When the City of Springfield, Missouri held a public hearing on Council Bill 2012-226, in August 2012, a lot of people stepped up to the microphone to express an opinion. The issue they were addressing was a proposal to add “sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of categories of persons protected from discrimination...”
The hot-button issue attracted more of a crowd than the chambers would hold. Of the hundreds who showed up, 46 had signed up to speak for the bill, 31 against. A report in the News-Leader indicated the speakers were “generally respectful”, though their opinions were divergent.
They were also predictable, with at least one exception that has gone viral. The speaker was a Christian pastor. Rev. Phil Snider began his remarks with the familiar homophobic rhetoric that characterizes the opposition of fundamentalist Christians. Among the anti-LGBT remarks he made were these:
This step of gay rights is but another stepping stone towards the immorality and lawlessness that will be characteristic of the last days. This ordinance represents a denial of all that we believe in, and no one should force it on us. It’s not that we don’t care about homosexuals. It’s that our rights will be taken away.
He went on for a couple of minutes and then said, “You see, the right of segregration...” Then he stopped, seemingly confused. He started again, reading, “You see, the right of segregation is clearly established by the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.”
Another brief pause and then the zinger:
I’m sorry. I have brought the wrong notes with me this evening. I have borrowed my argument from the wrong century. It turns out what I have been reading to you this whole time are direct quotes from white preachers from the 1950s and the 1960s, all in support of racial segregation. All I have done is simply taken out the phrase, “racial integration”, and substituted it with the phrase, “gay rights”.
I guess the arguments I’ve been hearing around Springfield lately sounded so similar to these that I got them confused. I hope you will not make the same mistake. I hope you will stand on the right side of history.
The remarks of the progressive preacher exploded across the Internet. The good pastor was a bit overwhelmed by the response and wrote about it on his blog. You might want to drop by and read his very thoughtful post.
Rev. Snider's openness and welcoming attitude already ripple outward in Springfield. Now they are rippling around the world. He gives me hope.