Should I write about religion in college app essays?Answered
I am considering writing an essay about my challenge of the notion you can't be gay and Christian through personal experiences. However, I am concerned that there may be a stigma against my application if I decide to write about said experience.
I don't think it's a bad topic but you need to make sure you don't come off as overly negative. It could be a very inspiring essay or it could be very generic. I think if you dig into specific experiences that you've had with sexuality and religion then it will turn out well. Just don't generalize it towards Christianity as a whole because a lot of Christian sects embrace it. The notion that you can't be gay and Christian is usually perpetuated by more conservative sects and people who aren't Christian and don't know what they're talking about. Just be careful to be specific to your experience and avoid being too broad and I think it will be appreciated.
I'd also consider for a minute what I think the other answer is trying to say, which is that you should make sure this is a part of your identity. If you know that your religion and experience is a major part of who you are, then colleges will want to hear about it. However, if you were raised Christian but you don't consider it a big part of your life, maybe reconsider.
@cp839's answer is good, but to add to it, consider the colleges that you're applying to. All colleges are different and many will have different outlooks on religion in general; for example, sending this essay to Santa Clara University or Boston College (top Jesuit universities) would likely get a different reaction than sending it to a secular university like Cornell. That doesn't mean positive or negative—just different.
In general, if you're going to write an essay with a topic like this, you need to make sure you're leaning into the personal and not the more abstract part of this topic. An essay about how your experiences with religion and sexual orientation have shaped you as a person is great. An essay about Catholicism and sexual orientation *in general* is a bad essay—not because of any stigma, but because it's not enough about you. The danger with these kinds of essays is that they can very easily become an Opinions & Editorials piece about a topic rather than a personal essay about your experiences—they need to be the latter to be successful.
You're overthinking it. College is meant to explore and many people cast off past affiliations and adopt new ones, including religion. Colleges want to know if you can handle the academic work, first and foremost. Secondly, a few care if you can contribute to community. Most don't care and only need/want your tuition.