Well here’s something entirely unsurprising. Steven Anderson, that vile, hateful asshole pastor from Arizona who says we should kill all gay people and the world would be AIDS-free by Christmas, is also an anti-Semite who lied to rabbis and holocaust survivors to get them to appear in an anti-Semitic documentary he made.
Earlier this year, Rabbi Leo Abrami, a Holocaust survivor who has served at Reform and Conservative synagogues throughout his decades-long career, was contacted by a man who said that he was making a documentary explaining some aspects of the Jewish faith. He offered to come to Abrami’s home in Sun City West and arrived with a cameraman. His visitor turned out to be Anderson, although Anderson identified himself as “an interested layperson” who was curious about Judaism, Abrami said. “I made the mistake of not Googling him before he came.”
Anderson also contacted Rabbi Reuven Mann, an Orthodox rabbi; Rabbi Irwin Wiener, who serves congregations in Sun Lakes and Sun City West; and Jeffrey Schesnol, a Humanistic ceremonial leader training to become a madrikh (guide).
“The subterfuge that he used to get these interviews from us is beyond belief,” said Wiener, who noted that the man mentioned a PBS documentary. “When he used the words PBS to me, it sounded legitimate and I didn’t pursue it any further,” he said.
Mann said he feels “like it’s a responsibility to explain Judaism to anyone that’s interested” and is asked to do so frequently. “I’m very open about this and I don’t suspect that anyone has any ulterior motives,” he said. He was contacted this past summer and although he said he doesn’t remember the particulars, he remembers being told by his interviewers that they were working on a documentary about religion in general and that they wanted someone to speak about Judaism.
“They were extremely polite and friendly,” Mann said. “We set it up in my study, and they were asking me all kinds of questions. They seemed pretty curious and knowledgeable, and I was answering very honestly.”
Schesnol said that his interviewer told him that he was working on behalf of a Los Angeles-based film company and the documentary would be used as an educational tool to help people – Jews and non-Jews – understand Jewish concepts and the differences between the various branches of Judaism. The interview was filmed at the Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center in downtown Phoenix.
They were all asked to sign a release to approve use of the material from the interviews. Now, all four are being used in promotional materials for “Marching to Zion,” an anti-Jewish film that is slated to be released in March 2015.
Last month, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement about this film, which Anderson is co-producing with Paul Wittenberger, whom the ADL calls a conspiracy-oriented filmmaker from Los Angeles. ADL stated that 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.”
In a promotional video, Anderson said that the film has two purposes: “to prove that the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people in the New Testament but that we as believers, we as Christians, are God’s chosen people. And secondly, to prove that the modern-day nation of Israel over in the Middle East is a complete fraud.”
How entirely unsurprising that a bigot of one type would also be a bigot of another type. And a liar. But he’s lying for Jesus, so that makes it okay.