that the Kleins attend a "stupid, liberal church," Anderson notes, "[Melissa] is not taking a stand [against same-sex marriage] at all. It's weak, it's worthless. She is part of what is destroying America."
He then adds, "Who thinks it's a hard decision if some faggot wants you to make them a wedding cake? Anyone struggling with that right now?"
"Nobody even asked them to cater a wedding with cheap, stupid pizza," he says.
Anderson, who "holds no college degree but has well over 140 chapters of the Bible memorized word-for-word" according to his church's website, is no stranger to controversial declarations. In early December, he argued that "we can have an AIDS-free world by Christmas" if gays were "executed."
He has also suggested that women should be silent in church, claiming in a sermon, "I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man."