Journal Article

How Denominational Resources Influence Debate about Homosexuality in Mainline Protestant Congregations*

Wendy Cadge, Laura R. Olson and Christopher Wildeman

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 69, issue 2, pages 187-207
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2008 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/69.2.187
How Denominational Resources Influence Debate about Homosexuality in Mainline Protestant Congregations*

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A growing body of research examines national conflicts over homosexuality in mainline Protestant denominations, but few studies have explored the concrete ways individual congregations are responding. We focus on thirty mainline Protestant congregations (in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church [U.S.A.], and the United Methodist Church) in the northeastern United States that have formally considered the issue of homosexuality recently. Based on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with these congregations' clergy, we assess how homosexuality became a public issue in each church and how each denomination influenced the process by which congregations responded. Building on previous research on the relationship between congregations and denominations, we find that denominational resources about homosexuality, primarily in the form of structured educational materials, narrow the range of social processes congregations adopt in response. The more educational resources and structured guidance denominations provided, the narrower the range of processes congregations took in response.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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