US: Why This LGBT+ Christian Keeps Going To Southern Baptist Conferences

Rev. Brandan Robertson is a noted spiritual thought-leader, contemplative activist, and commentator, working at the intersections of spirituality, sexuality, and social renewal. Brandan is the author of Nomad: A Spirituality For Travelling Light and writes regularly for Patheos, Beliefnet, and The Huffington Post. He has published countless articles in respected outlets such as TIME, NBC, The Washington Post, Religion News Service, and Dallas Morning News. As sought out commentator of faith, culture, and public life, he is a regular contributor to national media outlets and has been interviewed by outlets such as MSNBC, NPR, SiriusXM, TIME Magazine, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Associated Press. Acclaimed as one of “the most hope-inspiring young Christian leaders”, Brandan speaks to diverse audiences around the globe and has been an honored guest speaker at a wide range of venues, from lecturing on spirituality at Oxford University to speaking at the White House on the impact of spiritual bullying. 

Today I am in Nashville, Tennessee, attending the Southern Baptist Conventions “Ethics and Religious Liberty Commissions” annual conference called “Christ-Centered Parenting In A Complex World”. On the surface, they may seem like a strange place to find someone like me ― I am an openly queer, progressive activist, and the pastor of a liberal Christian church in San Diego.

Every Sunday, at some point in our church service, I make reference to how many folks in our congregation come from a religious background that excluded them, and reaffirm that absolutely everyone is welcome to the communion table, where all humans stand equal in dignity, value, and love before the God who has saved us all.

The exclusive religious tradition I am talking about nine times out of ten is the Southern Baptist Convention. It is the largest Protestant denomination in the country and it’s thousands of church fill up the map, ranging from small rural churches to bustling 10,000+ member megachurches in America’s largest cities. Because of the Southern Baptists influence on American religious, education, and politics, it’s hard for any American not to have been, in some way, influenced by this brand of Christianity.

As a young Christian teenager, I dreamed of being a Southern Baptist pastor- speaking to thousands of people about Jesus every Sunday, proclaiming a message of repentance to our nation that was falling by the moral wayside. But when I was in college and discovered I was queer, I quickly saw that there was no place for me in the Southern Baptist Convention. I began to hear message from Southern Baptist preachers that said that unless I suppressed and sought to heal my sexual orientation, I would prove myself to be “unsaved” and damned to hell. I watch YouTube videos where preachers railed against the gay agenda that was fundamentally opposed to the message of Jesus. 

These messages caused me tremendous emotional distress ― I love my God and my church more than ever, and yet I couldn’t deny who I was. But if I embraced my true self, I would be condemned to hell.  Read more via HuffPost