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Jay Bakker on Gays, God and Religion

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Jay Bakker on Gays, God and Religion

Jay Bakker as featured in the Sundance Channel original series "One Punk Under God."

William Glasheen

Jay Bakker knows God. He doesn't proclaim to know God personally, only God's love and acceptance. Bakker has dedicated his life to teaching God's word, but not in the way most expect him to as the son of evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.

Jay, born Jamie Charles, doesn't believe in an exclusive God, only one that embraces us all for who we are, including same-gender-loving individuals. In this exclusive interview, Jay Bakker talks about God's love, his estranged relationships, the transition from golden child to punk rocker, his new church and Jesus' "crappy fan club."

Tell me about Revolution Church and your movement?

We're a church just trying to show people people how to love Christ. We open the doors of the church and welcome people in. Just loving people as Christ and being inclusive rather than exclusive.

Do you find that hard to do given your conservative upbringing with your parents Jim and Tammy Faye?

I find it challenging in different ways. Sometimes people don't want to be included. And then there are a lot of people who don't want you to include everybody. They think that you're either opening the door too wide or you're condoning sin and that can be a struggle. But we feel convicted to do what we do. It's what God's called us to do--love people where they're at [in life].

Are people getting the message that God loves everybody? Do you strive to overcome messages of hate within religion?

We definitely strive to overcome that. It takes time, especially for anyone that grows up in the church. They feel like God is waiting for them to mess up or make a mistake. I still struggle with that. There are so many times when you feel like God is trying to hit you over the head because of the way you were raised. You're always told that God doesn't approve or God doesn't love you enough. The most difficult thing is to understand that you're accepted.

The issue of including gays in your church and your stance on gay marriage has been a turning point for Revolution; and obviously you've made the decision that there is a place for the glbt community. Is your church ready for that?

There are some people that disagree with me. I've agreed to hear them out and we've agreed to disagree. I think that [including glbt people in the church] is something that's important. Hopefully we are able to see past these differences instead of fighting or yelling or condemning each other. To me, it's a sad state. How did we get this far from Christ?

When most gay people hear the word 'church' they cringe. Do you see Christian churches becoming more accepting towards glbt people in the future?

I don't even think it's just gay people. A lot of people [cringe] when they hear the word 'church,' but I do think the church is starting to make some changes. There are a lot of members who are realizing that they can't close the doors of the church anymore or open them with conditions. A lot of people adopt the 'love the sinner, hate the sin' philosophy, but I think that message eventually builds a wall between people then becomes about expectations and motives. Our motive should be to love people and that's all. Only God can change people, we can't. There are so many people that feel they have to change others.
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