After a lawsuit, LGBTQ Christians can now internet-date equally.

In the book of Isaiah in the Bible, the prophet wrote that his heavenly mission was to "bring good news to the afflicted" and "bind up the broken hearted."

Today, some of that good news goes out to the Christians who identify as LGBTQ, too: Online dating service Christian Mingle is now open to singles in search of same-sex soulmates.

This exciting change was the result of a California lawsuit filed by two gay men against the website's parent company, Spark Networks, back in 2013 that alleged the company was discriminating against them.


While Spark’s websites still aren’t facilitating same-sex relationships, they are now allowing gay and lesbian users to search for users of the same sex who may or may not be single and looking to mingle. Instead of specifying an orientation, users will just be able to search for matches in the gender of their choice.

Photo by Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images.

This inclusive change will apply across all 30+ niche dating websites owned and operated by Spark Networks.

With the exception of JDate, which has been helping nice Jewish boys find other nice Jewish boys since 2005, the change will roll out across Spark services such as Black Singles, Silver Singles, BBW Personals Plus, Military Singles Connection, and Deaf Singles Connection — which are all communities with LGBTQ members, too.

I'm still not sure why LDS Singles and LDS Mingle are separate sites or what makes them different. But I do know that everyone deserves the right to subject themselves to the rigors of online dating. Photo by George Frey/Getty Images.

As you can probably imagine, Christian leaders across the country had a few things to say about this news.

Rev. Marc van Bulck is a Presbyterian minister who currently serves as the lead pastor for a small congregation in Seville, Ohio. He's a heterosexual male who grew up in a church-going family in South Carolina, but he's also been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights for as long as he can remember.

"My church family growing up really was made up of all sorts of people with many different points of view," van Bulck said. "I think I sort of learned by example that being part of a community of faith often means being part of a larger conversation."

Photo provided by Rev. Marc van Bulck, used with permission.

While he couldn’t say for certain if any of his worshippers use Christian Mingle — I guess they don't ask their priest for dating advice? — van Bulck said this news is a big deal for the community.

"Our church is made up of folks from all over the political spectrum, and many of them are very diverse in their beliefs — including topics like this one," he said.

"But the one thing I’ve never seen them do is turn someone away. Because if the Gospel shows us anything, it’s that Jesus was willing to sit at table and break bread with anybody. Queer parishioners have always been here."

Photo by Greg Ness/Flickr.

Rev. Jeff Mello of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brookline, Massachusetts, agreed with van Bulck.

"Those negative views of groups like the Westboro Baptist Church just aren’t the mainstream," he said. "They're loud, fringe voices, and we harm ourselves when we think of that negativity as a default."


Photo provided by Rev. Jeff Mello (center), used with permission.

Mello is openly gay and married. But he has never felt a conflict between his faith life, his emotional life, or his sexuality.

Still, he knows that that’s not the case for all LGBTQ Christians. "So many GLBT folks have been taught that they need to choose between being a Christian and being GLB or T, but it’s not either/or," he said. "It's about living an integrated life, which is what God calls us to do. Both parts of our identity are central to who we are."

And that’s one of the main reasons that he thinks this new shift for Christian Mingle is so important:

"It might seem like a trivial thing that this Christian website is opening up," Mello explained, "but that message is freeing people from that notion of having to choose between who God made you to be and following God. Because those should go hand-in-hand."

Rev. Susan Russell leads a Eucharist and prayer against homophobia and gun violence in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

Christian Mingle’s new inclusive policy isn’t just a blessing for the LGBTQ community. It’s also a victory for straight Christians and the church as a whole.

Mello believes that this small change could actually drive more single Christians to mingle on one of Spark Network’s websites — especially if they’re straight.

"My straight colleagues and worshippers have felt that their relationships are strengthened and made more whole because marriage is made accessible to everyone," he said. "It feels less like a secret club and more of the cultural institution and support net that it's designed to be.”

In his seven years as rector at an inclusive church, Mello has also watched his church community double in size — a gain which he attributes directly to the larger social push for inclusion and equality.

"A lot of folks who aren't LGBTQI are now more drawn to a place where all are welcome," he said.


Austin Ellis of Metropolitan Community Church carries a cross in solidarity with the victims of the Pulse Night Club shooting at the Philadelphia Pride Parade. Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images.

So while Christian Mingle is probably not going to replace Grindr anytime soon, this little piece of progress is still a powerful testament to the winning power of love — in romance and in the eyes of God.

Sure, there will be always be a few detractors. But it's worth celebrating this tremendous changing in the tides, where Christianity and homosexuality are no longer seen as irreconcilable odds in our society.

"Gay and lesbian people should know that no matter how people might treat them, there's a God who loves them, who made them in God's image," Mello said. "The church is a place to remind people of that powerful message."

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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