Mo. Pastor Ends 'Anti-Gay' Speech by Backing Equal Rights for Homosexuals

A Missouri pastor, who began his speech at a city council public hearing by opposing gay rights but supported equal rights for homosexuals in the end, says he is grateful for the feedback from the video of his speech, which has been viewed over 2.3 million times on YouTube.

The video carries an August speech by the Rev. Phil Snider, pastor of the Brentwood Christian Church, at a Springfield City Council hearing on a bill that would change the city's nondiscrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections.

Over the weekend, Snider wrote on his blog that he was "really heartened by all of the emails, Facebook messages, and kind words that I've received." A lot of people ask how a pastor who values the Bible can take this kind of stance, he adds. "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."

The video shows the stance Snider took.

"Any accurate reading of the Bible should make it clear that gay rights goes against the plain truth of the word of God," Snider said in the beginning of his speech 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," he added.

Snider continued, "The liberals leading this movement do not believe the Bible any longer. When you run into conflict with God's established order you run into trouble... Our city is in the gravest danger... in its history."

Then comes a shocking twist. "You see the right of segregation," he said, then paused and began to shuffle his notes. "The right of segregation, is clearly established by the holy scriptures both by precept and example," he continued.

Even as the audience looked stunned, Snider said, "I'm sorry I've brought the wrong notes with me this evening." He finally explained what he was trying to communicate. "I've borrowed my argument from the wrong century," he said. "It turns out what I've been reading to you this whole time are direct quotes from white preachers from the 1950s and the 1960s all in the support of racial segregation."

He said he replaced the phrase "racial integration" with "gay rights." "I guess the arguments I've been hearing around Springfield lately sounded so similar to these that I got them confused," he added, before finally urging the city council to avoid making "the same mistakes" and instead "stand on the right side of history."

On his blog, Snider says many have told him they wish they lived in Springfield "because yours is a church I could actually attend!" He goes on to say that "this kind of statement makes my day. … I also want you to know that there are several churches around the U.S. with a similar ethos. We may not be big churches or fancy churches, but we are there."