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Rev. Brandan Robertson

Biography

Rev. Brandan Robertson was born in 1992 and raised in Columbia, Maryland in a non-religious home. After a powerful conversion experience at the age of twelve in a fundamentalist Baptist church, he sensed a call to pastoral ministry. Soon after he began to recognize that he was gay, which led him into a decade long struggle to reconcile his faith and his sexuality. 

While attending Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Robertson was mentored by a prominent ex-gay professor who reinforced non-affirming Christian beliefs, but Robertson began to read Biblical scholarship and interview prominent theologians and pastors on his campus radio show that challenged these beliefs. As Robertson began to publicly express his questions and doubts about evangelical theology, he was threatened with expulsion from Moody multiple times, and eventually was strongly encouraged to begin conversion therapy to prove his faithfulness to an evangelical perspective on homosexuality. For his entire senior year at Moody, Robertson met with a professor for a version of conversion therapy called “Healing Prayer”. By the end of the year, Robertson saw no “healing” from his sexuality, and was deeply disturbed by the fear-based theology he had been taught at Moody. 

After graduating from Moody in 2014, he moved to Washington, D.C. where he was invited to become the National Spokesperson of Evangelicals For Marriage Equality, a new organization devoted to promoting civil marriage equality for LGBTQ+ people among evangelical Christians. Upon launching the organization with an op-ed in TIME magazine in September 2014, the Southern Baptist Convention responded with a follow-up op-ed condemning Robertson and EME as being an unbiblical and dangerous move to try to change evangelical ethics related to homosexuality. At the same time, Robertson completed his first book, Nomad: A Spirituality for Traveling Light, with Destiny Image Publishers, but eventually had his contract canceled by the publisher because of his public support of LGBTQ+ marriage equality. During this debacle, Robertson was accidentally “outed” in an article in TIME magazine story about him losing his book deal. This resulted in broad condemnation of Robertson by the evangelical community as Robertson became the target of numerous articles and radio shows by evangelical leaders declaring him to be a “heretic”.

During this season, Robertson began working for Faith In Public Life, a progressive, faith-based advocacy organization, working with progressive faith leaders across the country to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion in the church and society. In this role, he hosted the first gathering between Southern Baptist leaders and affirming Christian leaders at the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission conference on homosexuality in Nashville, Tennessee in 2014. Following this meeting, Robertson launched the RISE Network which worked to bring together affirming Christian leaders to help strategize how to help evangelicals move towards the full affirmation of LGBTQ+ people around the world. 

In 2015, Robertson began studying for his Masters of Theology at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. During this season, he launched Nomad Partnerships, a non-profit that promoted LGBTQ+ inclusion in Christian churches, and begin traveling throughout the country and Europe, meeting with LGBTQ+ Christian organizations, governments, and speaking in churches to promote a “gospel of inclusion”. This same year, Robertson finally released his book Nomad with Darton, Longman, and Todd, a progressive British publisher, and soon after edited an anthology of LGBTQ+ Christian stories called Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBTQ+ Christians. While in Denver, Robertson also briefly worked for the Mountain Sky Conference of The United Methodist Church under Bishop Karen Oliveto, the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church, assisting in the conference’s communication strategy. During this time, Robertson was also appointed to the U.S. State Departments Working Group on Religion and LGBTQ+ rights, where he collaborated with government officials and faith leaders to combat religiously rooted homophobia around the world. 

Upon graduating from Iliff in 2017, Robertson was called to the be Lead Pastor of Missiongathering Christian Church in San Diego, California, a progressive, inclusive, evangelical church. During his time at Missiongathering, Robertson released six more books on topic related to LGBTQ+ inclusion and racial justice, as well as two best-selling devotionals. While pastoring, Robertson began studying at Eastern Illinois University in 2018 to obtain his Masters in Political Science in order to assist in his political work advocating for the human rights of LGBTQ+ people. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Robertson turned his attention to spreading a message of inclusion on social media, and quickly became one of the leading progressive Christian voices on TikTok, garnering over 200,000 followers and 5 million views in his first year, leading Rolling Stone magazine to name Robertson on their 2021 “Hot List” of influencers and leaders that were impacting the world for good. That same year he stepped down as the Pastor of Missiongathering and launched a digital faith community called “Metanoia”, which attracted hundreds of young people from around the world who were longing for an inclusive faith community.

In 2022, Robertson moved to New York City to begin his Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at Drew University and was appointed the Pastor of Sunnyside Reformed Church in Queens, New York. He continues to do extensive work on social media, writes widely on the topic of LGBTQ+ inclusion, and speaks around the world to churches, universities, and governments about the dangers of conversion therapy, the value of inclusive faith communities, and the necessity of protections for LGBTQ+ people from discrimination.

(This biographical statement submitted by Brandan Robertson.)

Biography Date: October 2023

Tags

Baptist | Evangelical | Clergy Activist | Author/editor | Marriage Equality | Online activist

Citation

“Rev. Brandan Robertson | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed July 13, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/brandan-robertson.

Remembrances

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