Miley Cyrus has said that she left the church she was raised in after her gay high school friends were sent to conversion therapy.
Cyrus was discussing religion and Christianity with model Hailey Bieber on Cyrus’ Bright Minded Instagram Live show.
The pansexual singer and actress said she had a “hard time” figuring out her relationship with religion after leaving the Tennessee church she grew up in, Yahoo! News reports.
Specifically, she noted that her friends were “being sent to conversion therapies.”
“I was also brought up in the church in Tennessee at a time in the ’90s, so it was a less accepting time with all that,” she told Bieber. “I had some gay friends in school. That is the reason why I left my church is that they weren’t being accepted. They were being sent to conversion therapies. And I had a really hard time with that and I had a hard time with me finding my sexuality too.”
She added: “So I think now you telling me that I’m allowed to redesign my relationship with God as an adult and make it how it feels most accepting to me would make me feel so less turned off by spirituality.”
Bieber told Cyrus that her relationship with religion had shifted as she aged, but she and her husband Justin Bieber had found a church that “worked.”
That church is part of the Hillsong Church denomination, which was founded by anti-gay Australian pastor Brian Houston.
Houston released a statement in 2015 saying that he “holds to traditional Christian thought on gay lifestyles and gay marriage,” and “‘God’s word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
He added: “Hillsong Church welcomes ALL people but does not affirm all lifestyles. Put clearly, we do not affirm a gay lifestyle and because of this we do not knowingly have actively gay people in positions of leadership, either paid or unpaid.”
The Daily Beast also reported in 2016 that Hillsong referred LGBTQ congregants to conversion therapy, and that coming out to a pastor “landed a church member in just such an ‘ex-gay’ program.” However, it has reportedly since disavowed the practice.
Hillsong markets itself as contemporary, despite its evangelical underpinnings, and has found a following in young Hollywood with its focus on music and urban locations.
Last year, lesbian actress Ellen Page slammed actor Chris Pratt for attending Zoe Church in Los Angeles, which was modeled after Hillsong.
Page branded it “infamously anti-LGBTQ” and said, “If you are a famous actor and you belong to an organization that hates a certain group of people, don’t be surprised if someone simply wonders why it’s not addressed.”
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