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Joshua Bassett's Fans Raise Concerns After He Joins A Megachurch Who Advocate For Conversion Therapy

Photo: Instagram & Twitter
Joshua Bassett, Bethel Church baptism

Fans are expressing their concern for Joshua Bassett’s well-being after he seemingly joined a controversial California megachurch called Bethel Church.

Bassett, who came as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in May 2022, was raised Christian and left the religion as a teenager.

Given Bassett's transparency about struggling with his mental health and identifying as a member of the community — though he has never labeled his sexuality or gender — his abrupt return to religion in the past few months has some people worried.

While religion can bring healing and spiritual connection to those who want it, not all religious organizations exist for the greater good.

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Bethel Church's controversial teachings have left fans of Joshua Bassett feeling concerned about his membership.

Bethel Church is a neo-charismatic megachurch in Redding, California.

Bassett posted news of his baptism to Twitter on February 13, 2023. The video Bassett posted features footage of himself on stage at Bethel Church.

In the video, he states, “My name’s Joshua, and long story short, I grew up Christian, and I ran the other way, as far as I could go, in pursuit of ‘truth,’” using air quotes around the word truth.

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“That only ended in addiction, depression, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, etcetera,” Bassett said.

The star of "High School Musical: The Series" revealed in December 2021 that he was sexually abused by an unnamed relative when he was 5 years old and has battled with mental illness since.

“No other teacher gave me anywhere near the peace that Jesus Christ did,” he continued as the crowd cheered wildly. “I’m here to publicly declare him as my Lord and Savior.”

Fans expressed their concerns about Bethel Church’s alleged conversion therapy program, called the CHANGED Movement.

Bethel Church has a statement on beliefs on Biblical sexuality posted to their website, in which they claim “the area of our sexuality… is becoming more confusing than ever before.”

“For those who identify as LGBTQ, we want you to experience the love of God and our love expressed in honor, compassion, respect, and safety,” the statement goes on. “The pain, trauma, and injustices you’ve experienced matter to Him and to us.”

The statement then notes that “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.”

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Bethel Church’s CHANGED Movement identifies itself as a “worldwide, grassroots network of people who have left LGBTQ behind to follow Christ wholeheartedly.”

“We provide pastoral and peer support to people leaving LGBTQ to follow Christ,” the CHANGED Movement’s website claims.

In its mission statement, CHANGED states that “to identify as both LGBTQ and Christian [are] antithetical to the born-again experience.”

“CHANGED does not believe that sexual union between two people of the same sex adequately reflects the identity and purposes of God in humanity,” the website says. “Such a view actually distorts our understanding of God.”

“Through partnership with the Holy Spirit, we can begin to identify moments of same-sex attraction or gender confusion as sign posts of unresolved traumas or wrong perceptions,” the website claims.

In 2019, Bethel Church became embroiled in a scandal after a guest speaker suggested that she had successfully turned away from homosexuality.

Equipped to Love Co-Founder Elizabeth Woning discussed leaving behind her identity as a lesbian for a 13-year marriage to a man.

"I believed I was born gay and that God had created me that way," Woning claimed.

"As I further studied Christian doctrine, I no longer believed I was born a lesbian. [...] Today I am happy, joyful, and feminine -- all things I never was while living as a lesbian. I am no longer sexually attracted to women. Rather, I am a strong advocate for their empowerment."

As fans began to question Bassett's place in the church, he returned to Twitter in an attempt to clarify his position.

“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. My heart is for Christ and Christ alone!” He tweeted.

Fans of Bassett first began to worry when the Disney Channel Star abruptly posted a series of religious tweets beginning in January 2023.

Previously, on December 24, 2022, Bassett tweeted “most people i know, including myself, are struggling right now.”

His tweet continued, “please be good to yourselves and others, reach out to support those you love and don't be afraid to ask for help.”

On January 5, 2023, days after his vulnerable and troubling post, the “Lie Lie Lie” singer tweeted, “Jesus Christ is the only way.”

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“Turn away from hate, seek forgiveness, and come home to Him,” the tweet continued.

Fans were alarmed by Bassett’s connection to Bethel Church, which promotes conversion therapy for LGBTQ church members, a dangerous and debunked form of counseling that seeks to change queer people’s sexual orientation.

A 2019 survey from the Trevor Project showed that exposure to conversion therapy makes LGBTQ+ youth extremely vulnerable to self-harm.

The research study concluded that 42% of young people who had been subjected to treatments intended to change their sexual orientation or gender identity reported that they had contemplated taking their own lives within the prior year.

Bassett came out on Instagram on May 11, 2022, with a post that began, “My entire life people have told me my sexuality."

"People have shamed me for things they know nothing about. I want to say thank you to those of you who stand for love and acceptance.”

The Instagram post continued with Bassett exclaiming “love who you love shamelessly.”

“It’s ok to still be figuring out who you are. Life’s too short to let ignorance and hatred win,” he said.

He wrote, “I choose love,” along with heart emojis following the rainbow color spectrum.

While Bassett is correct in his assertion that it’s totally okay to “still be figuring out who you are,” his connection to a church that perpetuates harmful narratives and actions against queer people is disturbing.

Bassett is clearly seeking and vulnerable, which he made clear when he opened up to GQ magazine about being abused as a child and teenager.

It can’t be known if Bassett is experiencing outside pressure to align himself with Bethel Church.

What is known is that any religious organization that denies people the right to be who they truly are is a destructive force, one that doesn’t actually preach acceptance. 

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If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a way to get help. Contact The Trevor Project for support.