Crystal Cheatham was 23 years old when she was told she couldn’t be gay and Christian.
Cheatham, who had grown up attending and singing at a Seventh-day Adventist church, was about to graduate from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Hearing that her identities as a lesbian and a Christian could be in conflict, she said, was heartbreaking.
“When I came out, I was told by ministers so far above me that I couldn’t be an out lesbian and also be on the stage as a leader, and it crushed me. It crushed me so hard,” she said. “I felt like I was at an impasse at the road in my life and I had to decide between this love for my God and my personal identity.”
Now an activist and writer, Cheatham has set out to create a digital space for LGBTQ people to explore their own spiritual practice without having to surrender any part of their identity. She is leading the effort to create Our Bible, an app set to release this Christmas that plans to offer at least 20 Bibles and more than 300 devotional readings, meditation exercises, articles and podcasts for LGBTQ Christians and others who feel marginalized by mainstream Christianity.
Christianity may be the most-practiced religion by lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the U.S. A 2014 Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center surveyed more than 35,000 people who identified as LGB and found that 48 percent of them identified as Christian, with the largest portions of that group identifying as Protestant (29 percent) and Catholic (17 percent).
But their identities are often controversial among Christian faith leaders who point to Biblical passages that they say condemn homosexuality — interpretations that are disputed by other members of their community. And while different denominations of Christianity have varying stances, major Christian groups, including the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with numerous evangelical groups, continue to condemn same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights.
As a result, LGBTQ people tend to see major religions in the U.S. as “unfriendly” toward their communities. Read more via PBS