Preacher Steven Anderson banned in Schengen

Out of the countries scheduled to be on the radical preacher Steven Andersons European tour the Dutch authorities were the fastest to issue a travel visa ban, effective through the entire Schengen territory. Stevens European tour now looks to be a trip to Ireland and back.

This is not the first time Steven Anderson stir up enough attention to get on the immigration and security offices radar in EU. He’s already banned from entry to England for one. His style and rhetoric is extreme even for American standards; calling homosexuals pedophiles and plague-bearers, praying for the death of his perceived antagonists and using generally inflamed and hysterical rhetoric. While his church organization in Arizona is small, his outreach online much grander. With a decent Swedish audience.

I’m a bit torn about the decision to ban Steven from entry. My immediate and positive response risks being colored by my fondness for the Netherlands, whose authorities issued the ban. With enough domestic cooks and extremists, the import – albeit temporary – of another we can do without.

With that said there’s a danger in European countries authorities shifting an increased focus on banning foreigners from entry based on unpopular opinion alone. There’s value in having extremists and radicals into the public discourse, in person and through correspondence. It highlights their ideas, ideologies and motivations and makes the individuals, the groups and its supporters open for criticism that would have otherwise been evaded. A lack of radical voices in the religious debate also risks reducing the already fairly poor and confused domestic religious discussions to be colored solely by the harmless softball rhetoric used by the including, community-centric religious communities. Where the divisive, hateful and radical commandments, preachment and policies are seen as extreme peripheral views instead of common, under different levels of disguise, in Sweden just as everywhere else on the planet.

Steven Anderson is not unique. Through the years I’ve mistaken him for one of many Kent Hovind sycophants. One of the bunch. And I believe the two main reasons he sticks out here enough to even write about here is his Swedish family name and his criticism of Sweden and Scandinavia. An agitator that paves way through strong opinions conflicting with the perceived norm – both in content and in level of conviction. A little bit like a Jordan B Peterson replacing the metaphysical substrates for swearing and screaming.

I can’t shake my gently positive attitude towards the ban. But I hope Dutch and Swedish authorities take some time to pause and analyze this method and attack vector. To minimize the risk of the visa bans become a political weapon as opposed to a tool for national security.

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