A company known for publishing books of interest to Christians has generated criticism for agreeing to publish a memoir from Jennifer Knapp—a former contemporary Christian singer who now describes herself as a lesbian.
Jennifer Knapp, now 40, was a popular Christian singer who won Dove Awards and a Grammy Nomination during the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, twelve years ago, Knapp suddenly left the Christian music industry, moved to Australia, and entered into a relationship with another woman. She now describes herself as a lesbian but claims she is still a Christian.
“I am who I am,” Knapp stated in a 2012 interview with TheBlaze. “If God is a God who judges and strikes people of same sex attraction—then he’s going to strike me down. This is the way that I am and now I know what it means to fear God.”
“I’ve never heard an audible voice from the heavens—and you go ahead with as much as you can with your head and your heart,” she asserted. “There’s a point where I just accepted who I am, and that may be right—[or] that may be wrong.”
Knapp recently launched “Inside Out Faith”—an initiative designed to help homosexuals reconcile their behavior with their faith. At Inside Out Faith speaking engagements, Knapp promotes the “inclusion and affirmation” of homosexuals within religious circles and condemns churches which show “rejection and judgment.”
“Through her passionate music and disarming charm, Jennifer speaks of the challenges she has faced in claiming her unique identity,” the Inside Out Faith website explains. “It is the story of an honest, vulnerable and questioning soul, living out a journey of life, love and faith.”
This year, the faith-based publishing arm of Simon & Schuster—Howard Books—will release a book written by Knapp titled Facing the Music: Discovering Real Life, Real Love, and Real Faith.
“This is [Knapp’s] story—of coming to Christ, of building a career, of admitting who she is, and of how her faith remained strong through it all,” the book description states.
“Now an advocate for LGBT issues in the church, Jennifer has witnessed heartbreaking struggles as churches wrestle with issues of homosexuality and faith,” the description adds. “This engrossing, inspiring memoir will help people understand her story and to believe in their own stories, whatever they may be.”
Howard Books publishes works from many well-known Christian authors, including Dave Ramsey, Dr. Charles Stanley, and the Duggar family. A member of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, Howard Books’ goal is “to inspire readers one word at a time” through faith-based publications.
Founded in 1969, the company originally published for the Church of Christ, but soon broadened its base to reach evangelical Christians at large. In 2006, Howard Books was purchased by Simon & Schuster, a secular company that continued to publish books through the label that it believed would interest Christian consumers.
Jennifer Smith, publicity director for Howard Books, told The Washington Post that Knapp’s journey from Christian music fame to homosexual advocacy is a story worth telling.
“We know it’s her story and obviously the position she’s found herself in as a recognizable Christian artist coming out as gay,” Smith said. “She shares about how she has come to terms with herself and her own sexuality and is able to speak on the topic and say, ‘Look, God loves me through this.’”
Smith conceded that “some people … don’t necessarily agree with this book,” but she argued that “there are others who want to have this conversation.”
“This is simply a vehicle for us to encourage Christians to open their hearts and minds to having the discussion openly,” Smith continued. “At the end of the day, this book is an opportunity for Jennifer to tell her story and we want to be part of that conversation.”
Despite the endorsement from Howard Books, many people believe that Christian-themed publishers should not proliferate pro-homosexual material.
“Sin is sin, [and] it’s the agenda that these things are right that is so insidious,” one commenter wrote. “Let’s not condemn ourselves by what we approve. Let’s live by the spirit and make these folks so jealous for the genuine things of God that they turn from their ways and follow Jesus with their whole hearts.”
“Sorry, bookseller, [Knapp] does not speak for God,” another commented. “At no point does Scripture ever promote homosexuality, but in many places it is explicitly condemned and it is implicitly rejected from Genesis to Revelation. You’re playing with fire here.”
As previously reported, a similar situation recently unfolded when Convergent Books published the pro-homosexual book God and the Gay Christian. Following an outcry, Convergent Books parted ways with the National Religious Broadcasters.