About the Springfield City Council Speech

**UPDATED (10/22/12, 2:17pm)**

As you can imagine, all of this has caught me off-guard. But please know how much I continue to appreciate all of your kind words of affirmation and support. I continue to try to keep up with as many responses and requests as I can, and I greatly appreciate your patience. I promise to try to get to as many as I possibly can. Here are a couple of quick notes related to several recurring themes:

(1) If you have an interview request, please send it by email, as opposed to the phone.

(2) I’m not going to take the time to engage in a game of Bible proof-texting with those who disagree with me on this matter, but just so you know I take the Bible very seriously (if not always literally), interested readers are welcome to check out a sermon series I preached back in July titled “What Does the Bible Really Say About Homosexuality?”

(3) Here is a helpful resource from Soulforce: “What the Bible Says–And Doesn’t Say–About Homosexuality”

Here are a handful of thoughtful books worth reading:

Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church by Jack Rogers

Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches, ed. by Walter Wink

What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality, by Daniel Helminiak


The last few hours have been a bit of a whirlwind for me, to say the least. I’m really heartened by all of the emails, Facebook messages, and kind words that I’ve received over the last 24 hours. As I read each one, I don’t see them simply as messages that seek to affirm a particular talk I gave on a particular night in Springfield, MO (as grateful as I am for such affirmations), but rather, I view them as a reflection of the thousands — indeed, the millions — of people who, on a daily basis, are journeying together because we believe that our world can be a better place, a fairer place, a more beautiful place — for all people and not just for some — and we won’t stop calling for a more beautiful world to be born. I’m also grateful for all of the people who have come before us — many whose names history won’t recall — who have allowed us to be where we are now, on whose shoulders we stand. These folks may not be famous — more times than not they are friends or family members who have bravely told their story, often in the face of major consequences. They are the ones who have brought us to this place, and we carry their stories with us as we try to build a a more just world.

In time I hope to respond to each email I receive, but at this point I simply can’t keep up with all of them. But please know how grateful I am to each of you. Here are a couple of things that consistently come up in the emails, so I thought I’d share some quick responses here:

A lot of people ask, “How can a pastor who values the Bible take this kind of stance?” Truth be told, there are a bunch of pastors and people of faith across the country who are open and affirming — not in spite of their faith, but precisely because of it. And the number of open and affirming people of faith is rapidly increasing. Brian McLaren offers the following perspective, which deeply resonates with my experiences as a pastor:

I inherited a theology that told me [that] homosexuality is a sin, so although we should not condemn (i.e. stone them), we must tell people to “go and sin no more.” Believe me, for many years as a pastor I tried to faithfully uphold this position, and sadly, I now feel that I unintentionally damaged many people in doing so. Thankfully, I had a long succession of friends who were gay. And then I had a long succession of parishioners come out to me. They endured my pronouncements. They listened and responded patiently as I brought up the famous six or seven Bible passages again and again. They didn’t break ranks with me and in fact showed amazing grace and patience to me when I was showing something much less to them.

Over time, I could not square their stories and experiences with the theology I had inherited. So I re-opened the issue, read a lot of books, re-studied the Scriptures, and eventually came to believe that just as the Western church had been wrong on slavery, wrong on colonialism, wrong on environmental plunder, wrong on subordinating women, wrong on segregation and apartheid (all of which it justified biblically) … we had been wrong on this issue. In this process, I did not reject the Bible. In fact, my love and reverence for the Bible increased when I became more aware of the hermeneutical assumptions on which many now-discredited traditional interpretations were based and defended. I was able to distinguish “what the Bible says” from “what this school of interpretation says the Bible says,” and that helped me in many ways.

So – many years before I learned I had members of my own close family who were gay – my view changed. As you can imagine, when this issue suddenly became a live issue in my own family, I was relieved that I was already in a place where I would not harm them as (I’m ashamed to say this) I had harmed some gay people (other people’s sons and daughters) earlier in my ministry. [read the rest of Brian’s post here]

Secondly, to the many of you who said, “I wish I lived in Springfield, because yours is a church I could actually attend!” Well, this kind of statement makes my day. We have tried to build a community of faith based on the intentional welcome of all people, especially those who have felt hurt and/or alienated by the church and/or Christianity. Every Sunday, we have a welcome statement that goes like this:

No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here:

If you are young or old, you are welcome

If you have brown skin, black skin, white skin, yellow skin or any color of skin, you are welcome

If you are married or single, you are welcome

If you are gay or straight, you are welcome

If you cannot hear or see, you are welcome

If you are sick or well, you are welcome

If you are a man or a woman, you are welcome

If you are happy or sad, you are welcome

If you are rich or poor, powerful or weak, you are welcome

If you believe in God some of the time or none of the time or all of the time, you are welcome here

I also want you to know that there are several churches around the US with a similar ethos. We may not be big churches or fancy churches, but we are there. We may listen to Stephen Colbert more than the pope, but we are there. We may not have a Starbucks in our building (we may not even have a building!), but we are there. So I encourage you to check out some of the communities of faith in your area — perhaps those that are part of the United Church of Christ (which is not the same thing as the Church of Christ), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), The Disciples of Christ, or perhaps the Episcopalian Church. While none are perfect by any stretch of the imagination (some of the churches aren’t very big, and often there aren’t very many young people), these denominations ordain openly gay clergy and tend to work toward equality for all people. As the United Church of Christ likes to say, “Our faith is 2,000 years old. Our thinking is not.” If you live in a particular area and want a suggestion on churches to perhaps visit, please feel free to send me a message, I’d be glad to help as I can.

Finally, a quick disclaimer related to my speech: I recognize that the discrimination experienced by African-Americans in the history of the United States has its own nuances and characteristics, so it’s important to highlight the different ways that discrimination functions in our society. With the great Cornel West, I believe that any form of discrimination and oppression (whether based on race, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation) is problematic, and we should constantly work toward building a better world. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone who has experienced discrimination has experienced it in the same way (this is similar to bell hooks’ observation related to the film Crash, in which she mentioned that for all its strengths Crash didn’t adequately delve into the differences in race relations between a variety of different ethnic groups, and that the history of slavery in the US leads to experiences among African-Americans that are not necessarily the same as the experiences of, say, Muslims in America.) To be sure, all forms of discrimination are obviously problematic, and none are acceptable. But the experience of discrimination in the US is not a one-size-fits-all category, and the more we recognize the differences between various forms of discrimination the more we honor those who’ve experienced discrimination, and the better equipped we are to work toward building a better world that honors the integrity and dignity of all people.

My gratitude to each of you as we try to build a better world together, as we try to live into what Desmond Tutu once called the dreams of God for this world. Not for some people, but for all people.

158 thoughts on “About the Springfield City Council Speech

  • Please add me to the many who deeply appreciate your speech. I am so glad that it is “making the rounds,” and hope that eyes and hearts will be opened.
    Sarah R, Chicago

  • I’ll spare sending you another email to read, but I just wanted to say Attaboy! People like you, with the power to influence others, that use it for the greater good are truly to be admired. Keep fighting the good fight, and thank you.

    Also, your tactic was quite wonderful. I started to feel sick during your video, and when you changed tack to reveal your endgame it was masterful. I imagine you are quite effective from the pulpit.

    • I originally thought here goes another pseudo chrisitan who Jesus Christ warned us about..beware of those who use my name in vain and false prophets and found his speech offensive until I continued listening and realised he was actually taking those ignorant pseudo christians to task for their hypocrisy. Thank you Reverned and God Bless. Keep shining a light on darkness.

  • Thank you! God is surely working through you and I pray your word will reach everyone. So many times I am told if I believe in rights for Gay people, I must not be Christian…. to which is absurd. God wants us to love our neighbors and show no hatred or animosity to others. I wish I lived in Springfield— May God continue to bless you & your family and congregation. Jenny

  • I came across your speech on Gawker, as I guess many others have. I admit, I was getting so upset watching it and then I was moved to tears. A lot of people have tried to equate the two eras together and I thought you did it brilliantly. We look back at history at those who blocked school doors when African Americans tried to enter and we think “how ignorant could a person be” and here we are again with the denial of rights to homosexual citizens. It’s definitely history repeating itself. It’s sad how we have not learned our lessons.

    I admit that I am an atheist, but I love the fact that there are people of God like you out there fight the good fight with me. You have my respect and admiration and I wish you the best.

  • Phil, I cannot express adequately the pride I have in having known you . Although I am not able to attend the services and truly miss the opening welcoming statement of the services know that the Brentwood community is never far from my thoughts.
    While we may walk different paths in daily life we share a strong commitment to the same goals of equality and social justice. I exercise my voice in the often chaotic but vast world of the internet and you engage and inform so many through your position as a minister and friend and author .
    I have shared the video of your council presentation with a wide array of people and have received positive and reinforcing feedback from those in some faraway places as well as closer locales .
    Thank you for your authoritative stance and courage in this ongoing struggle, it is a model for people everywhere!

  • Thanks for a sane stance. I don’t think we should condemn gays and
    lesbians (as Jesus said “Let he without sin cast the first stone”), however I do have a problem with gays desecrating the White House and with gays
    in that office illegally using their power to force the placement of gays who admired the now deceased gay who remarked “Man/boy love does no harm to the child” in the position of keeping our schools safe. That person has
    also allegedly released a required reading list that actually sounds like the pedophile’s grooming the child for sexual exploitation. This kind of ruling
    forces the pedophiles opinions upon our school children and should never be tolerated.

    I also do not like the attitude that many have that homosexual are pedophiles, since only a small percentage (3%?) of them are and the latest
    FBI profile I read on them states that most pedophiles are “white, middle aged, well to do, married with children”. I wonder why those straight homosexuals do not rise up en masse to protest the small number of homosexuals trying to paint all homosexuals with the same brush.

    Frankly, the how to’s of heterosexual or homosexual orientation do not
    have any place in our schools. The how we’re built and how those organs function – yes – the how to’s – NO.

  • i didn’t learn a single thing about the ‘new biblical endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle’. The author didn’t provide any specific reasons or bible verses. He did an outstanding job of being lovely dovey/touchy feely/ warm and compassionate, but I felt he did a rather poor job of explaining how he came to this perspective….(citing slavery? socioeconomic status?) He failed to be persuasive. If he’s going to buck traditional views, he owes it to his readers to build a better case for his position.

  • Thank you, your words make my heart sing… I used to be a bigot, and a dear gay friend made me see the beauty of LGBTs … He allowed me to see them as the human beings they are… Because of him, I am a better person. Thank you for being inclusive of all people…!!

  • As a life long Catholic, I have been subtly and overtly judged my entire life. I came from a loving home but everywhere around me I sensed I was bad and sinful or as the catholics put it disordered. I buried my being, I cried about my being, I punished myself for my being. I conformed, married and had a family. And in my mid 40’s now am finally dealing with my being. As my family deals with divorce and separation and I lament for missed experience I become angry and frustrated that things were the way they were when I was growing up. I am saddened by the pain and lose my family all feels, though we are actually doing well in adjusting. As I listen to todays right wing factions, I become enraged that in today’s day they still promote hate and shame and fear at the expense of innocents all in the name of Christendom. I left my church and still struggle to find a new spiritual home, one where there is not judgement for how I was created and who I am.

    Why do people not see the error in this view. Why do they not see the harm and pain and suffering they inflict? How can these people call themselves Christians when they fail to follow his most basic teachings of Love thy Neighbor and Judge Not.

    Someday our world thanks to people like you will be a better place. I hope for all that it comes sooner rather than later. I pray the current crop of GOP contenders with their warped sense of self righteousness lose in the new elections. We need men and women who embrace all regardless of their own ethos and religion. We need men and women who recognize equality is an ideal that should be put before all others.

    Again thank you for your work and your acceptance of all.

    It is truly uplifting.

    • Peter, I too was raised Catholic (albeit Vietnamese Catholic) and almost went down the same path you did. I denied my same-sex attraction for years and did everything possible to persuade myself that I am straight. I even forced myself to become jealous over a girl I had no feeling for. It is amazing how we can fool ourselves into doing something because of social pressure. Fortunately, I was discovered and “outed” by my sister one day which forced me to be honest with myself and my family.

      Things might be hard now but it will get easier when the dust settles.
      Johnny aka MooseintheOC

  • From a straight man, I just want to say, “thank you, thank you, thank you”!!! You are a true man of God and represent that good in humanity.

  • You’re an inspiration. My hope is that we someday can acknowledge that we are all equals, be it the color of your skin or sexual orientation. You made a huge contribution to light the hope. God bless you!
    Andy, Norway.

  • Dear Pastor, as an athiest in the UK I too often despair at the hatered and intollerance of many churches in the US. I thank you for reminding that a good man of faith can really make a difference. Truelly a brave stance, I and many in the UK wish you and your fellow tollerant flock well

  • Pastor Phil, what you did is like Jesus getting in the dirt with the adulterous woman in front of the stone throwers – The other day I had a turn of stomach when Rev Graham site removed the Morman web cult reference (in doing so it was choosing one standard of “error” over another because his denomination is so against same gender couples) . But we do this as humans & churches (stone throw harshly at some things, but cast a blind eye to others more acceptable). We welcome some sinners in the church but ostracize others (when really all sin). I regret my church seems least likely among churches to welcome a same-gender couple to a Bible study. And if they came they would get whispered about & viewed/judged different from everyone else. I know because I have been in church fellowship for 35 years. I also heard the statement by Gov Huckabee (former “Baptist” minister) during the RNC that the illicit dance clubs were lacking business while they were in Tampa but they could move up to the Democrats’ convention & get some business (inferring his group has morals but the Dems don’t). I am very much into humor, but not when it is demeaning or mocking of others — And if pastors & churches want to be Christlike, I would suggest they stop the joke from pulpits about homosexuality (e.g., “God didn’t create Adam & Steve” and the congregation snickers). The gospel of Jesus has gotten lost in all this, as it did in the chicken feud earlier this year that many supported.

  • Had I come across a minister like you earlier in my life I may still have been able to walk into a church without feeling like an alien. Thank you for spreading a message of love and acceptance, not just tolerance. It is the same message Jesus taught that far too many “Christians” seem to ignore.

  • My daughter sent me the YouTube post a few days back. I was so touched. She said it reminded her of the story I had told her about my minister in West Texas when I was a girl. Yes. His name was Richard Chilton. I grew up deep in the bible belt, in the Christian (Disciples of Christ) church. He had studied at Philips, not a very liberal seminary. One Sunday — would have been in mid-50’s — he preached a carefully reasoned sermon, using the scriptures, concluding that there was no way one could call oneself a Christian and believe in segregation. I have never forgotten that, and his courage. As you might figure, it was not well received. Fortunately I was raised in a family who had no truck for that stuff. That being said, years and lives later, I saw a picture of some young men who had declared their opposition to the war in Vietnam, perhaps from Yale? One of them had to have been his oldest son. He looked just like his dad. Took my breath away. Thank you for reminding us who are no longer observant — like Sara Vowell, I consider myself to be a culturally Christian atheist — that there are still some real Christians out there.

    Best, Kay Callison, Columbia MO

  • Thank you so very much… I came out in Springfield in 1992 and wish there had been a pastor like you at that time.

  • Would’ve loved it more if you finish the speech going “full Colbert”, i.e. after segregation going “Oops forgot to replace that instance of it with gay equality when I copied speeches from 50 & 60’s white pro segregation preachers” then finish reciting more of the old racist arguements :)

  • Thanks for stepping out and speaking up! You are to be commended for making people think about civil rights for the gay community in a novel way that got everyone’s attention. Fantastic.

  • I wanted to thank you!!! As someone who left the church that I loved and grew up in as I was ridiculed and pushed out for being gay. ( I also made the choice as I had to be me) reading your blog brought joy and tears to me. I saved on my phone so I can read at home. I just wanted to say thank you for your love and support to my community.

  • I saw an article about you in the news, and I had to go in here and look at your blog. You really prove that there is such a thing as a modern christian, and I hope you can inspire a lot of people to be more like you! I hope you inspire a lot of people, and keep up the good work! Love from Norway.

  • Thank you for taking a stand with me and for me.

    I was born in Springfield when my dad was attending BBC. At 14, I was shunned by the same faith community (Independent Fundamental Baptists) when I informed my parents that I was gay. The beatings began, I was kicked out of my home, and my father was even removed from his ministry after he confided in the board of Deacons about the struggles going on at home.

    I became the target abomination when Jerry Falwell decided to get political and formed the “moral majority”, picking up Anita Bryant’s anti-gay torch. Soon, there were other groups (Focus on the Family, then AFA, AFC, etc.) led by prominent Christian “authorities” whose sole purpose was to demean and belittle me, and anyone like me.

    Honestly, I thought only bigots and snake-oil peddlers came from Springfield. Traveling through Springfield recently, I cursed BBC and those who propagate such hate as I drove past the sign on the exit. Some scars are still very tender, even after so many years.

    Your video surprised me.

    Watching the video of you addressing the Springfield City Council brought tears to my eyes and rekindled some hope in my heart that there are still remnants of good Christians out there – even in Springfield, Missouri! I believe, somehow, the Church has simply lost its purpose and focus. Churches have become too large to know the needs of the individual in its community, placing more emphasis on entertaining the multitudes and increasing the seating capacities of their auditoriums. Today, most Evangelical Christians are merely following bad (egocentric) shepherds who put on an emotionally charged production (a.k.a., “show”).

    You show those seeking Truth something different. By a living example, lead the Church into the Light!

  • I saw your speach on the front page of a Norwegian newspaper, and was immediately reminded of Stephen Colbert. It’s clear that you have taken a page out of his book on how to shine a light on bigotry. Keep up the good work :-)

  • “Whosever will may come” God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowlege of the Truth” The Word of God is Truth. Those of us that believe it is God’s Word know that everyone is welcome. A law such as this is not needed and will make matters much worse. God bless.

  • What the Bible said about the gay and where they are destined that you should continue to preach. Don’t quote people speech like Desmond Tutu to try to prove your point…try to quote from the Bible what God said as we will be answerable to him after this life and not to Desmond Tutu. These lifestyles need to be rebuked as it try to desecrate the marriage purpose and the purpose of God create human in this earth . It is better Reverend to please God than try to please people….Woe to you who change evil to goodness………..2 Timothy 3:1-5

    New International Version (NIV)

    3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

  • Thank you for your bravery and clarity. I hope your ingenious approach forces many people to view gay marriage from another perspective.

  • I was getting upset while I was listening to your speech, got to the twist, and applauded in the silence of my living room because I was so enthused. That was a well thought out perspective that I have been considering quite a bit, but I was having trouble articulating it correctly. Your speech was wonderfully delivered and I hope that you, or someone like you, can become a catalyst for the better world you speak of.

  • Bravo! You give hope to this atheist that people of faith can take a more tolerant approach to others. Thank you for your bravery and eloquence. Thank you for your unconditional love of humanity!

  • I saw the video of your speech and I was stunned. I really didn’t want to keep watching it as I was getting angry but I kept watching as I wanted to see what the “surprise twist” could possibly be. I am so glad I did. That was brilliant! I am a spiritual person but do not attend church because of the attitudes presented in the first part of your speech, but if I lived in your area I would be honored to attend your church! Thank you so much for what you are doing. This is a brave stand you are taking and I hope it inspires more in the faith community to follow suit.

  • What a wonderful lesson you provided through a very short but informative speech. My husband and I are of Roman Catholic faith in Canada and I am a politician. I am vocal about my declaration that the God and Jesus that I have faith in, would not want me or my family to persecute anyone….no matter what the reason. The political structure that leads my faith is not something I follow blindly but rather with intelligence and reason. I pray that others will open their hearts and minds enough to understand that acceptance and not just tolerance, will make us a better society.

  • Dear Sir,

    Bravo. I am not a Christian, but have long admired how many of your faith have been willing to fight–at considerable cost–for social justice. From John Ball’s speech during the Peasant’s Revolt to Gerrard Winstanley’s activism on behalf of the impoverished to Christian activism in the abolition movement and in the civil rights and anti-war movements of the ’60s and ’70s (not to mention the teaching of Jesus!), Christianity has a long and proud tradition of fighting and sacrificing for what is right and just and it is heartening to see such bravery continue.

    I clicked on the link to your speech expecting to hear another person hijack your faith to demean and vilify gay people. Instead, what I heard moved me to tears.

    It dismays me to see religion placed in the service of hatred and aggression (both domestically and abroad). Most Jews and Christians I know support peace and toleration, but it seems that extremists get the most airtime and the most vocal “religious” leaders seem to be advocating for violence and bigotry. Thank you for demonstrating that a commitment to faith and a commitment to human dignity are the same thing.

    I wish you courage and strength for what will surely be turbulent times ahead. I trust you know that you have made a real difference. If nothing else, watching your speech made my week!

  • I would amend my previous comment, just to say that I mentioned the Jews and Christians of my acquaintance whose faith is so frequently misrepresented, I did not intend to suggest that adherents to other faiths are lacking in a commitment to openness and kindness. Quite the contrary, most people of all faiths that I know have a deep respect for peace and toleration. I simply mentioned these two, because these are the two faiths in American political discourse that are most frequently mobilized for shameful purposes (hatred toward gays, hatred of Islam, bombing Iran, etc.). I offer only a shamefaced “yikes” for anything that suggested otherwise. If anything, I simply meant to suggest that these are the most powerful religious voices in this nation and that it is most injurious when their constituencies are misrepresented by extremist elements.

  • Thank you, pastor. I loved your speech – a fantastic good start on this tuesday morning, in my office, in Norway. May your words go worldwide and make a change.

  • Fantastic speech, and it is great it has had such a massive impact. The footage and message is spreading through media in countries as far away as little Norway. A massive thank you!
    All the best!

  • Thank you, for being a person that tries to change the world for the better and promote respect, acceptance and tolerance! Thank you!

  • I lost my faith after coming out and believed that I will always be at odds with the Christian faith for the rest of my life. I was told being Catholic and gay are incompatible because my love for someone of the same sex is inherently evil, something I could not grasp to understand because I cannot see how love can ever be evil. As a result, I become militant in my opposition against those whom use the Bible to brand me as evil, unnatural and perverted, often to the point of being anti-religion and anti-establishment. I distanced myself from Christians for fear of being condemned, rejected, bullied, chastised and physically assaulted, all of which has happened at least once in my life. I changed from being a caring, loving and kind person to someone who was filled with anger, hatred, resentment and fear.

    However, 10+ years have passed and Christians like you have been able to help me find a bit of peace and start the reconciliation between the two important aspects of my life: my Catholic/Christian faith and my identity. I have meet Christians along the way that have accepted me with open arms “not in spite of their faith but because of it.” (Ironic that I used those exact words in a correspondence to a Christian friend over a month ago where I said I love and cherish her because she accepted me not in spite… ). It is comforting to know there is a Christian community out there that will accept me even if the Catholic Church wont.

    May God continue to bless you and guide you.

    Johnny from CA

  • Reverend Snider, I do not know how to adequately thank you for your support. I can tell you that I feel more hopeful about our future knowing you are speaking out. We live in a better world because of people like you. Thank you, so very much!

  • I saw the clip and I just need to tell you : YOU ROCK!! That was awsome :D And I’m an atheist by the way, not that it matters ;)

  • Thank you sir. This is a fight that is not being fought enough in the faith community. In fact, what is, at least as I have always believed, to be a message of hope and of love is oft perverted and used as a weapon of oppression and control. To hear your speech resonated with me. MY grandfather was a Methodist preacher in Mississippi and Alabama at the height of the civil rights movement. He was a part of the SCLC and along with my mother, marched and integrated lunch counters. As recognition he also got beaten, crosses burned in his yard and black listed from the church he spent his life serving. I still have a copy of his sermon from nearly 50 years ago where he mentioned that we are our brother’s keeper. To hear you, sir, was to reaffirm my belief that religion can be a force for good. Thank you for having the courage to use your position for the betterment of our society and in fighting oppression.

  • Thanks for your words of healing and encouragement to our disenfranchised brothers and sisters whom God created…it is a balm and a blessing…

  • Homosexuality, which is gender identificantion disorder, and is patently obvious when counseling with those who embrace or struggle with this life style choice. Every person I hae met with in this unhappy lot have suffered physical and sexual abuse as children, and often estrangment from the parent of their own gender in their formattive years. The welcome statement is Gospel based, and accurate. The Lord Jesus, and His people welcome everyone to draw near to the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace to help in time of need. I experience this moment by moment, and thank Jesus that He accepts me just as He finds me, and loves me to much to leave me in that condition. Shoud we discriminate against folks listed above, The answer is No. Should we present them with the Gospel of Jesus which frees from sin, death and ungodly lifestyles, Yes. While Dr. Snider’s comments are clever, they misrepresent a stark reality – there is no scientific evidence that race is not chosen; there is no scientific evidence that homosexulaity is not.

  • Phil,
    What an amazing speech. It’s exactly the Christian attitude I have toward gay rights. If Jesus were walking the earth today, I know he’d be supporting the bullied, suicidal gay teens with love and acceptance. Nowhere in his teachings did he advocate hate and intolerance. I am happy to know there are Christians out there who reach for love first. Thank you for the reminder!

  • Thank you so much indeed for lifting my spirits so magnificently today as I listened to you! More power to your preaching and your ministry!

  • Just Brilliant Phil…
    I am so impressed with your courage and intellect … Please fight on
    Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. —Martin Luther King, Jr

  • Wow… What a beautiful way to say what others only think… and it was masterfully done to catch those who may be wrong… I am a catholic who reads the bible, and have been preaching for years that mans interpritaition of it can be manipulated as you wish. I have been told I’m an Athiest because I question and think for my self… Stand strong and the Lord will be walking with you..

    Bless you in Christ.
    Greg E

  • It’s probably redundant at this point, but I wanted to thank you for your eloquent, intelligent words and support. I’m not really sure what else to say other than: Hear Hear! But even that seems inadequate.

    Thank you.

  • I suppose God was just having a bad day when he poured out his wrath on Sodom. This is where your problem begins, you suppose things of God and his word. Comparing someone’s race to someone’s sexual orientation is apples to oranges in so many ways. We are to love the sinner and hate the sin, we are not however commanded by God to encourage sin while loving the sinner. I would encourage you sir to read the holy word of God more closely before you endorse a behavior that God’s word calls sin.

    • If I can be honest the assumption that the sin of Sodom was that of homosexuality is based off nothing more than the fact a couple of words are shared in two different books of the old testament (one referring to the destruction of Sodom), and then a far more contemporary commentary that was possibly written as late as the 16th century if my recollection is correct.

    • Wes, would you please send me references in the 4 Gospels where Jesus called homosexuality a sin. And I do not men Leviticus or the writings of St,Paul. By the way, did you know that Leviticus says wearing your perma-pressed shirt (mixed fabrics) is an abomination? So is eating shellfish. Shall I go on or do you get the picture?

      • Garry, we must stop using the argument that “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality”. He never said anything about child abuse or pedophilia either. Yet, we can glean from his teachings and principles what he thought about such things. Since Christ affirmed all of the Old Testament (Matt. 5, etc.) we can deduce that he affirmed the moral imperatives of the Old Testament.

        As you may know, biblical theology is that Christ fulfilled the civil/ceremonial aspects of the Law while upholding the moral prescriptions of the Law. The NT writers do this as well.

        Christ only affirmed one model of marriage (“as it was in the beginning…one man…one woman…becoming one flesh”). Citing the civil/ceremonial laws of the now-defunct theocracy does not eliminate God calling certain behaviors an abomination.

  • To your welcome list above, I would hope you would add a group that is so often neglected and frequently maligned: “If you are transgender, you are welcome.”

  • The United Church of Canada has been ordaining its members who are qualified, the out LGBT ones too, since the late 80’s. We have done Bible study in our congregations to familiarize ourselves with some of the reasons Scripture doesn’t support “Gay=sin”, and many of us have gone through formal study and work processes to become “Affirming Congregations” who have supported LGBT rights and viewpoints in the Church. With the beginning in Canada of equal marriage in this Century, the Church wanted to continue to have each congregation make its own marriage policy, and I would say few would have a policy that excludes same-sex couples, but there are a few in each province (state). This summer we elected the first leader of a major Canadian denomination who is Gay, and the Right Rev. Gary Paterson is married to a Vancouver City Councillor , Rev. Tim Stevenson. The Anglican (Episcopalian) Church is also very diverse in Canada, but they would, overall, be a bit more theologically conservative than the UCC.

  • Of course, I was just writing from one more place to let you know how great your presentation to the City Council was. We hope that the ordinance will be acted upon soon, and that the attention that your speech has gotten will help end discrimination in Springfield. Our prayers are with you!

  • This out and proud bisexual and Woman of ( Pagan ) Faith takes every DANG ONE of her hats off to you Reverend !! Folks like you give me hope that all of us can walk alongside each other , working to make this the beautiful world the Mother meant it to be . I simply cannot overstate my admiration and respect for you…I am not only proud to call you a fellow-American , hell , I’m proud to be a fellow carbon-based life-form ! And when I next drive cross-country ( planning an Eating My Way Through the South Tour ) I intend to come to your services. Folks like you call what you do the Lord’s work , I call it the Goddess’ Work ; either way it is work in support of everything that is good and decent and I hope you keep it up. From the bottom of my heart , Rev. , thank you .

  • Pingback: Video of preacher’s unique gay rights speech goes viral — MSNBC
  • I am so impressed. What a creative, clever, passionate way to make your point. My bottom line has always been that all religions are based on love. Period. Thank you for your effort to make the world a better place… for everyone.

  • Well done, sir. Just the week prior to your speech, I wrote a short blog post about a trip my family made to a slave plantation in Charleston, South Carolina. The question I posed to my children on that trip, and the subject of the blog post, was: in 100 years from now, what will people say was the great evil of our time? This week I reblogged your speech because it answered my question so very powerfully. Again, well done.

  • Hi Phil,

    Here’s another shout out from Norway. The short film of the speech is being shown on norwegian newspapers online media sections.
    Have to say your speech was a breath of fresh air and hopefully one day americans will stop being so strangely afraid of gay rights.

  • Reblogged this on Turn the Page and commented:
    Remember the Reverend who opened up individual speeches in Springfield City Council regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ in a proposed equality bylaw? Remember how you might have been steaming with anger at first? Until that surprise ending. The one where he completely turned the tables admitting he used a speech from over 50 years ago regarding anti-racial integration? And just changed race for homosexual/gay/lesbian? And how he became awesome?
    Yeah, that’s this guy.

  • I left the Lutheran church many years ago, because of the preached hate and greed towards others. You are amazing and your congregation in Springfield, MO, along with the citizens of the town, should be so proud. I wish that you were in every church, mostly the ones with the Starbucks!
    Thank you!

  • Powerful speech – and thank you for your wisdom. May God enlarge your church beyond imagination and bless you and your family with abundance and grace.

  • Thank you so very much. I found your the video of your speech via a friend’s Facebook link, but I’d also run across references to at two forums in which I am active. I really didn’t want to listen to a pastor speak out against homosexuality today, but with so many links, I figured it was worth a look. And then, this. Thank you.

  • You need to quit reading the works of Soulforce, Cornel West, Brian Mclaren, Stephen Colbert, etc and read the Bible. Start preaching God’s Word rather than man’s. You are sending souls, longing to hear the gospel of Christ, straight into the arms of Satan. You might as well be changing the person you sing about into Lucifer himself. I weep for the souls you are damaging by being inclusive of the world, and being inclusive of sin. It is true the Bible does say we are all sinners, but we are to flee sinful lusts and to hold fast to the commandants of Christ. Any silver tongued person can build a congregation of goats, and while I do not know your soul’s condition, you are certainly being used as a tool of the devil.

    • And I don’t know the condition of your sou, sir. Christ came to earth to free man from sin and taught us to judge not. So by your counting only christians who fear the god of wrath and anger from the bible are saved? What of the God that Christ teaches us about who wants us to love and help our fellow man? You infer that gay (or homosexuality at all) is the same as a wild free for all of carnal excess. Gay is no different than heterosexual love, committed relationships, except for being condemned and hated by those who do not understand it. Stopping the hatred,oppression and bigotry is to indeed help our fellow man and be the followers Christ wants us to be. And speaking personally, as for an eternity with the god you speak for? I want nothing of it. I will follow my faith.

      • Your faith leads to eternal damnation, because your faith is in YOU. My faith is in a loving Christ, while he loves everyone He has STANDARDS. You cannot live by the standard of this world and then look for a loving God, to say “You didn’t live by my principles, but come on in anyway”. You didn’t accept my free gift of salvation. This pseudo-pastor, the author of this blog is leading people down the broad way, the way of destruction. He is using the philosophy of Satan, to give you what you want to hear, rather than the TRUTH. It is simply not about hate, not about oppression, and not about bigotry, it is about TRUTH. The only way to help my fellow man is to point them to Christ and to His finished work on the cross. By saying that everyone is ok, “your ok, I’m ok”, we are making His dying in vain. I hate no one with the gay lifestyle, and DO believe that a gay person can know Christ as Saviour and still be trapped in yes, SIN. But by putting the church’s approval on SIN, we make them feel good about themselves and give them a Social Gospel, rather than the blood cleansing power of the true Gospel. Phil Snider, has a belief system based on the works of authors that do not believe in the Salvation of Christ, his beliefs are not manifested from a true belief that Scripture is the ultimate authority. This is not where he and I differ, but rather where he and Christ differ.

      • I’d give you a thumbs up if I could. You’ll just have to ignore some people because they are so fanatical and sans logic, they will not listen to reason. Which reminds me of a great quotation, “[H]e, who will not reason, is a bigot; he, who cannot, is a fool; and he, who dares not, is a slave.”- Sir William Drummond of Logiealmond. I’ve always interpreted the bigot, fool and slave in this quotation as being mutually exclusive until…

      • Why don’t you see the LIGHT,? You do a great job of researching light, yet have you found the light of the Father. “Truth crushed to earth, will always rise again”. It’s about the TRUTH, and that sir has no agenda but that of the TRUTH. Also ask yourself, who is calling who, a fool. Man’s wisdom doesn’t stand a chance against Truth or Light.

  • I have to admit when I first heard about your speech I actually laughed, if I hadn’t I probably would have cried because you did something that took real courage and conviction in your beliefs to stand up there and make your speech. I hope more people follow your example, we need more people like you to balance out Westboro and other hate groups. Thank you for being a decent courageous human being and lighting the way.

  • Amazing speech. I have posted your speech on Facebook because I want others to experience this powerful statement.
    Los Angeles

  • Hi everybody — I’m just now getting the chance to read all of your replies. They mean the world to me. I am truly amazed and heartened by your words, and I can’t say thank you enough for the outpouring of support for this video. My very best to each of you.

  • I’m very glad your speech went viral. I teach logic, among other things, and this electoral cycle I’ve had a dismaying number of bad arguments to show my students–false dichotomies. red herrings, instances of begging the question. At last, a carefully crafted (and for many people troubling) and logically strong analogy. And the tone of your rhetoric remained civil and calm. Thanks for restoring a bit of hope!

  • Thank you so much for this.

    I am an atheist and often have a sense of despair regarding religion and religious people. Your message is an amazing affirmation of the ability of good people to find room in their faith to embrace others, rather than using it to exclude them.

  • You are an incredible person. You have given so much hope for members of the LGBT community. So many Christians have come out spewing fire and brimstone speeches about marriage equality, but you’ve stated what so many others have been trying to get the world to understand: we’ve gone through this 50 years ago. History is repeating itself, but we have a chance to change that. Thank you for being one of the people fighting to make that change.

  • Please also consider checking out faith communities that are Unitarian Universalist. I was a bit sad not to see us listed among those you consider to be kindred congregations. Your speech is creating conversation in my race and ethnic relations class; it is more intuitive for these students to embrace the rights of same sex couples than acknowledge the lingering presence of racism in this country. I appreciate how you work through this on your blog post.

    • To promote an ethic of love, mutuality, and respect would be precisely the opposite of tolerating pedophilia. My approach to ethics can best be summarized by a quote from St. Augustine: “If love is the only measure then the only measure of love is love without measure.” Please check out my sermon series where I address these questions.

  • I heartily commend your speech. I also am continually amazed by how many people rise above the limitations of their religion. I think it speaks volumes, not about the religion, but about how fundamentally decent and kind some of us are, despite the potentially mind-poisoning effects of so-called “holy scripture.”

  • One more point I would like to add is that I am ever so grateful for the times the people in my life or when the Lord showed me my blind spots, “hidden sins” or strongholds that kept me from a closer walk and relationship with the Him. I wondered why I could not hear His still small voice very well, and it was because of unrepented sin. Once I took care of these things I was able to hear his voice, as He says to His children, “My sheep hear My voice”. Of course I am still working out my salvation with fear and trembling with a “fear of God, or reverence of God’s Holiness. The truth of the matter is this: God is Holy. He does not want even one to be lost. He cannot allow satan or his demons back into heaven. When we choose sin, we are under the influence of the evil one who wants to rob us of our salvation. I would ask each homosexual person to ask the Lord, “Is what I am doing sin in Your eyes?” You are responsible to listen and yield to what His loving guidance tells you. If a person worships his sin as higher than the Lord, then the Lord cannot make His abode in you. Accepting and respecting Jesus’ pure sinless blood covering over you is the key to the Lord making His abode in you. If you need deliverance from your sin, and desire it with all of your heart, He will deliver you from your stronghold, and you WILL be able to hear His still small voice.

  • The first time I hear a christian, especially a direct representant of God, not telling bullshit about homosexuality. I thank you for that. In France, where I am from, the situation is horrible since our president wants to give us the same rights as the other couples. Big manifestations happened on the 23 October, showing how much French people are still homophobic.
    I posted your video on my blog (like a lot of other people did), because I liked it and I hope it will change something.
    Again: merci.

  • You are an amazing and inspiring person, and I am so grateful that your eloquent voice is reaching far and wide. Keep up the great work.

  • An emotive – if flawed and misleading – speech. You imply that an argument that is wrong in one context is also wrong in all others, which does not logically follow. You also present only the most ignorant and unsupported of the views against gay marriage in an attempt to place them on the same level as simple racism.
    Appeals to emotion may touch hearts, but my mind remains unimpressed.

    • Pastor Snider is right logically and spiritually. It is your interpretation is flawed and misleading. Nowhere does the pastor make the logical fallacy of hasty generalization. He did not say that it is “wrong in all others.” What his speech did point is the inhumane ways men have used the Bible in the past to discriminate against a minority group. What he did point out that the bible has been misinterpreted in the past regarding issues such as slavery, not to mention the subjugation of women, and that leaves to possibility that the interpretation on homosexuality can be wrong.

      That is applicable to literalist interpretation of the Bible, which most, if not all, anti-LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexual and Transgender) Christians prescribe to. Literalism and subsequent belief of the infallibility of man’s interpretation of God’s message does leave it open to scrutiny, especially when past interpretations and application of it have been shown to be counter to the message of Christianity. To extend the argument further, there is hypocrisy that exist when anti-lgbt Christians wage their crusade and use their faith to justify discrimination in areas of equal protection, civil rights, housing, employment, adoption, military service, etc. Adultery and divorcees in their second and third marriages (Newt Gingrich) are living in sin but there hasn’t been that same kind of vitriol and damnation that LGBT people receive. Contrary, New Gingrich was embraced by the Christian community as their champion of conservatism. They also chose to use a few lines in the Bible to condemn LGBT people but not follow the hundred of other Biblical rules in their personal lives.

      I am not going to get into the discussion whether or not homosexuality is a sin because I am not a theologian. My belief is that love cannot be a sin, regardless of sexual orientation. One thing is certain however is the meta-message of Christianity is to love god and love thy neighbors. In addition to that is to not past judgement and “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” We all have specks of dust in our eyes so let’s not point at others and use that to justify bigotry. It is sad to see so many Christians not act Christ-like towards their fellow man. “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ,” Mahatma Gandhi.

  • So the only real source you provided was a Bob Jones sermon that is allegedly scrubbed from the Internet, yet some liberal managed to find it and post it on a website. You say you did a Google search, but didn’t provide a single source that any college professor could give you credit for in a serious paper. I’ll tell my seventh grader to just put “Google searched and found one possibly redacted piece that may or may not be legit” at the bottom of her next research paper. I’m sure the teacher will accept it.

    And if I read the Bob Jones sermon correctly, he repeatedly states that faith in Christ overcomes all and there should be no trouble between Christians. I don’t deny Southern Christians distorted the Bible to suit their segregationist objectives. The trouble I have is comparing those people to Christians today, many of whom are responsible for the advancement of civil rights for blacks in the 60’s. Some of those very same people are appalled that all of their work for equality is now being perverted to advance sinful behavior.

    Bob Jones’ use of the word “boundaries” to defend segregation is a stretch – not nearly as clear as he would like his audience to believe. Now homosexuality in the Bible – there’s no stretching the Scripture to find it sinful. You know that, sir. Both in the Old and New Testaments, it is as clearly defined as sin as anything.

  • Sir, I love what you are doing. Would you accept a copy of my book Back To The Source: The Spiritual Principles Of Jesus as a sign of my support for your efforts? The largest chapter is on the issue of gay-rights.

  • I think I see what’s going on with this whole issue. I’m not religious, but I cannot help but overlook a massive self-fulfilling prophecy in the works. The Book of Revelation talks about Satan coming to the earth in the guise of morality, preaching “for good” but when in truth he’s actually trying to engage in segregated, discriminatory, destructive plans.

    So, aren’t all of these “Christian” people, both politicians and clergy-folk, who are so vehemently anti-gay and trying to pass laws of exclusion and demonization, aren’t THEY actually Satan? They think they’re doing good, but they’re actually evil.

    Because doesn’t the Bible say that humans/humanity will be fooled by the Devil? And these people REALLY DO think they’re acting for good, when any sane, rational, empathetic human being can clearly see the pathology and sickness within them.

    I mean, especially with the whole 2012 thing…. its like Satan’s last push, putting up all these people posing as moral Christians who are actually conducting the business of Satan by trying to legislate against gays.

  • i heard your speech through its being shared on facebook. wonderful! brilliant! thankyou so very much for finding such an effective way of conveying your actual position and beliefs-the parallelism is scarey – which is why it is so effective. I will draw the attention of my PCC to it here in Exeter, UK. We are signed up to the inclusive church and looking for way to be more supportive of LGBT. bless you(though clearlyyou already have been)

  • You are makig it very hard for me to continue to be an atheist. It’s people like you who give religion a good name, unfortunately…

    Thank you so much for “coming out” like you did.

  • Good thoughts. I’d just like to throw out that not all of us in the Church of Christ are anti-gay. Some of us get pretty frustrated with the really caustic views of some of the more “classic” c of Cers. ;)

  • Reverend Snider,
    I am not a Christian, but I have a brain and reason and love in my heart for all God’s children – even the ones who think gay people are damned. Thank you for putting the so-called Biblical argument in its proper perspective. In St Louis, your speech would not be exceptional. In Springfield, I believe it shows great bravery on your part. Please continue to speak for those who are maligned by people who call themselves Christians but who spew hatred – or who think they alone know God’s words.
    jd in st louis

  • I left the Church long ago because of it’s view on gays and women, but you are an inspiration. Leaders like you would actually make me reconsider. Thank you for your brilliant speech and for having the courage to follow through. I live in California, where it’s easy to be in favor of equality and human rights. I realize you face other challenges because of your location, and commend you on your courage!

  • I once had a very christian roommate who would daily inform me that my views on gays and lesbians were wrong, and that I would never be allowed into Heaven for supporting them. She would have people come over from her church to try and “teach” me the “way of God”, as if I wasn’t already a Christian. I had begun to lose faith that Christians would ever be able to see that gays and lesbians are just the same as us, but your speech has brought my faith back to me. I appreciate you speaking out for the community, and hopefully someday we can all live together with out titles and discrimination.

  • Thank you Reverend Snider, I know this is old but it is the first I have seen of your speech. I have long been a straight Christian who takes the Bible seriously and my relationship with Jesus even more seriously, but was horrified by how homosexuals are treated by the Church. KNowing Jesus did not tell us to rally around this issue, I have not abandoned the Church but I sure have felt all alone and under attack. It is nice to know I am not alone and thoughtful, eloquent, kind leaders like you are fighting the good fight. God Bless!

  • The whole thing is bullshit. Glad that you can justify it with your faith. Your faith is the problem. Keep believing fairy tales and then changing the interpretation to suit your needs. Gays don’t need you to legitimize them, they just need the people that believe you fucking idiots to leave them alone and keep your medieval thoughts to yourselves. If you want to waste your lives following and believing in something that is below our current intelligence levels than go ahead. Just leave the rest of the public alone and don’t bring it into our political society.

  • Reverend Snider is not brave. He’s only smart in realizing the changing tides and that his religion is dying. It’s a move made out of necessity. He suddenly interprets the Bible differently? What a joke! He’s only ahead of the curve as far as a lot of churches are concerned, but he’s still doomed. Church is a business and that business is in a lot of trouble. That 2000 year old fairy tale is exposed more and more for what it is every day, a joke. Let me know when Jesus comes back.

  • Thank you, Reverent Doctor Snider. I’m the straight mother of a Bi daughter. The “Christian” pandering to homophobia is heartbreaking. I’m so thankful that there are people like you in the world, carrying the message that I sincerely believe Jesus would preach in this day and age. Thank you again!

  • I applaud you – this is the way to win “sheep” . I am an Atheist who is getting more and more fed up with Christians who are preaching hatred. However you show that there is love and understanding.
    I would like to share with you a post on a friend’s Facebook page – Tolerance does not mean not being offended – Tolerance means showing respect even though you ARE offended.

  • Without realizing this was out there, I have been doing the historical argument as well. I felt so happy that I knew history to compare the racial struggle with my community struggle. Absolutely, there are differences but discrimination at its basic level is just what you have stated. Thank you for standing up to your community as I have to friends and coworkers in recent days. There is a lot more live and hope out there that I realize.

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