Former Disney Channel star and musician Joshua Bassett was baptized this morning at Bethel Church in Redding, California. Bassett’s breakout role in Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series alongside fellow actress and singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo took him to new heights, but also came with a lot of negative press attention.
It has long been rumored that Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett’s previous relationship and alleged love triangle with fellow ex-Disney actress and musician Sabrina Carpenter was the subject of Rodrigo’s Grammy winning debut album SOUR. The rumors alone sent social media into a frenzy.
Though many jokes at Bassett’s expense were intended to be light-hearted, things quickly took a dark turn. In an appearance on the Zach Sang Show in 2022 ahead of the release of Bassett’s 2021 EP Crisis/Secret/Set Me Free, he revealed that he was receiving death threats, and that his health had taken a turn for the worst amid the stress. Bassett also spoke out regarding surviving sexual assault as a child.
Following the love triangle rumors, Bassett came out as an unlabeled part of the LGBTQ+ community. This is why fans of the singer-songwriter are concerned regarding his sudden change of tune on Christianity, given the religious trauma that can come with several sects of Christianity.
Bethel Church, currently led by Pastor Bill Johnson, is home to a non-denominational branch of Christianity. Unlike other branches of Christianity, including Catholicism, Episcopalianism, and Lutheranism, in which typically only infants are baptized, this branch of the religion allows baptism at any age. Baptism in several sects of Non-Denominational Christianity is often viewed as a once and for all cleansing of sins, and a one-way ticket to salvation.
— Joshua Bassett (@joshuatbassett) February 13, 2023
Bethel Church also supports Conversion Therapy, which seeks to convert people who identify under the LGBTQ+ umbrella to heterosexuality. This is where the concern for Bassett comes in, as some fear that he may have chosen to be baptized under the belief that his sexuality is a sin.
The church rebranded Conversion Therapy to be referred to as “The Transformation Center.” Bethel’s official website states that, “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.”
However, pastors from Bethel have been proponents of the “Once Gay” movement, which centers on people who are perceived as successfully completing conversion therapy. The church allegedly preaches beliefs that are even criticized by other non-denominational and evangelical churches regarding raising the dead. Former church goers on TikTok have come forward with a variety of negative stories.
Reply to @alyssabreannvan Short answer: 👎 I couldn’t condense this one #bethel #christian #harmfultheology #exvangelical #deconstruction #faith
Others feel that regardless of Bassett’s personal journey, Bassett has now become a beacon of hope for many young LGBTQ+ fans of his music and acting career, and that his choice to join this particular congregation was made in poor taste.
idk man joshua bassett went thru some shit w his health and the olivia stuff and coming out as queer and talking about SA as a kid like such a vulnerable tough time and now hes acting like this and ppl think its NORMAL??!!! nah man no these mega churches PREY on the vulnerable
— t (@tare_able) February 13, 2023
what concerns me abt the whole joshua bassett baptism situation isn’t that he’s become a christian – people have every right to follow any faith. it’s that he got baptized at a megachurch that openly condemns same sex relations and supports conversion therapy.
— bec 💭 its always gabby day (@becsclub) February 13, 2023
Joshua Bassett running to a mega church that supports conversion therapy to “get saved” ain’t it.
Especially when you’re on a show that features a mostly LGBTQ cast members & storylines. What a betrayal of LGBTQ friends & fans.
— Patrick Dougall (@PatrickADougall) February 13, 2023
Some Christian influencers have criticized the concern, believing that Gen Z does not respect Christianity enough and that Bassett simply could have come to the religion on his own.
God thank you for saving @joshuatbassett Let’s all keep praying for him because its hard out there!!! #christian #jesuschrist #christiantiktok #jesuslovesyou #joshuatbassett #jesus #christianity #godislove #christianitytiktok #churchtiktok #joshuabassettupdates #fypシ゚viral #joshuabassett #worship #trending #greenscreenvideo
Joshua Bassett is a CHRISTIAN, get over it😳👀😭 #joshuabassett #christiantiktok #christian #God #Jesus #oliviarodrigotea #drama #twitter #exposed
♬ Topher Yall Already Know Who I Am My Names Topher – CasaDi
After discourse about Bethel Church’s politics began trending across the internet this morning when news of Bassett’s baptism broke, Bassett spoke out about his choice of church. He claimed that he was unaware of the church’s controversial history.
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!
— Joshua Bassett (@joshuatbassett) February 13, 2023
This in turn led commenters to question why Bassett didn’t research the church he chose for such an important statement of faith.
Drive by baptism? Lol. If you truly believe in the purpose of being baptized why would you not research the people doing it…
— Eve 6000 🦋 (@alsoabouteve) February 13, 2023
Nahh wait… You didn’t research the church before getting baptized by them? pic.twitter.com/fpalYMRdUQ
— this that jelly n****a (@taintedkitkat) February 13, 2023
Bassett’s religious journey is ongoing, and it remains unclear if he still intends to regularly attend services at Bethel following today’s revelations.