Called and Queer Exploring the lived experiences of queer clergy in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa
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In South Africa anti-queer attitudes are propped up by religious moral claims and by strong assertions that queer sexualities are un-African and a secular Western import. This study contributes to the growing body of literature which challenge these claims, and at the same time interrupts scholarly trends in the field of religion and sexuality which either characterises institutional religion as singularly oppressive or homogenises queer Christians as inherently subversive. In this thesis, I explored the lived experiences of six queer clergy (one of whom was discontinued) in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA), in order to understand the complex relationship between institutional power and the ordinary lived realities of clergy. The study focuses particularly on the MCSA as it is statistically the largest mainline Protestant denomination in South Africa and holds significant positions of power and influence on national, interdenominational and political platforms, not least of all because it has fostered an institutional identity as the ‘church of Mandela.’ Further, situated within a continental and national context where anti-queer attitudes are politicised through cultural and religious discourses, I have argued that the MCSA also serves as a case study which represents the ways in which institutionalised religion continues to be co-constitutive of social systems and hierarchies.
- Master of Arts