Date of Award

December 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Prema A. Kurien


Discourse, Family Values, Micro-mobilization, Organizational Culture, Queer Theory/Methods, Unitarian Universalism

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Despite the longstanding debate about religion’s role in social movements, conservative religious opposition to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) social movement in the United States has limited sociological research in this area to questions of individual identity or the oppositional strategies used by religious and LGTBQ groups to sway public opinion and policy decisions. This dissertation addresses the less well-understood dynamics of mainstream religious group participation in LGBTQ social movement. Through frameworks of social movement theory, organizational culture, and queer theory, it explores the organizational elements shaping congregants’ practices in two Unitarian Universalist (UU) churches considered “Welcoming Congregations”. Analysis of data generated from participant observations, in-depth interviews, and church and denominational texts highlight how structures of church governance, materiality, and history intersected with embedded discourses of gender and sexuality to promote “closeting” and “covering” repertoires of discourse and action on behalf of marriage equality. Findings underscore the value of continued research on the specific ways in which specific elements of organizational culture can shape local group discourses and practices at varying depths, degrees, and dimensions of organizational embeddedness.


Open Access