In the latest installment of Refinery 29’s “State of Grace” video series, the show took aim at popular L.A. megachurches and attendees for practicing standard, longheld Christian beliefs.
As criticisms of faith and Christianity grow, expect conversations and confrontations like this become more prevalent.
The video begins with host Grace Baldridge talking about the Christian church culture in L.A., one that is thriving amongst celebrities.
Her video, titled “The Dark Reality Of Celebrity Endorsed Mega-Churches,” holds the premise that Baldridge is going to unveil some ominous secret.
Instead, she pointed out that celebrities should stop attending the L.A. megachurches because they are not inclusive to LGBT+ people when it comes to service and marriage.
“Newlyweds Justin and Hailey Bieber are basically poster-children for megachurches, and Kanye West’s Christian Sunday Service in Calabasas has turned into a social media phenomenon,” Cory Steig, Refinery29 writer said regarding the video.
“The question of LGBTQ inclusion comes up frequently with regards to this brand of image-obsessed, trendy megachurch. Some claim to have ‘open doors,’ but, in actuality, aren’t completely welcoming of LGBTQ+ members or supportive of the LGBTQ+ community,” Steig said, summing up what Baldrdige discussed in her video.
Baldridge takes a deeper dive into what it means to ‘affirm’ members of the LGBT community. “Are churches really welcoming if they are unwilling to affirm all?”
Baldridge interviews a woman named Stormie Rae who attended a L.A. church called Oasis with her wife for a year.
She told Baldridge that before they attended, she emailed the church to see if they would be accepting of her and her wife.
The church responded: “The answer is a resounding ‘YES!’… We do not reject people because of their sexual orientation or any other kind of issue that they are facing.”
During the time, Rae did not see anything wrong with their response, but when looking back at the email, she said the opposite.
“I felt like they were trying to tip us off that our sexual orientation is an issue we are facing,” she said.
She shared with Baldridge that during a church service, there was a promotional video in which members were celebrating recovery that they had been set free from when a picture of a woman with a sign that said “I used to struggle with same-sex attraction” flashed on the screen.
Rae and her wife sat through the service and then didn’t return.
Baldridge went on to say that she wished, like LGBTQ+ people, that churches would “come out, be overt, and own their stance,” when it comes to LGBTQ+ relations.
Finding God at a Drag Conference
Following her visit with Rae, Baldridge heads to RuPaul’s Drag Con, where she “finds God.”
“It’s been said that you find God where you least expect him,” Baldridge narrates, “and today God is at RuPaul’s Drag Con.”
“Every year, Drag Con kicks off its final day of festivities with a Sunday service, lead by the most iconic queens, ready to praise his holy name.”
The sermon led by pastor Jerrell Walls who “understands the importance of finding an affirming community that makes an example of God’s unconditional love.”
“Drag Con is a place Jesus would be,” Walls says in the video while wearing a traditional clergy outfit.
“The true spirit of Christianity is a message of love, a message of forgiveness, and a message of inclusion. I think in a way there is no surprise that many people who are into drag are, also people of faith,” Fenton Bailey, co-creator of RuPaul’s Drag Race said.
“Drag is pretty spiritual at its core,” Bailey added.
At the tail end of Baldridge’s visit to RuPaul’s, she asked Pastor Walls what he thinks about churches saying that they welcome all people, but having stipulations in place.
“It’s frustrating,” he replied, “because I know they will collect your offering, they’ll take your attendance, but they won’t allow you to do anything. It shows that second class citizenship and we’re told we are all one in Christ.”
Baldridge’s visit to Mosaic L.A.
Baldridge’s next stop was supposed to be Mosaic, a popular church in L.A., but according to Baldridge, they canceled the day before.
Baldridge then claims that following Mosaics cancellation, they found a twitter thread about Mosaic and LGBTQ+ members who had left the church.
Refinery29 then reached out to a plethora of people who had left the church and brought them all together to talk about their experiences.
“Why do you think that Mosaic is not transparent on the issue of LGBTQ inclusion?” Baldridge begins by asking the group.
“It’s publicity,” one responds.
One adds that the pastors one-on-one will tell you that they love you and that they understand, but once they get on stage, they adhere to the doctrine of the church.
Baldridge next asks the group how many of them tried to raise concerns or hold the church accountable with their issues with the LGBTQ+ crowd, to which every person raises their hand.
“We all tried to stay,” one woman said, “we all just want to see change.”
And that, apparently, is where the rubber meets the road. When confronted with what the Bible clearly identifies as a sin, many would rather choose their sin and expect the church to circumvent God’s commands.
She then claims that hundreds of people have left the church over the churches biblical stance on traditional marriage.
“They’re terrified to speak out because you get blocked, you get unfollowed, you get rumors spread about you.”
Another woman spoke out, saying that Mosaic has been “unkind” because they have “lied to people” about their beliefs.
“So where do we go from here?” Baldridge asked rhetorically. “How can we engage in thoughtful discourse if only one side is coming to the table?”
“This lack of clarity not only stifles conversation, but it deceives a community that has long been abused by religion,” Baldridge says. “To belong is to be included, to be allied to — not to be lied to, to be condemned by, or to be cast aside. The good news is, churches don’t have a monopoly on community.”
Although Baldridge claims that only one side is coming to the table, it seems that the entire premise for the discussion has been pre-determined.
Baldridge, along with those interviewed in this video, aren’t looking for a friendly discussion, nor are they seeking compromise. Like the ex-Mosaic goers mentioned, they are looking for a change.
They want Mosaic to change their rules to allow LGBTQ+ people to sit in positions of power, even though altering such doctrine would require altering the Bible, or picking and choosing which pieces of scripture to follow.
While Baldridge originally approached the topic with questions, it can be seen in the video rather quickly that she had a mission: to challenge churches to change their doctrine to adhere to LGBTQ rights.
One Youtube user who commented on the video put it plainly: “Church belongs to Christ. It should not be based on my or your ideas of what a church should be or should not be.”