Presentation Title

Everyone Belongs Here: How Affirming and Non-Affirming Church Messages and Imagery Cause Different Feelings of Acceptance in LGBTQ+ Christians

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

Church, Acceptance, LGBTQ+, Christian, Messages, Imagery

Department

Psychology

Major

Psychology, Religion

Abstract

In the United States, many churches have taken a position to fully affirm and welcome queer Christians into all aspects of congregational life, while others have maintained a welcoming yet non-affirming stance. Our experiment is the first to investigate the causal link between church messages and imagery on the expectation that queer Christians would feel accepted in a church. We designed two church websites to represent the views that affirming and non-affirming churches have towards LGBTQ+ Christians. We hypothesized that if LGBTQ+ Christians were shown affirming church messages, then their sense that they would feel accepted by the church will increase, relative to a comparison group of Straight Christians. On the other hand, if LGBTQ+ Christians were shown non-affirming church messages, then their sense that they would feel accepted by the church will decrease, relative to a comparison group of Straight Christians. Our sample included 200 LGBTQ+ and Straight Christian MTurk workers from the United States. In the end, our hypotheses were supported because when LGBTQ+ Christians were shown non-affirming church messages, their sense that they would feel accepted by the church decreased significantly, and when LGBTQ+ Christians were shown affirming church messages, their sense that they would feel accepted by the church increased significantly. Straight Christians also saw increases in their feeling of acceptance when shown the affirming church messages. While this increase only approached significance, it demonstrates that affirming church messages for the LGBTQ+ community make everyone feel more accepted and included in the church.

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Steven V. Rouse

Funding Source or Research Program

Academic Year Undergraduate Research Initiative

Presentation Session

Session B

Start Date

23-4-2021 4:00 PM

End Date

23-4-2021 4:15 PM

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Apr 23rd, 4:00 PM Apr 23rd, 4:15 PM

Everyone Belongs Here: How Affirming and Non-Affirming Church Messages and Imagery Cause Different Feelings of Acceptance in LGBTQ+ Christians

In the United States, many churches have taken a position to fully affirm and welcome queer Christians into all aspects of congregational life, while others have maintained a welcoming yet non-affirming stance. Our experiment is the first to investigate the causal link between church messages and imagery on the expectation that queer Christians would feel accepted in a church. We designed two church websites to represent the views that affirming and non-affirming churches have towards LGBTQ+ Christians. We hypothesized that if LGBTQ+ Christians were shown affirming church messages, then their sense that they would feel accepted by the church will increase, relative to a comparison group of Straight Christians. On the other hand, if LGBTQ+ Christians were shown non-affirming church messages, then their sense that they would feel accepted by the church will decrease, relative to a comparison group of Straight Christians. Our sample included 200 LGBTQ+ and Straight Christian MTurk workers from the United States. In the end, our hypotheses were supported because when LGBTQ+ Christians were shown non-affirming church messages, their sense that they would feel accepted by the church decreased significantly, and when LGBTQ+ Christians were shown affirming church messages, their sense that they would feel accepted by the church increased significantly. Straight Christians also saw increases in their feeling of acceptance when shown the affirming church messages. While this increase only approached significance, it demonstrates that affirming church messages for the LGBTQ+ community make everyone feel more accepted and included in the church.