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Bridging the denomination-congregation divide: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregations respond to homosexuality

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Cadge, W., H. Day, and Christopher Wildeman. 2007. "Bridging the denomination-congregation divide: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregations respond to homosexuality." Review of Religious Research, 48(3): 245-259.

A growing body of research examines conflicts over homosexuality in national religious organizations, but little research explores variation in how local congregations are responding to the issue. We focus on twenty-one congregations in the northeastern and southwestern United States that belong to one mainline Protestant denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We ask how local factors and national denominational actions influence how these congregations are addressing homosexuality. Before a recent national denominational study, local situations and factors led congregations to respond to homosexuality in a broad range of ways. Since the flational study, there is much less variation in congregations' responses, illustrating how a denomination can use a national study to frame and shape local considerations of a controversial issue. This article bridges the gap between studies of homosexuality focused on denominations and those focused on congregations to show how denominational actions can shape local considerations. More broadly, this article illustrates the range of ways congregations may respond to controversial issues in their national denominations and one strategy, a national study, which a denomination may adopt to frame and shape such conflicts.

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