"Advent Next" Host Fired Over LGBTQ Episodes

Up until August 3rd, one of the biggest success stories in new Adventist media was the Advent Next podcast. Since 2019, Kendra Arsenault had hosted 89 episodes of the series, billed as “life and faith discussions for the next generation.” The show was a hit. According to Arsenault, it grew to thousands of listeners a month on audio and video platforms. For Seventh-day Adventist Millennial and Gen-Z audiences, the show felt like a promising future featuring diverse voices in real conversation.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11363

God bless you, Kendra Arsenault, for knowing who God created you to be, both in your orientation and your vocation. Your courage to engage the spirituality of real life with real people is what good theology and pastoral ministry is all about. Sadly, you will not find future employment in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But thank God, other faith communities will honor your calling.

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I think the term is “unforced error”. This reveals that it isn’t the “standards” that matter, it is keeping the gossips happy.

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The Church’s innate homophobia is only excelled by its miserable misogyny.

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My principal questions are, “Where is a viable sanctuary for conversation within local Adventist churches? And also down the ladder, within the Adventist organizational structure? Where?”

The ultimate sanctuary is between our ears. Each follower of Jesus ought to be a safe place for God and God’s creation–especially humankind on the margins. May God raise up and empower an intrepid generation of sanctuaries.

Gratitude to Kendra and her audacious work in opening doors and windows and minds.

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(For those that would like to listen to the deleted podcasts, website ListenNotes com still has all the AdventNext podcasts…)

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Did she not just abuse a relationship to sell her ideas. Honest at the start was going to be the best. Wrong visions in relationships end with termination of that, she wanted to twist the church arm by getting a lot of audience and strike when List expected,

Church forgot Jesus warning, the foxes in sheep clothing and she is a good example. Fighting for a cause doesn’t give one a right to abuse audience and Organisation. Stand on your own and fight what you believe in not using cunning methods

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So many levels of wrongdoing was exercised in Arsenault’s termination.

  1. Evangelical Popery- Apparently, the consciences of the ALC were violated in their own eyes and therefore terminated Kendra for expressing hers.
  2. Wheat and Tares- This parrable explains the damages caused by humans taking judgement into their own hands.
  3. Censorship- The interviews with Alicia Johnson and Pastor Turner were irradicated.
  4. Discrimination- A lame excuse was given for her termination as ‘her services were no longer needed’, only after she revealed her inner self identity.
  5. Adventist Theology Seninary- This experience that Kendra had is far more a learning of Adventist Theology than she will ever learn in the classroom.

Conclusion- It is far better to direct offerings and death benefits to organizations that are dedicated to protect and defend freedom of conscience and social justice. Suggestions would be Americans United for Seperation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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Thanks, @AlexAamodt.

I don’t think it’s outrageous, at all, really, that the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD), via its agent, the Adventist Learning Community Department (ALC), fired Kendra Arsenault, and embargoed the three episodes of Advent Next which are under discussion.

Put another way, if Arsenault was the host of a United Nations podcast, and produced three episodes considering terrorism as having a legitimate use in the armory of statecraft, she’d have been similarly canned. (I won’t ponder, here, the U.N. response, had she admitted, at the end, she’d been recruited by Al Qaeda.)

Some, here will, perhaps unthinkingly, react. They’ll say I’m stating homosexuality, and/or LGBTQ theology, is a form of terrorism.

That’s dumb. I’m not. I’m saying that advocating for an open, warm, egalitarian reception of “affirming” theology is as outrageous to the NAD as doing the same re: state terrorism would be to the U.N. (If you want, make the analogy, instead, one about Burger King publicly embracing McDonald’s’ new menu, via a hypothetical Arsenaultian spokesperson.)

Further, I’m saying this is objectively the case: Just look at what the NAD, and the U.N., say they are against in their charter documents. If one doesn’t get this, they are probably going to miss much of this event’s significance.

Is there, however, a way Arsenault could have covered these subjects, without prompting the denomination to go nuts?

I’ve thought about this, and I’m not sure. I first considered that she could have framed the topic as a debate; one where Alicia Johnston lays out her ideas, and the denomination’s most respected theologian on gender, family, and sexuality — if there is such a person — responds.

However, I’m one whose tried to create similar fora, albeit in a different theological area, in order to get SDAs on the record about their ideas in an oppositional setting. I don’t think the church would have ever stood for such a discourse.

By this, I don’t only mean they’d have probably felt put upon, having to defend their doctrine in a media forum for which they were paying.

I also mean SDAs are a group which ostensibly considers every possible contact both homiletical and evangelical. As part of the way they frame this, the denomination doesn’t have conversations they cannot win. (The exception may be legal dialogues, where they are compelled to converse with antagonists.)

This is why even our narratives of, for example, witnessing are, frequently, framed as zero-sum games: The cool, experienced revivalist goes to the home of the woman whose husband is peeved she’s been at the tent meetings. With logic and rhetoric whisper-smooth as Mr. Spock’s, he deflects and unravels the working man’s ill-formed conclusions about God, winning him over to the faith.

For the record, I believe the practice of homosexuality is outside of God’s will for people. I say this based on my understanding of what the Bible says. Having now heard part of Johnston’s theology — she outlines it in Part 1 of her Advent Next appearance — I’m still convinced of this; indeed, I might say, even more so.

However, I’m still open to a biblical argument. Which also means I’m not against LGBTQ people making defenses they, in good faith, deem cohere with scripture.

Whether this changes the church, or not, in the short term, may not be the issue. Whatever happens, we will all learn a lot more about the Bible, and, as I often note, Planck’s Principle is continuously operative:

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. . . . An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out, and that the growing generation is familiarized with the ideas from the beginning: another instance of the fact that the future lies with the youth.

— Max Planck, Scientific autobiography, 1950, p. 33, 97

Finally, yes: As @PavSim noted, if you want to hear the transgressing pieces, these are links which escaped the censor’s reach:

The Bible & LGBTQ Adventists (Alicia Johnston):
https://bit.ly/3lZYCz6

LGBTQ Adventists & The Bible PT. II (Alicia Johnston):
https://bit.ly/3iLdgYO

Pastor Paul Anthony Turner on queer theology:
https://bit.ly/2VPfttU

As well, in this new YouTube Q&A for Adventist Today, @lorenseibold talks to Kendra Arsenault about the Advent Next podcasts, her firing, and LGBTQ issues in Adventism:

HA

I’ve appreciated Kendra’s podcast for years. Her work has been careful and low key and honest. She shared a part of her identity in the final podcast (yes I subscribe so I heard it). It is painful to feel that a community does not have space for authenticity.

The world craves authentic and humble discussions, especially in a Christian context,

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Todd, your last two sentences are almost exactly what someone on the ministerial department once told me. It undoubtedly saved me years. I hope it saves Kendra years too. She has so much ahead of her yet.

The implicit criteria for working with the church (.org) aren’t the same as the implicit or explicit criteria for serving God where or how God calls, but so many of us get taught to conflate these things and then have to scramble to adapt when the evidence rolls in.

Now for the paragraph statement that Spectrum got back is all about: it’s a bob and a feint that clearly went through legal review but it’s missing a ton of humanity and does not address any of the questions raised here.

This is not the first time something like this has happened. It won’t be the last time either because the .org hasn’t resolved the contradictions that has it yearning to reach people it then repels.

This isn’t even primarily about age or audience: it’s not a generational matter that will change as Millennials become the administrators firing contractors. It’s about what resourcing people coming to maturity in this era need to be light and salt, and what nourishment we need as we live, work, and serve, in church contexts and beyond.

The .org doesn’t have the range to meet that and truly why would it? It never expected we would still be here and it doesn’t know what to do with the people who are.

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Here, at this juncture is where she was beginning to acknowledge her need for help, but she did not go on to say where or what she would try to do to seek assistance with this issue she exposed. As a church sponsored program it appears that they had very few options but to end the sponsored program since it gives the appearance of accepting the issue, as if it must continue this way. So very sad.

Yep!
Serves her right for thinking Adventism had a conscience and could or would somehow want to change their institutional behavior.:rofl:
(Should have probably started this one with a sarcasm alert!!!)

Based on various people’s understanding of what the Bible says, the following have been considered to be “god’s will” and/or “Christian”:

Slavery
War
Genocide
Child abuse
Misogyny
Dictatorships, and of course
Homophobia

Of course, Jesus had no direct hand in writing one word of the book, so with which, if any, of its ambiguous dictums and unloving mandates he agrees are questions which will remain open until such time as he and his dad decide it’s time for him to make his long delayed encore appearance here on earth.:rofl:

BWTM!!!

That’s right!!!

Those who know god as an ever-present force in the cosmos and in their lives do not have to wait another second to know which of the above our creator considers good or bad….:thinking::wink::rofl:

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Here you seem to equate homosexuality with terrorism. Pardon me if I’m misunderstanding. But I find that possible comparison extremely inappropriate and wrong.

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With all respect, Harry tried to make clear that’s not what he was saying.

That said, his biblically justifiable and logically supported judgments of his fellow men are dumb to the point of being numb and insensitive, in addition to being as fundamentally wrong as he claims homosexuality is.

Such rationalizing is reasonably untenable given that these beliefs are merely biblical—as opposed to being empirically demonstrable—as well as essentially anti-Christian in their judgmental nature.

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I think it’s worth noticing, both Ms. Arsenault and Mr. Fenner seem to suggest this decision was made at a higher level than ALC itself. Her saying he seemed reluctant to fire her and had tried to save the show, him referencing that ALC is run by an NAD Executive Committee.

I also think it seems clear that some blame lies with Ms. Arsenault in this situation. By her own account, ALC hired her & invested in building her a studio, to give her a place to discuss progressive issues in the Adventist church. And whether you think the line is placed appropriately or not; by saying she thought the episodes would get pulled down and she would get a talking to, she is admitting that she knew she was crossing a line by publishing these episodes. It’s unfortunate she underestimated the consequences… but she knew what she was doing. As a result of her knowingly pushing too far, not only is the already created space to discuss these issues shut down, but it seems unlikely there will be another one created by the NAD for quite some time.

Finally, a bit of a tangent but… does it bother anyone else that tithe money apparently went to building an entire video studio for a series that, looking at youtube right now, has averaged around 500 views per video for the last year? I know it’s also a podcast, and let’s assume that gets a lot of listens… but you can do podcasts for the cost of one zoom and a mic. The cost of video cameras, lights, a contractor building a studio, the square footage being used, and a video editor; for an extra 500 views? I’m sure that’s not the worst stewardship in the church, but seems pretty questionable.

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Ms. Arenault did not treat the organization that hired her with respect in that she did not have the courtesy to inform them of her sexual orientation before disclosing that to the world. Also, based on the interview she had with Adventist Today, and the fact that she embraces the viewpoints of Alicia Johnson, she appears to condone the practice of homosexuality. Therefore, I am not sure why she would not have expected to be fired from.hosting the podcast sponsored by an organization that does not sanction the practice of homosexuality.

The challenge that Christians face in the world today is how to love sinners while despising sin.

"To hate and reprove sin, and at the same time to show pity and tenderness for the sinner, is a difficult attainment. The more earnest our own efforts to attain to holiness of heart and life, the more acute will be our perception of sin and the more decided our disapproval of any deviation from the right. We must guard against undue severity toward the wrongdoer, but we must also be careful not to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. There is need of showing Christlike patience and love for the erring one, but there is also danger of showing so great toleration for his error that he will look upon himself as undeserving of reproof, and will reject it as uncalled for and unjust.

Ministers of the gospel sometimes do great harm by allowing their forbearance toward the erring to degenerate into toleration of sins and even participation in them. Thus they are led to excuse and palliate that which God condemns, and after a time they become so blinded as to commend the very ones whom God commands them to reprove. He who has blunted his spiritual perceptions by sinful leniency toward those whom God condemns, will ere long commit a greater sin by severity and harshness toward those whom God approves." Acts of the Apostles, pp. 503-504.

I will certainly keep Ms. Arenault in.my prayers.

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Did the SDA organization treat its membership and the public with respect when it passed EGW’s “gift” off as supernatural in origin, particularly when knowing that there are more “earthly” explanations and that huge swathes of it were not really hers?

Did the church hierarchy act in good faith in disfellowshipping Dr. Kellog for a book he’d written that EGW had never read?

Is it respectful to the attendees of Stop Smoking Programs or Daniel and The Revelations Seminars to not clearly advertise that these are SDA membership drives?

Is it respectful to thier eternal souls to scare little children with unsubtle threats of hellfire if they don’t want to go out “Ingathering” funds “for those less fortunate”?

Is it respectful to use “the overflow” of those funds to help in paying to repave the church parking lot?

Is it respectful to the denomination’s preachers to curtail their vacations if their church’s don’t meet their Ingathering goals?

It it respectful to insist that teachers in Adventist schools present unscientific nonsense to their students as if it were divinely sanctioned fact?

Is it respectful to the tithe-paying church members to let them pay the mortgages while the GC holds the titles to the church buildings?

So was it respectful of Ms. Arenault to omit details of her personal life on her resume?

Would it have been respectful to fail to mention on your Nazi Party Registration Form that you didn’t hate Jews?

In the latter two cases, of course so.

But in those latter two cases, I firmly applaud such duplicity and find it find amusingly serendipitous!:rofl::rofl::rofl:

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A homosexual is a homosexual, it is not practiced, it is who one is. But as usual…

Thanks, @plobdell3.

And before I reply to your statement, let me first say I appreciate the straightforward tone of your response. It’s specific and orderly, lacking the vitriol that frequently passes for rapport on Spectrum. (I include much of my own writing, here.) I respect your oversight.

I thought I’d fully anticipated such a concern—because I’ve been accused of the same, before—when I said:

I also added:

Stated another way, I’m not comparing homosexuality and terrorism. (I don’t even know how, generically, one would do so, or how they would make the case.)

I’m comparing the SDA Church to the U.N. This seems feasible. They are both humanitarian, international, hierarchical member organizations, headquartered in the United States, attenuated by rules with are voted upon in session, and which, thereby, govern them.

I’m talking about how these organizations, respectively, view these subjects. It was in this sense I made the statement, and analogy, about Arsenault.

HA

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