Interview: Pastor Phil Busbee of First Baptist Church of SF

( [email protected] ) Apr 28, 2004 05:54 PM EDT

More than 7,000 people joined a demonstration on Sunday, April 25, in San Francisco to defend traditional marriage. According to First Baptist Church of San Francisco Senior Pastor Phil Busbee, total 180 churches (30 churches registered on the day of march) from broad representation in terms of denominations and ethnicities, participated in Sunday march. Churches including Baptists, Presbyterians, Church of God in Christ, United Methodist Churches, which are not usually considered as being evangelical, representing all ethnicities, including African-Americans, Asians, Caucasians, and Latinos, united as one body and successfully delivered the message of God.

Christian Post conducted an interview with Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of San Francisco, Phil Busbee, who was the leading organizer of Sunday march. During the interview, he shared his views on homosexual marriage and his hope for the future of Christian community.

What motivated you to start this march? For the past two months, there were many Christians across the nation protesting against gay marriage. Is there specific reason to why it was scheduled Sunday April 25?

Initial motivation came from licensing of the same-sex marriage in SF, which happened two months ago. Pastors began to meet after the licenses were issued so it all began about two months ago.

We really wanted to gather a significant number of people from the evangelical community, not just 20 or 30 people but thousands of people to clearly demonstrate our views. This is a large movement. It took time to develop strategies that we wanted use. We met on weekly basis and tried to develop strategies. We talked a lot on the issue to come up with a consensus, which took us some time. About gathering, originally our goal was to gather 3,000 people but it grew to 7,000.

We wanted to have a meeting with the mayor (Newsom) first. We did meet with the mayor a week after Easter. It took a while t o meet the mayor. Five of us (pastors) spoke to the mayor. We wanted to do the rally after the meeting with him, to let him know that this is the public response.

We tried to approach this issue cautiously but bold and clear. This magnitude in SF will be significant. We wanted to do it via churches, not through the public. We didn’t want to do a large protest. We did it under the network of churches not through a public announcement, which allowed us not to get into conflict with the gay community.

San Francisco is one of the most liberal cities in the nation that is supportive of gay culture. Did you face any difficulties organizing this march?

We didn’t really meet in opposition in organization of the march. The overall reaction we received was positive. About 100 cars were honking (in supportive of what we were doing). That day about 7,000 spread out in the city. The emails we received were very positive. Press coverage was unusually fair. We received emails from the individuals in response to some interviews I had with the public media. I received some nasty emails but not so significant. I knew some people would be angry and hurt.

Gay marriage and abortion are both part of top social issues in the U.S. Are there any upcoming events that First Baptist is organizing for gay marriage or abortion?

We are having a meeting next Wednesday to do a follow-up regarding gay marriage. It is a meeting of those who were involved in the rally to talk about what must be done next, spiritually and politically.

Regarding abortion, we are involved with pregnancy counseling in the city giving financial support regularly.

Looking at Christians in the bay area organizing the march, there is hope in the city that Christians are taking actions. What are your prospects for the future?

After the rally, we are encouraging federal amendment and opposition to assembly bill which is promoting gay marriage. I would prefer we can handle this issue at the local level. I have no problem with federal government helping us to preserve traditional marriage. But I would prefer to be done at the local level. If the state doesn’t do it, then I support federal amendment.

What would you like to say to many Christians in the nation as it is going through a major spiritual battle?

I think the first thing Christians must know is that we are not at war against flesh and blood. Our goal is not to attack our enemies but really to let God heal blindness. We need a mass movement of prayer behind the cultural erosion of truth.

Secondly, I hope Christians will unify in sending message that there are many people who are committed to biblical truth. We are not going to tolerate politicians go against biblical truth. Churches should unite as one body, overcome the vision and speak with one voice.

I’m hoping that God gives us a place to eat to have a dialogue in the nation. I want to dialogue more than dictate. Dialogue with people to talk about truth. I want to have conversation not confrontation. In SF, we are in the minority position we are not the dominant group but we want to come humbly and address the issue by having a dialogue that could be held in the public arena. Christians have been fearful to interdialogue, to begin a dialogue regarding the issue of homosexuality. We hope this will awaken Christians to set up the table and speak our hearts about truth in the world.