SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - A local mayor is speaking out after sparking criticism over a speech he gave during a National Day of Prayer program.
Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey's office has received nearly 50 calls from all over the country, some in agreement and others in opposition to a speech he gave on Thursday. "I said I was probably going to get criticism and some concern," said Godsey. "[A secretary] got cussed a couple of times and one told me I was a moron."
We asked him what his specific words were in the speech. "It's disgraceful that for the last two or three weeks on the TV, every time you turn in on there is nothing else being focused on but the fact that an NBA ball player has come out and professed that he is a homosexual," said Godsey.
He says he's most upset that President Obama took the time to congratulate him when more pressing issues are at hand. "These vets are coming back from the war, some come back severely injured, some come back with severe effects on their mentality and having to go into John Hopkins and other veteran administration hospitals in the country. Does he take the time to call each and every one of them?" asked Godsey.
Mayor Godsey tells us he wasn't saying anything bad about the gay community but rather expressing frustration from the news coverage he had seen nationally. "Let's concentrate on commending some of our soldiers who have come over here and have been injured and commend some of these folks for doing other things, but let's move on," he said.
Godsey tells News 5 that while some of them were negative, the majority of calls he got were in support. "We've gotten a lot of calls commending us for our stand," he said.
Mayor Godsey tells us if he had known the statements would have brought so much media attention, he would have worded his statements better. However, he says he does not regret anything that was said.
According to the Kingsport Times-News (click here to read story), the following is a transcription of what Godsey said during the speech:
"I've been watching the TV this week and it appalls me, it just literally makes me furious, that we as a nation, as blessed as we are, what has been on the TV for the last week," Godsey said. "What has been on the TV for the past week? I could stand here and preach today. It really and truly just irritates me to the point I just, you know ... on the TV all week long we are celebrating an NBA player coming out as a devout homosexual and him getting a call from the president of the United States — the most free ... God bestowed more grace on this country than any other country in the world. And yet we have a president that calls and congratulates and commends a guy (as if) he's a national hero for coming out of the closet, per se. How disgraceful is that? And then we've got a past president that commends him for it. I, I tell you folks, if we don't get on our knees and pray for this nation, you know what's going to happen one day? For all of us in here, I believe we're all believers, but you know what's going to happen? We're going to cast our eyes up in the eastern sky and you know what we're going to see? We're going to see ‘Ichabod' written across through there. And God's gonna say ‘Hey, I've had it. You all got more ability and more potential and more chances to hear the word of God and hear scripture and be saved.' There's churches on every corner. There's probably more churches around here than there are school buildings. I mean, there are churches on every corner. But, yet, we allow the leader of our free nation to embarrass us. And you know what folks? It's our fault. Christians have sat on their rear ends and have sat too long and allowed for this kind of nonsense to go on. Now, I'm done preaching, I'm sorry."