Out actor and singer Joshua Bassett has been baptized into a Christian church famous for its anti-gay and pro-conversion-therapy teachings.
“My name’s Joshua, and long story short, I grew up Christian, and ran the other way as far as I could go in search of truth,” Bassett said while onstage at the Bethel megachurch in Redding, California. “And that only ended in addition, depression, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, etc. And no other teacher gave me anywhere near the peace that Jesus Christ did, and I’m here to publicly declare him as my lord and savior.”
While we want to be happy for Bassett, we are also deeply worried. Bethel Church is led by pro-Trump, anti-LGBTQ+ millionaire pastors. And it is very clear on its stance on queer people like Bassett.
Bassett, who stars in the Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in 2021 after he made a video saying he’s attracted to Harry Styles.
"He's just cool," he said in an interview. "Who doesn't think Harry Styles is cool? Also, he's hot. He's very charming too. Lots of things. I guess this is also my coming out video I guess."
Bassett later clarified that he was still figuring out his sexuality and labels.
"There are plenty of letters in the alphabet...why bother rushing to a conclusion?" Bassett said on his social media at the time. "Sometimes your letter changes, sometimes you try a different one, other times you realize you're not what you thought you were, or maybe you always knew. All of these can be true. I'm happy to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community because they embrace all. Don't let anyone tell you love isn't love. They're the ones who probably need it the most."
Bethel Church has an entire page on its website dedicated to its beliefs on “Biblical Sexuality,” and yes, it’s as bad as you’re afraid it is.
The page talks about God creating us, male and female, and that those two genders do not work apart, only as complimentary, but as different parts in a whole. It says that a marriage between one man and one woman is the way God designed the world, and the way we should live, and anything other than that is a sin and is leading to the downfall of society.
One section is titled “Male and Female Are Fundamental and Essential Distinctions,” and as you can probably guess, discusses the “transgender issue.” It says that the church teaches that we shouldn’t “look to our desires, attractions, experiences, or inner world to find identity as male or female as a starting point; we look at biology. One may not like the starting point, or may wish it was different, but our chromosomal reality and anatomy at birth—which are not merely assigned, but observed and scientifically provable—are defining.”
Perhaps the most frightening part is a section called “Freedom with Jesus,” in which the church details its support of the debunked, and violent, practice called “conversion therapy.” In this type of therapy, people who identify as LGBTQ+ are counseled by church leaders to try and get them to identify as straight or cis.
“Some people experience same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria, including some in our church community—not because they were ‘born that way,’ but because they were born human into a fallen world, and because society has disrupted and confused how we teach children who they are,” the section says.
“There are many brothers and sisters in the Church who have identified as LGBTQ who, with the sort of freedom and interactions mentioned above, no longer understand themselves in those terms,” it continues. “It is possible to move into and out of LGBTQ identifications, and therefore freedom and access to resources should be protected, even if that outcome is to never again identify as LGBTQ.”
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with finding faith or being baptized. Journeys of faith are often beautiful times in a person’s life that lead to growth, self-discovery, and becoming your best self.
However, when an out queer person joins a church that says “it is possible to move into and out of LGBTQ identifications, and therefore freedom and access to resources should be protected, even if that outcome is to never again identify as LGBTQ,” on its website, we have to worry for their safety.
Bassett tweeted about the viral baptism video today.
“I visited this church and happened to get baptized here- I was unaware of some of their policies and beliefs, and do not endorse all of them,” he wrote on Twitter. “My heart is for Christ and Christ alone!”