Kristin Chenoweth talks faith and gay rights: 'I don't think being gay is a sin'
Kristin Chenoweth wants to make it clear that she is both a woman of faith and one who supports gay rights.
"I read my Bible and I pray and all of that -- I really do. But at the same time, I don't think being gay is a sin. Period," the actress said in an interview with The Advocate to promote her upcoming album "Some Lessons Learned," which becomes available on September 13.
Chenoweth was raised as a Southern Baptist in Oklahoma. However, in a 2005 interview with the New York Times she is described as a "nondenominational Christian." In the profile she said, "I feel my purpose is to be a Christian actress, to show people that there are nonjudgmental, liberal Christians."
The actress is likely best known for originating the role of Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway musical "Wicked." She also appeared on "Pushing Daisies, which ran between 2007 and 2009 and had a recurring guest role as April Rhodes on "Glee."
In the interview with The Advocate, Chenoweth reveals that her family thinks the same way and reveals that it was her grandmother that explained how she practiced her faith. "My Grandma Chenoweth told me something when I was growing up. My [gay] best friend -- I've talked about him many times, his name's Denny. I asked my Grandma Chenoweth, 'How can it be that he's going to hell? I just don't think that correct.' And she said, -Well, Kris, I read the Bible like I eat fish: I take the meat, and it serves me well, but I don't choke on the bone.'"
When confronted about her gay rights stance with people who believe that it contradicts her faith, the actress tells them, "'I don't judge you for your opinions, so please don't judge me for mine.' I'm not out to tell people they're wrong. I'm just here to say what I believe."
Her gay rights stance became an issue in 2005 when she was scheduled to become a singing spokeswoman for a Women of Faith concert in Oklahoma. When the promoters learned of her stance they demanded her resignation. Chenoweth refused and was later fired.
In 2010, Chenoweth stood up for her "Promises, Promises" co-star Sean Hayes, who is openly gay, when a Newsweek reporter wrote an article questioning whether an openly gay actor could be believable when trying to play a straight character. The writer criticized Hayes performance in the play, in which he plays a straight man, calling his acting "wooden" and "insincere." Chenoweth said the article "horrendously homophobic."
"Audiences aren't giving a darn about who a person is sleeping with or his personal life. Give me a break! We're actors first, whether we're playing prostitutes, baseball players, or the Lion King," she added in her defense of Hayes. "Audiences come to theater to go on a journey. It's a character and it's called acting, and I'd put Hayes and his brilliance up there with some of the greatest actors period."
Chenoweth also tells the Advocate that when people cite Christian beliefs when passing discriminating laws she would ask them, "What would Jesus do?"
"It sounds so cliche and Pollyanna-ish, but I have a feeling if he were on the earth today, he wouldn't be walking around saying, 'You're going to hell' and 'You're wrong, you're wrong, you're wrong,'" she added. "I think he'd be accepting and loving."
Chenoweth stars in the ABC drama "Good Christian Belles," which premieres as a midseason replacement in 2012.
The story is about a divorced mother and former high school "mean girl," played by Leslie Bibb of "Iron Man" and "Popular" fame, who moves back to her old neighborhood in Dallas. Her old friends, led by Chenoweth's character, a housewife, appear to be hell-bent on ruining her reputation. The show is based on the book "Good Christian Bitches" by Kim Gatlin.