Two US-based faith groups, the Westboro Baptist Church and Arizona’s Faith Word Baptist Church (presided over by Pastor Steven Anderson), have posted hateful messages online about George Michael.
The British singer died at home on Christmas Day from suspected heart failure.
His death has been met with messages of grief and condolence from celebrities, friends and fans around the world.
However, leaders of the two controversial churches have taken the star’s death as an opportunity to warn gay people that they risk eternal punishment.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church have previously been banned by the UK Home Office from entering the UK because of their extremist views.
In Twitter postings following the singer’s death, the church called on the Home Office to lift its ban, and said George Michael ‘lived a life of proud sin/paid price for it. Last Christmas Before Hell’.
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSaysRepent) December 26, 2016
It included a vile video featuring the Wham song Last Christmas, and children holding signs saying ‘God hates fags’.
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSaysRepent) December 27, 2016
‘Being a Sodomite shaves about 20 years off your life expectancy’
Pastor Steven Anderson has also previously been barred entry from the UK for his extremist views. These have included calling for the murder of gay people from his pulpit.
Anderson has previously posted a video in which he expressed no sympathy for those killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting.
On 26 December, a posting appeared on Faith Word Baptist Church’s official Facebook page about the singer’s death.
‘George Michael, an open Sodomite, just died at age 53. That makes sense because being a Sodomite shaves about 20 years off your life expectancy, and the life expectancy in the USA for males is 76 years old.
‘”But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.” – Psalm 55:23’
In recent months, Anderson has made attempts to tour African countries to spread his particular interpretation of Biblical teachings. In September he was banned from entering South Africa because of his previous remarks about gay people.
George Michael was publicly outed when he was arrested by police in Los Angeles for lewd behavior in 1998 – an incident he later parodied in the video for his song Outside.
He was a proud gay man who often spoke out against homophobia. It was a stance that made him an icon for millions around the world.
In one tweet from 2011, which has been retweeted many more thousands of times since his death, he said, ‘I have never and will never apologise for my sex life! Gay sex is natural, gay sex is good!’
I HAVE NEVER AND WILL NEVER APOLOGISE FOR MY SEX LIFE ! GAY SEX IS NATURAL, GAY SEX IS GOOD! NOT EVERYBODY DOES IT, BUT…..HA HA!
— George Michael (@GeorgeMichael) May 13, 2011