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Anti-gay American pastor could preach in Jamaica if sponsored

Saturday, January 13, 2018

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JAMAICA'S Ministry of Labour, amidst a pushback from gay rights lobbyists and other rights activists, has sought to clarify whether controversial anti-gay American preacher Steven Anderson will need a work permit to minister in the country later this month.

The ministry, in a statement, made it clear that any visiting minister of religion who does not have a work permit nor a specified exemption from one, is prohibited from evangelising in Jamaica, and would be in breach of the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act.

At the same time, the ministry pointed out that under exemptions in the regulations, people employed as ministers of religion by any religious organisation approved in writing by the ministry are exempt from needing a work permit. For a minister of religion to benefit from this exemption, that person must be employed or sponsored by a religious organisation which has been so designated by Parliament, the ministry said in its statement.

It was not clear up to yesterday if the American preacher was being sponsored by a religious group here.

On a radio programme earlier this week, Anderson said he did not have a work permit, but pointed out that he would be basically practising street evangelism on a “one-on-one” basis. He said the purpose of his planned visit to Jamaican was not to talk about homosexuality.

Anderson, who heads the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona, United States, has been banned from a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, and Botswana.

He has reportedly called for homosexuals to be stoned to death and made controversial comments regarding last year's mass shooting of 49 persons at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

If found in breach of Jamaica's labour laws he could be liable to a fine of up to half a million Jamaican dollars if convicted in a parish court. He could also be sentenced to prison with or without hard labour for up to six months in addition to that fine.

Jamaica's labour laws prohibits foreigners — except Caribbean Community nationals who have a skilled certificate — from engaging in activities here for monetary reward or profit, or from being employed in Jamaica without a valid work permit issued by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

A petition has been mounted on the website Change.org, seeking to get the Jamaican Government to block Anderson from coming into the country. Among other things highlighted in the petition is that Anderson has “attacked women”, asserting that they should not work, lead in church, be independent, vote, nor dress how they wish, and that “men shouldn't be under the tyranny of women”.

Accusing the pastor of having “no respect for humanity”, the petition also noted that he has referred to medical doctors as sorcerers and in April 2016 said, in regard to the Orlando shooting, that there are “50 less paedophiles in the world”.

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