Benjamin Hollenbach

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9539

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Hollenbach, Benjamin T., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on ''All Are Welcome:' Inclusion and Mainline Protestantism in the United States,' supervised by Dr. Gayle Rubin

This project focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) inclusion and participation in mainline Protestant groups in the United States. Mainline Protestants are a group of Christian denominations (including Episcopalians and Presbyterians) who have earned a reputation for being politically and theologically progressive in comparison to American Evangelicals. I explore how mainline Protestants negotiate issues of sexual orientation and gender identity through their faith, and then embody their faith in practice, keeping in mind the frequent ruptures between belief and action in religious settings. I ask the following questions: how do mainline Protestants manifest inclusion in terms of practice, rather than just rhetorically (through talk or debate) or through LGBTQ-friendly policies (official courses of action churches can adopt)? What motivates mainliners to be inclusive at the local level, despite potentially losing members or having the church schism or fully disband? How do specific approaches to inclusion shape expectations by mainline Protestants about what it means to be an LGBTQ Christian? By comparing three mainline churches in the state of Michigan which belong to different denominations and approach inclusion in various ways, I will explore how non-LGBTQ Christians approach topics that can disrupt the cohesion of their groups and how queer Christians negotiate their own beliefs (given the requirements and qualifications which may be signaled in their acceptance). I intend this project to pursue wider questions of people want religious institutions to do for them, as well as how people separate religious practices from actions they undertake in their everyday lives.