God is Grey, a gay-accepting religious community

Online communities

God is Grey, a gay-accepting religious community

My online religious community of choice is the YouTube channel named “God is Grey”, and the community surrounding it. I’ve been following God is Grey, or Brenda Davies, for at least 2 years now. Her video titles include “Jesus is a Feminist” and “Your Bible is wrong about homosexuality”. The special thing about Brenda is that she tackles subjects which are usually contentious in Christian communities with love and care, subjects like masturbation, purity culture, feminism, and homosexuality. 

Online religion isn’t just transforming religion, it is a shift towards “networked” religion. Characteristics of this include multisite reality, by which we mean the intersection of online and offline religion. In the case of Brenda this only applies in limited areas. From what I could find, Brenda is mostly involved in religion in the online sphere. She does not host communal rituals like online bible studies or online church. However, much like a priest would interpret the Bible and inform their followers of its contents, Brenda also interprets the Bible in her own way, and shares this with her following. 

Another characteristic of online religion is that it involves “networked communities”. Interestingly, Brenda has formed many public online friendships with atheists and ex-religious influencers. This is also how I found Brenda, through an ex-religious influencer who often critiques Christian influencers. Brenda’s interpretation of the Bible and the Christian God as a loving and accepting God is inclusive, and often outright contradictory to what most ex-religious people were brought up with. For those with religious trauma, Brenda’s interpretation of Christianity offers a way to still live with God but without suffering from condemnation. Condemnation is replaced by inclusivity and kindness. Many, especially non-religious influencers with past religious trauma, show online respect for her and her content. These include Jimmy Snow, previously known as “Mister Atheist”, and fundamental Christianity critic Jen from the channel “Fundie Fridays”. 

The next characteristic is “storied identity”, which refers to personal narratives of faith, or personal forms of religious identity. Brenda has shared her personal journey that brought her to her interpretations of the bible and of God. She explains in one of her older videos that she did the thing that Christians are supposed to do. She waited to have sex until marriage, got divorced, and ended up in an abusive relationship. As she says, “the older I got the more I learned about sexuality, relationships, science, history, politics, the bible, the more I saw grey areas. I believe that to earnestly seek God is to honestly and fearlessly look at the grey.” I can see that in her content, where she honestly and fearlessly talks about contentious subjects such as sex before mariage and purity culture. There is no shame involved in her rhetoric, just an honest conversation that is not fearful of those grey areas that are usually so contentious in christian communities. 

Finally, the fourth characteristic of online religion is a “shift in authority”. Although it may seem like Brenda claims authority over religion by interpreting the Bible in her own way, she often states that is not what she wants to be seen as. She explains in a video “I am not a pastor or a theologian, I am just the girl stirring this conversation. You are all welcome to participate, no matter what your perspective”. Although her critics may claim she takes on the role of an authority, she herself does not see it that way. It is interesting to note that in some way Brenda is seen as an authority figure, even if she is not a pastor or an official within the church: her online followers do treat her as an authority figure  The figure underneath shows the impact of Brenda and her YouTube channel on those who watch her. Brenda’s comment section is often filled with comparable comments, indicating how much impact her religious views have on her audience despite distancing herself from Christian authoritative titles. 

A comment underneath the video "How to connect to God"



Davies, B. (2018, September 4). God is not grey! | God is Grey. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCHgjs-84CE