My name is Phil Arms. The church that I pastor and I were recently the focus of an article in your paper [News, "Farewell to Arms," by Randall Patterson, December 7]. If I had been allowed the equal space that I requested to respond to that caustic and demeaning article, then I am certain your readers would have been treated to a fair and just response.
I am praying that you have the courage and sense of fairness to print this entire letter without edits. Space forbids my attempts to correct the multitude of errors, misquotes and flat-out fabrications contained in that article.
Please do know that I am a Christian. I deeply love the Lord Jesus Christ. Twenty plus years ago, I accepted Him as my Lord. He graciously received, forgave and changed me.
As a Christian living in post-Christian America, with an extensive media ministry, I do not expect the darkened philosophies of a hedonistic society to appreciate nor applaud my love for Christ nor His message I preach.
I do, however, want to apologize if you would so allow it.
I would first ask your reporter for his forgiveness. I found him to be very cordial and polite when he was here, which I am certain added to my shock when seeing his article. Though I, my staff and a number of our church members thought we had offered him every courtesy, we were obviously abysmal failures in our Christian witness.
I want to also apologize to the homosexuals who may have read the article. A casual reading of it would lead one to believe Phil Arms hates homosexuals and that I possibly even have "a latent desire" to see them murdered.
Some quotes he attributed to me were often out of context, and I apologize to those who perceive, as a result of the article, that I have malice or hate toward any living person because of their sexual habits.
I want every homosexual to know that while I am convinced homosexuality is sin, sinners are the full focus of God's redeeming love. I have witnessed thousands of homosexuals repent, receive Christ and be changed. I have also seen hundreds of thousands of other "sinners," of which we all are, do the same.
I pray that any homosexual who may have seen that article would forgive any image ever presented of me that would cause them to think that I do not care about them. I do. I cannot tell you how sorry I am to know that one may feel otherwise.
Lastly, I apologize to any of the public who may have read the article. I will diligently attempt in the future to more clearly communicate my heart and to guard against words, attitudes and actions that convey anything less than a Christlike spirit.
Please know how sorry I am for not being more aggressive in my efforts with the Press to convey our love, burden and concern for people. I indeed do have a long way to go and thankfully God is not through with me yet.
Tragically, our television program declaring God's love for homosexuals and heterosexuals can no longer be heard in Houston. Channel 20/Paramount has kicked our program off the air, blaming the Federal Communications Commission. The secular media outlets seem fearful to report this matter.
Upon request, I will gladly provide the Paramount attorney's letter informing us that our message, the Gospel, is not, according to them, in the "public's interest." These folk have decided to protect Houstonians, because obviously they have not the sense to protect themselves from Phil Arms' "dangerous" message proclaiming repentance and life. I suppose that is terribly revolutionary stuff.
Makes one wonder why newspaper and ink are not being used to expose the heinous acts of censorship, illegal business practices and the violation of religious freedom and civil rights, instead of assassinating the character of some "hayseed" preacher, doesn't it?
Can Channel 20/Paramount really get away with such blatant, un-American activities while this city's major media closes its eyes to cover up this unprecedented censorial conduct? After they have silenced voices like mine simply because they "just do not agree," I wonder, don't you, what group, what voice or what lifestyle they will quietly move against next?
Think not Hitler's concentration camps fired their ovens for Jews only. The smoke from those oven chimneys carried the ashes of Christians, Communists, Libertarians and homosexuals. Tyranny, be it against freedom of speech or of the human spirit, holds nothing sacred.
And think not that such is a stretch. As the philosopher once said, "Those who forget the atrocities of the past are destined to repeat them in the future."
So tell me who, now applauding the silencing of our message, is going to be the focus of the next assault?
Pastor Phil Arms
Editor's reply: We present Arms' letter here in its entirety, not wanting to be accused of censorship and because we believe, in the words of that wise non-Christian Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, that sunlight is the best disinfectant. We stand by the story, and further note that a fuller rendering of Arms' remarks during his final Channel 20 broadcast would have revealed that the minister, in discussing the rights of homosexuals, averred, "You have no more right to practice homosexuality than I have the right to rob a bank with a shotgun or blow away my wife and children. It is not a God-given right." Then, after saying that the Old Testament holds homosexuality to be a sin worthy of capital punishment, he said, "I'm preaching the Bible, and if you can't take it, go be a Buddhist." As quoted in Patterson's story, he added, "Do you think we ought to kill all the homosexuals? Let me tell you something -- they're already dead. They're like festering maggots of society spreading their disease E. " Arms went on to say that God hates the sin but loves the sinner, and that he has ministered to gays. "And let me tell you something," he continued, "you homosexuals watching at home -- send me hate mail, death threats if you want, but you are dead. You are the most miserable piece of flesh crawling on God's green earth."
With that in mind, we found it interesting that Arms, in inveighing against censorship of his message, would choose to paraphrase the noted early 20th century Harvard philosopher George Santayana. In addition to warning that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," Santayana also wrote, "The idea that religion contains a literal, not a symbolic, representation of truth and life is simply an impossible idea."
A Different God
I do not know what God the "Reverend" Phil Arms worships, but it is not the same God that I worship. My God does not condone judgmental twits like Mr. Arms and will take care of people like him in his own way and in his own good time. Phil Arms is a prime example of the most vile and reprehensible religious personalities I've ever seen.
These religious bigots stand behind the Bible to give their opinions some sense of false validity. You hear them scream that homosexuality is against God's law (per Leviticus 18:22) -- even though many topnotch religious scholars have declared that the writer was not talking about homosexuality in that verse. Nonetheless, if you believe that Leviticus 18:22 is God's Law and declares homosexuality to be an abomination, then you must also believe and support Leviticus 11:12, which states that God condemns eating shrimp, oysters, clams, crawfish and lobster. It also condemns masturbation and it does not allow a woman to go into a church while she is menstruating.
I find it sad that some people use bits and pieces of the Bible to support their narrow points of view. Hate and violence are not solutions to anything. Why don't these religious zealots get out and do something about the child pornographers, child abusers and their very own "supposedly superior" heterosexual congregants having sex out of wedlock and filing for divorce at every turn?
It's easy to look over one's own inadequacies while blasting your neighbor for his shortcomings. People who buy into this mindless religious drivel need to deeply examine their own personal relationship with their God. God is about love and acceptance, not hate and persecution.
I pray that God has mercy on those who would judge and condemn another group of people. God has said, very clearly, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."
Those spawn of punks ["Papa Was a Punk," by Brad Tyer, December 14] sure seem sharp (though why are they all girls? Even Coco and Frances Bean are girls). Let's hope they don't learn how to spell the same way the rest of us did. It's Seuss, not Suess, but I wager the little stinkerbells have already told ya.
Editor's reply: As a matter of fact, they have....
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.