A leading Christian publisher has cancelled a book deal with a young writer after he came out as gay.
Brandan Robertson's book 'Nomad: Not-So-Religious Thoughts On Faith, Doubt, and the Journey In Between' was scheduled for publication in October. However, he revealed in a Time magazine article last month that he was gay and refused to sign Destiny Image's statement of faith on homosexuality, which includes the statements: "Destiny Image accepts the Holy Scriptures as the infallible word of God and answers all questions concerning life and godliness. We do not condone, encourage, or accept the homosexual lifestyle. Destiny Image renounces this lifestyle as ungodly and completely contrary to the Kingdom of God."
On Friday he was told by the publishers that his book had been pulled. Asked why, chief executive Don Nori told Time: "There is nothing significant to report. We did not reject or refuse. As with all books, a publisher decides what is financially viable. We released the book back to the author with our sincere prayers for his success. This occurrence happens every season."
Robertson, who lives in Washington DC, wrote on his Revangelical blog yesterday that he had received an email from the publisher a few hours after he had submitted his manuscript referring to "concerns" from book buyers: "As soon as I read those words, a knot formed in my stomach. My heart began to race. I have received emails like this before from leaders at my Bible College and churches I had been a part of. I immediately knew that the problem was going to be with my support of LGBTQ equality and inclusion in the Church."
He was told that the publisher had tried to sell the book to a number of Christian distributors and had been told that because of of his identification with the LGBTQ Christian community, they had refused to buy it.
Robertson, who identifies himself an an evangelical, wrote: "There is a major problem within Evangelical Christianity. And that problem is that many leaders within Evangelicalism have decided that the Gospel is not truly good news for everyone. For LGBTQ people, the Gospel is not that you are loved, forgiven, and accepted just as you are. Instead, the message is 'get straight', be celibate, or be damned. For LGBTQ allies, the Gospel isn't about grace; it's about theological conformity. If you disagree on this one issue, the unforgivable sin, you are literally banned. From church, from school, from publishing, from heaven."
British commentator and former worship leader Vicky Beeching, who came out last year, and is currently in Washington meeting publishers about her own book, said: "Brandan is a new friend of mine. His story hits close to home and will make me very cautious about ensuring I sign with [a publisher] who fully endorses my orientation.
"I am so saddened by the way he's been treated. To have your creative work set against your LGB or T identity is crushing and I know the feeling well. When I wrote worship songs for...EMI's Christian division, I always felt that sense of pain - either I could continue to have my songs published by the biggest Christian song publisher, or I could speak up about my gay identity. But not both. It's especially unfair because, in both Brandan's case and mine, neither his book or my songs were 'about being gay'. They were simply just words about spirituality, yet those words suddenly become undesirable in the light of the author's newly announced sexual orientation.
"Situations like Brandan's highlight the ongoing struggle for many of us LGBT evangelicals - that coming out is still a costly choice, especially if your livelihood or creative outlet is controlled by conservative churches or Christian companies."
The issue of homosexuality polarises Christians in the US and opposition to it is regarded by many as a criterion of orthodoxy. Former megachurch pastor Rob Bell is regarded by many evangelicals as having put himself outside the evangelical fold by his public advocacy on a recent Oprah Winfrey show of the need for the Church to recognise same-sex marriage.
Among Destiny Image's other authors are popular pastors T D Jakes and Bill Johnson.