CNN Anchor Gushes Over Pastor Welcoming of Gays, Promotes His Church Event

On her Monday news hour, CNN's Kyra Phillips welcomed a Christian pastor who accepts gays and lesbians in his congregation and disputes historic, biblical teaching on the immorality of homosexuality. Phillips praised the minister for his stance and actively promoted an event at his church dealing with Christianity and homosexuality.

Phillips commended Highlands Church pastor Rev. Mark Tidd, for the work he has been doing "in a time where so many of our young kids are taking their own lives because no one's accepting them for being gay." She noted twice that his Denver, Colorado church has been growing ever since his decision to embrace gays and lesbians.

CNN also featured clips of congregants praising the church's affirming stance on gay and lesbian relationships.

Phillips even went so far as to describe historic Christian teaching against homosexuality as "archaic thinking." She asked Rev. Tidd if there was more to the debate than to "take things from the Bible from so many years past and apply it to a world right now that is so different and has changed, and is grown, and is progressive?"
 

Rev. Tidd, who has been a pastor for 26 years, has only recently come to see homosexual practice and Christian faith as compatible, and for that he lost his ordination in the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA). In the interview Tidd described his turning point as when he helped a family with a transgendered child and realized that there was nothing wrong with homosexuality – it was his own view of Scripture that was warped, Tidd believes.

"Why do you think this is so worth it?" Phillips asked Tidd of his loss of ordination, in the sympathetic interview. On interpretation of Scripture, Tidd noted that "we need to be flexible and realize that our understanding is often wrong, and when our wrong thinking has serious consequences for the lives of people, then it's not incumbent on people to...change something they can't change –  it's incumbent on us to change our way of understanding them."

Phillips commended the work Tidd has done for gays and lesbians. "Well Rev. Mark Tidd, it's pretty amazing what you have done and continue to do," she gushed. Phillips also advertised for an upcoming church symposium on homosexuality.

"And this Saturday, Highlands Church is having their second annual symposium titled 'The Evangelical Church and Homosexuality'," the CNN anchor added at the end.

A transcript of the interview, which aired on November 9 at 10:35 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

KYRA PHILLIPS: After years of preaching, a Colorado pastor took a huge spiritual risk, breaking from the Christian Reform Church and opening up his congregation to gays and lesbians. Like any Evangelical Christian Church service, there's some prayer, and obviously a sermon. But the thing that sets this church apart from all the rest, is that at Highland's Church, gays and lesbians are all treated as equals.

(Video Clip)

Rev. MARK TIDD, Senior Pastor, Highlands Church: My view has changed on this over the last 26 years. It's not the fabric from which I was cut, or the way that I was trained, hearing the life or the story from somebody who is gay or lesbian made me reconsider how I was understanding certain verses.

(End Video Clip)

PHILLIPS: Well Rev. Mark Tidd joins us now live from Denver this morning. So Reverand, you once shared the church's view on homosexuality. Why the change of heart?

TIDD: Well the change of heart came when I had to help a family who's young child was transgendered. Their child had known since the time she was three that she was a boy. And at age seven, the parents decided their only option was to believe her, and start calling him by a boy's name and refer to he, him, and his. And then the family met with me, obviously distressed because they're facing a very uncertain future. But these were very courageous parents, and they wanted to know would I be there to support them, or would I pull the rug out from underneath them, what our theological beliefs that we're not accepting ultimately cause an environment where the child could not grow and have a healthy spiritual life. And, you know, that's a very tender thing, because my wife and I have five grandchildren, and three grandkids, and the thought that I could be contributing to an environment where anyone might grow up and not know that they are wildly loved by God and accepted for who they are, it's just heartbreaking, and as I'm looking at this family and thinking "I don't think there's anything wrong with their transgendered child, or what the homosexuals, the bisexuals, the gays and lesbians of my church – there was something wrong with my understanding of Scripture, and that's really what compelled me to start changing my views.

PHILLIPS: Well and you also, you lost your ordination in the Christian Reform Church for embracing gays. Why do you think this is so worth it? Obviously, you were very touched by this personal story, but I'm curious, you know, when I guess you could say the traditional members of the church come to you and say, you know, "Why is this worth it? Why are you doing this?" There's more to the argument, right, that just that, this is archaic thinking, and look, you can't take things from the Bible from so many years past and apply it to a world right now that is so different and has changed, and is grown, and is progressive?

TIDD: Right. And there are so many things that, in Scripture that, we don't cut them out of the Bible, but with more light and understanding and awareness that we live in a vastly different culture, we find that we have to change our understanding about it, or we just relinquish the Bible to obscurity and to nonsense. And because many people like myself have a high view of Scripture and take it in high regard, it's hard to let go of things until we realize our current view is actually contrary to the larger message of Scripture, and we need to be flexible and realize that our understanding is often wrong, and when our wrong thinking has serious consequences for the lives of people, then it's not incumbent on people to, in this case, to change something they can't change, it's incumbent on us to change our way of understanding them.

PHILLIPS: And I want to point out too – your church has grown, and continues to grown, grow rather. Let's listen to what some of your – some of the members in your congregation have to say about your concept.

(Video Clip)

JOE QUILLIN, parishoner, Highlands Church: I've been in churches for years where I was "Joe the gay guy." And here I am "Joe the follower of Christ."

Do we ever worry, like, "Oh god, am I wrong about this? And you know, am I going to get to heaven and God's going to be like 'No, you weren't supposed to let the gays serve communion,'" you know, like, I don't think so. It doesn't jive with the Jesus that we learn about from the Bible.

(End Video Clip)

PHILLIPS: And that's a pretty amazing message, like I pointed out that your church is growing leaps and bounds.

TIDD: Yeah. Yeah, it's really been exciting. Exactly a year ago, there were 80 of us, and this last Sunday there were over 300, and we live right next to the mountains, so on any Sunday if everybody came, there'd be a lot more than that, but we're always tempted to just go a half hour into the mountains, so anyways, it's been a really wonderfully fruitful time.

PHILLIPS: Well Rev. Mark Tidd, it's pretty amazing what you have done and continue to do, and it's obvious when you from members of your church, what a positive impact this is making on so many people's lives in a time where so many of our young kids are taking their own lives because no one's accepting them for being gay. Thanks so much for your time, Reverand.

TIDD: Right. Well thank you so much.

PHILLIPS: You bet. And this Saturday, Highlands Church is having their second annual symposium titled "The Evangelical Church and Homosexuality." Christian singer Jennifer Napp, who recently came out as being gay, will be one of the keynote speakers.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014