Why Do Gay Christians Go To Church? Foucault and Religion
This thesis explores the subjective experiences of New Zealand men who identify as gay and Christian. In particular, the study questions why gay men attend churches that have traditionally not welcomed or supported them. A small number of international studies have investigated gay men who have left the Church but there are few studies of those who stay. This research uses the work of Michel Foucault to theorise the contours of gay Christianity. Foucault's work has been little used in the sociology of religion. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with twelve men who identified as gay and Christian. Transcripts were examined using theoretically based thematic analysis, and three resulting themes are explored. The first theme describes religious exclusion of gay men and the value of supportive networks for gay Christians. The second theme theorises the concept of religious belief as both a type of knowledge/power and a practice, as well as exploring connections between religion and power. The third theme focuses on subjectivity, analysing ways in which those interviewed constructed an integrated gay and Christian self. Church attendance by gay men is attributed to three factors summarised as reasons of faith, reasons of fellowship and reasons of identity. These findings contribute to academic literature concerning religion, gay identity and Foucault, and there is scope for further research in these areas. The use of Foucault's work in this way may contribute to theoretical and methodological developments in the sociology of religion.