The Rev. Phil Snider of Brentwood Christian Church in Springfield, Missouri, is making headlines after a video seemingly showcasing his views on gay rights at a local city council meeting went viral.
During his address on August 13, 2012, Snider warned of the “immorality” inherent in passing Ordinance No. 2012-226, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Springfield’s list of non-discrimination rules (read the full ordinance here). But in a surprise turn of events, the speech’s true intention was exposed as Snider concluded his speech: To showcase the supposed bigotry espoused by those who oppose equality.
As the video unfolds, Snider frames gay rights as being opposed to Biblical values. He delivers his message with great passion and fanfare. Interestingly, his argument hinges upon the notion that, by passing protections for homosexuals, his rights — and the rights of other religious people — will be infringed upon.
“Any accurate reading of the Bible should make it clear that gay rights goes against the plain truth of the word of God,” he proclaimed at the hearing. “It’s not that we don’t care about homosexuals, but it’s that our rights will be taken away, and un-Christian views will be forced on us and our children, and we’ll be forced to go against our personal morals.”
But then, the surprise moment happens. The Daily Mail has more:
Then in a shocking twist, he utters the word ‘segregation.’
‘You see the right of segregation,’ he says, pausing to shuffle his notes. ‘The right of segregation,’ he slowly continues, ‘is clearly established by the holy scriptures both by precept and example.’
Faces in the crowd sitting behind Snider look visibly upset and shocked by his mention of segregation.
Seeming confused, Snider apologizes, saying, ‘I’m sorry I’ve brought the wrong notes with me this evening.’
That’s when Snider lets everyone in on his act.
Snider tells the audience that he borrowed his “argument from the wrong century.” Rather than stating his own views on gay rights, the preacher had taken comments from white pastors who supported racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s. He simply swapped out the words “racial integration” for “gay rights,” thus making the same arguments in an effort to showcase what he sees as bigotry.
The audience, though, should have caught the clue at the beginning of his address that he might be up to something. When Snider commenced his speech, he said, “I stand before you tonight in support of this ordinance.” Of course, those watching quickly forgot these words once he launched into his faux commentary against gay rights.
“I guess the arguments I’ve been hearing around Springfield lately sounded so similar to these that I got them confused,” he said of his pro-segregation quotes, going on to urge the city council to pass the amendments to Springfield’s ordinance.
Watch his speech, below:
On Saturday, the pastor responded to the video going viral and to the intense interest that has followed his speech. He wrote:
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. [...]
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.
Read his entire response here.