First Advisor

Larry R. Martinez

Date of Award

Spring 6-12-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Social Work and University Honors


Social Work




Christian, Spirituality, Homophobia, Church Policy




Welcoming but not affirming Evangelical, Pentecostal, and non-denominational churches invite LGBTQ+ people to attend their church, but do not affirm their identity as a gender and/or sexual minority. Because of this, they restrict LGBTQ+ attendees from participating in leadership, paid staff positions, and ministry work. LGBTQ+ attendees are often not aware of these restrictive policies initially. The current study aims to examine how LGBTQ+ people navigate their faith and identity within welcoming but not affirming church spaces through narrative analysis. Fifteen participants engaged in an interview, where they were asked about their experience within welcoming but not affirming church spaces. Participants discussed the need for clarity and communication from welcoming but not affirming churches regarding their beliefs and policies regarding gender and sexual minorities. They shared stories of losing leadership positions and losing community. Various mental health concerns, a need to mask one's true identity, and a feeling of ostracization are discussed. Another point of discussion is areas of resilience--how LGBTQ+ people have survived and thrived spiritually after their experience within a non-affirming congregation. Going forward, interviewees described a need for LGBTQ+ representation within church spaces. The study closes with a brief discussion of the aforementioned identified themes, along with limitations of the study and suggestions for future research.


© 2022 Sarah Rasmussen

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