Missouri Local GOP Chair Tried to Block Gay Pastor’s Library Board Reappointment

Josh Blevins and Brian Kirk

A Republican Party leader in St. Joseph, Mo., threatened to bar elected leaders from running for office as Republicans if they voted to reappoint a gay pastor as a library board member.

The Kansas City NPR affiliate KCUR reports that Buchanan County Republican Central Committee chair Steven Greiert emailed St. Joseph’s mayor and council regarding Brian Kirk’s library board seat renewal on August 4.

According to Greiert, if city council members vote to advance his reappointment, the Republican Party would not accept filing fees from them in the future if they run for other Republican positions.

Kirk’s renomination has been controversial since conservative Grace Calvary Chapel members started criticizing him this summer for supporting LGBTQ+ rights. Senior pastor Josh Blevins had led the charge against the gay pastor. Kirk is the pastor of First Christian Church and a volunteer on the library’s board.

As part of Greiert’s proposal to Mayor John Josendale, he suggested he dismiss people who affirm LGBTQ+ rights and replace them with “all new people, who would equally represent both sides of the issue on transgenderism and drag-queen shows and literature in the library.”

Although elected positions locally are nonpartisan, Greiert claimed the mayor and city council members ran on conservative values and with the support of Republicans, which they courted.

“You and the other City Council members can always run as Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, or pedestrians or anything else without our approval,” Greiert announced. “But you will need our endorsement before you can run as Republicans for anything anywhere.”

“If you choose to renew the appointment of Pastor Kirk and the continuation of the left-leaning majority that has existed on that Board for a long time, then we will know whom to hold accountable and whom we can no longer trust to lead the city,” he threatened.

The hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community among conservatives in the area is clear from the documents KCUR acquired.

Greiert sent an email on June 20 urging city council member Andy Trout not to approve Kirk to the library board.

“This transgender and homosexual propaganda is pure evil,” Greiert claimed. “It is designed to destroy the family, to undercut traditional American values and our way of life, and ultimately institute governmental control that will undermine our city, county, state, and nation.”

Trout replied affirmatively.

“I absolutely agree! Good news is that John pulled the nomination!” he responded.

Kirk has maintained that he is the victim of discrimination based on homophobia. He's found some solace in the support for him.

“Though it's a small community, it's a rather libertarian community where we respect differences,” Kirk said. “We sort of have a live and let live philosophy here. And although that's been tested over the last several months, I think it still holds true that we are a community that tries to be as welcoming as we can be.”

A number of community members are urging the city to extend nondiscrimination protections to all city board and commission volunteers. As far as the mayor was concerned, Kirk’s non-renomination to the library board was not discriminatory.

“Brian had done a good job on the library board when he was there. But again, when you look at boards,” Josendale told the station, “a lot of people are looking to see how things can be done differently.”

Kirk’s told KCUR earlier in the summer that he was told by Josendale that he wouldn't be reappointed to the board. Library director Mary Beth Revels was also at the meeting and corroborated the conversation and Kirk's version of events. Josendale allegedly said too many people had emailed about the renomination.

“He said, ‘it’s just causing conflict in the city.’ And for my protection and my church's protection, he was gonna go ahead and take me off the board,” Kirk told the outlet. “He then proceeded to talk about, ‘people are concerned about woke ideology spreading and too many Pride flags in our downtown.’”

Revels said, “The mayor at that point was just like, ‘I’m sorry. I respect you. I think you've done a great job. I just don't want this controversy. And I think that the best way to not hurt you, not hurt the library, not hurt the city, is to just stop right here.”

In an email to KCUR, Josendale said those accounts of the conversation were “not true.” However, the mayor wouldn't answer questions from the outlet about what parts were not true. The mayor ended up listing Kirk for renomination, but Kirk only received two recommendations out of nine.

Kirk was not renominated for the board.

Pictured above is Josh Blevins (L) and Brian Kirk.