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An anti-gay pastor tried to visit Jamaica. The entire country said, 'No thanks.'

He's running out of places to spread his hateful message.

An anti-gay pastor tried to visit Jamaica. The entire country said, 'No thanks.'

Steven Anderson is infamous for his hateful statements against Barack Obama, the LGBTQ community, and many others.

But when the Arizona preacher tried bringing his divisive message to Jamaica, the country's leaders responded with a message of their own — stay home.

Anderson is the pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona, which the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled an "anti-gay hate group" based on Anderson's statements celebrating acts of violence against LGBTQ people. Anderson was reportedly planning to board a flight to Kingston for a religious mission when he was informed he was no longer welcome in Jamaica.


Photo by Gail Frederick/Flickr

A spokesperson for Jamaica's Ministry of National Security explained the move in a statement:

"The decision was made by the chief immigration officer because the pastor’s statements are not conducive to the current climate."

The ban is a surprising move for many, considering Jamaica has a less-than-stellar record on LGBTQ issues. In 2014 the Human Rights Watch issued a report outlining violences encountered by LGBTQ people in Jamaica, ranging from discrimination to criminalization to assault. But in the years since, the country has been making strides toward equality, with the ban on Anderson just the most recent in a string of efforts to increase LGBTQ equality on the island.

Image via Wikicommons

The announcement of the ban was met with praise from individuals and LGBTQ groups alike.

The decision was praised by the Human Rights Campaign, which credited activism from LGBTQ advocates around the world as pressuring Jamaica into issuing the ban.

A change.org petition asking Jamaica to ban Anderson helped create momentum too, garnering nearly 40,000 signatures.

Change.org

And of course, Anderson quickly weighed in on the decision as well. In an unintentionally ironic post to his YouTube channel, Anderson vented about what he called a movement toward a "one-world government" for following the lead of the other four countries who have barred his from visiting. "Apparently, Jamaica they can't really do their own thing, because obviously this is an outside influence," he said.

Photo by Chad Sparkes/Flickr

‌That's a lot coming from a person who wanted to visit another country to preach his own perspective on what he thinks should be universal moral laws.

Jamaica isn't the first to make clear that Anderson, and his message, are not welcome.‌

It's now the fifth country to ban Anderson from visiting, as he was previously barred from entering the U.K., South Africa, and Botswana after announcing plans to visit each country. Those countries banned Anderson after his repeated public statements calling for the stoning deaths of members of the LGBTQ community, advocating the death of President Barack Obama, and denying the Holocaust.

It goes to show that public pressure can be a powerful tool in supporting LGBTQ people around the globe.

Jamaica still has a long way to go in addressing its own support LGBTQ communities, but this ban and the country's improving attitude toward equality shows that it's moving in the right direction. With some helpful public pressure, they're following the example set by other countries when it comes to responding to missionaries for hatred like Anderson.

No one is stopping Steven Anderson from holding, or even expressing, his hateful views. But, as Jamaica has shown, communities and nations can choose not to enable those who preach violence and hate against others.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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In 2015, Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price had a life-changing epiphany.

Price, who founded Gravity with his brother in 2004, was out hiking in the Cascade Mountains with his friend, Valerie. She told him her landlord had raised her rent by $200 and she was struggling to get by on her $40,000 a year income. Price, who was making $1.1 million a year as CEO of Gravity, was struck by her story. Not only did he feel for Valerie—a military veteran working two jobs and barely making ends meet—realized that some of his own employees might be facing similar struggles.

And they were. One employee frankly told him his entry-level salary was a rip-off. Another employee had secretly been working at McDonald's outside of work hours to make ends meet. So Price decided to make a drastic change by investing in his employees.

He researched how much money the average person would need in order to live comfortably and settled on $70,000 a year. In one fell swoop, he dropped his own salary to that amount, while also making it the minimum salary for anyone who worked at Gravity.

The move drew media coverage—and dire predictions from pundits. On Fox News and other conservative outlets he was called "foolish," a "socialist" and a "lunatic of lunatics." Rush Limbaugh called the company policy "pure unadulterated socialism" that was "going to fail" and should be a case study in MBA programs on how socialism doesn't work. Talking heads predicted that his employees would end up in the welfare line.

Six years later, Price has proved the haters wrong—by a lot.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less