Residents of Springfield, Missouri, came down on the side of religious freedom in a crucial vote last Tuesday on a municipal ordinance with huge anti-Christian implications. Voters acted to repeal an ordinance
adopted by the Springfield City Council last October which provided special rights to homosexual and "transgendered" individuals.
The repeal proposition, Question 1, was approved by Springfield voters by a narrow margin of 51.4% to 48.6%. While turnout was stronger than usual for an April municipal election, there were still only 24 percent of Springfield voters who cast ballots on the controversial ordinance.
The ordinance had amended Springfield's "public accommodations" law to prohibit discrimination based on the amorphous concepts of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." Similar ordinances on the state and local level have been used across the country to target
and prosecute Christian business owners and Christian ministries.
Under such SOGI (sexual orientation/gender identity) laws, florists, bakers, and photographers have been found guilty of discrimination for declining to participate in immoral same-sex union ceremonies. Christian pastors and Christian churches have also been threatened with prosecution for failing to perform same-sex nuptials and failing to provide church facilities for such ceremonies.
"Christian businessmen all over the country are being sued for not participating in gay 'weddings'," said Calvin Morrow, the leading spokesman for the Yes on Question 1 campaign. "To serve those types of celebrations violates their consciences...Do we suspend free speech for Christians and use police powers to force compliance?"
The Springfield ordinance also would have turned all public restrooms in the city and all private restrooms available to the public into unisex facilities. Men would have been able to invade women's restrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities by merely claiming that their "gender identity" was that of a female.
National "gay rights" forces made retention of the ordinance a top priority. PROMO, the Missouri homosexual rights organization, and the Human Rights Campaign, the national homosexual rights group, dedicated major resources and full-time staffers dedicated to the "no repeal" effort. They were aided by the Springfield News-Leader
, which used its news pages to repeatedly distort the true impact of the ordinance, and to propagandize in favor of the "gay rights" cause.
Springfield area churches mobilized slowly behind the repeal campaign, but finished strong. "The churches
were startled and alarmed and began to get involved. They recognized they were the target," Morrow observed.
Pastors who had a large impact included John Lindell of James River Assembly of God, and Pastor Eddie Bumpers of Crossway Baptist Church. Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, sent a letter to his association's churches, urging them to actively support the repeal effort. The international headquarters of the Assemblies of God and its many affiliate ministries are located within the city of Springfield.
The repeal effort may have been helped by a national media firestorm over religious liberty legislation in Indiana during the waning days of the Springfield campaign. In the midst of the highly contentious debate
in Indiana, homosexual rights activists waged a vicious hate campaign against a small town pizza parlor which said it would decline participation in any same-sex "wedding" ceremony. Supporters of the pizza shop owner and his 19 year-old daughter rallied to their defense, and raised an astounding sum of over $842,000 in less than 48 hours to show support for their courageous stand.