taking the words of Jesus seriously

Last week, I was kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. Why, you might ask? Was I protesting? Causing a scene? Not at all. As an officially registered guest of the convention and as a former Southern Baptist myself, I was at the conference with Faith In America with only one goal- to have conversations with SBC Pastors about LGBT+ inclusion.

My first day at the conference was filled with wonderful conversations with pastors of churches, large and small, which were eager to hear my story and I, theirs. The conversations happened either by pastors approaching me because they were familiar of the work I did, or by me asking them if they would like to find some time to chat. Nothing about my presence or the presence of my colleagues was aggressive. We even hosted a free dinner and invited folks to come spend time with us in a non-threatening environment.

So why were my friends and I forcibly removed from the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting? I can only assume one thing.

That they are afraid.

And when we act from fear, we cannot act from love. And when we’re not acting from love, we’re not in step with the spirit of God. When we act from fear, we cannot hear the heart or stories of those who differ from us. When we are afraid, we prevent any growth, empathy, or understanding from flourishing and we continue to perpetuate stereotypes and oppressive behaviors, because when we’re afraid, we cannot think logically.

It is this same fear that drives the Southern Baptist Convention to preach a message of non-inclusion to LGBT+ people and this same fear that is instilled in the hearts of Southern Baptist LGBT+ youth who are eight times more likely to attempt suicide because of the traumatic teachings they hear.

I traveled across the country to the Southern Baptist Convention with love as my goal, but when love is met by fear, fear causes people to take all manner of irrational and unjust actions. It is my sincere prayer that the love that is the very essence and nature of God would break through the fear that enslaves the hearts of the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, so that they might be open and willing to hear the stories of those who see, think, and live differently from them. By removing us from the convention, they proved that they are not ready to engage in any meaningful conversation, but instead, desire to ignore and silence the voices of LGBT+ Christians.

This was another sad day in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. But I am encouraged by those conversations that did happen and confident that love and truth will have the final word.

About The Author


Rev. Brandan Robertson is a noted author, pastor, activist, and public theologian working at the intersections of spirituality, sexuality, and social renewal. He currently serves as the Lead Pastor of Metanoia Church, a digital progressive faith community. A prolific writer, he is the author of seven books on spirituality, justice, and theology, including the INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist True Inclusion: Creating Communities of Radical Embrace. Robertson has bylines in publications such as TIME Magazine, San Diego Union Tribune, The Huffington Post, NBC, and The Washington Post. As a trusted voice on progressive faith and politics, Robertson is regularly interviewed in national and global media outlets including National Public Radio, The Independent UK, and The New York Times. In July 2021, Rolling Stone magazine included Robertson in its annual “Hot List” of top artists, creatives, and influencers who "are giving us reason to be excited about the future." Named by the Human Rights Campaign as one of the top faith-leaders leading the fight for LGBTQ+ equality, Robertson has worked with political leaders and activists around the world to end conversion therapy and promote the human rights of sexual and gender minorities. He works as a national organizer of people of faith on a wide array of social and political issues, and is a founding member of The Union of Affirming Christians and The Global Interfaith Commission on LGBTQ+ Lives.

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