In this exclusive What’s Trending interview, Shira Lazar talks to Springfield, Missouri preacher Phil Snider about the story behind his City Council gay rights speech that went viral for its shocking twist ending.
In August 2012, the Springfield, Missouri City Council opened the floor to the public during the debate of a new bill that would protect LGBT people from discrimination — and while Reverend Snider began to argue against the bill, he suddenly stopped and apologized for using notes “from the wrong century” that included “direct quotes from white preachers from the 1950s and the 1960s, all in support of racial segregation.”
All Snider had to do was substitute the phrase “racial integration” with “gay rights” to prove his profound point.
The Springfield City Council was set to overwhelmingly pass the ordinance, but due to backlash from the religious community, they tabled the motion.
“I don’t have a secular humanist or an atheist calling me up or sending me an email, telling me how problematic it is,” Snider says in the above interview. “I was hoping that if we could dispel some of those religious arguments by saying, ‘look, religious folk, you said this about segregation; you said this about slavery […] Let’s recognize the way that the Bible often gets used and abused by people in order to just conform to their own cultural prejudices.'”
Speaking of his own reading of the Bible, the Reverend says, “It’s because of my faith that I am inclusive of others. Whenever I think of the figure of Jesus, I see him as someone who was always advocating on the side of those who had been marginalized by society, advocating, standing in solidarity with those who have been hurt by the governing powers that be.”
Snider then pulls a quote from St. Augustine to help reinforce his argument: “If love is the only measure, then the only measure of love is love without measure.”
“People can use the Bible however they want,” Reverend Snider concludes. “But if it does not pass the test of love, well, then we have not yet understood the divine scriptures, as St. Augustine put it.”