Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type



Public Health

Director of Thesis

Dr. Ed Madden

First Reader

Dr. John Mandsager

Second Reader

Dr. John Mandsager


The Church’s response to LGB people has evolved quickly in the past century. Gay visibility and understandings of sexuality as it is known today only began to emerge in the mid- to-late 20th century. Within that time, responses to constantly evolving science and shifting understanding of LGB people invoked a variety of religious and political responses to the issue of legal protections of gay people. Theological interpretations of the Biblical passages surrounding same-sex relations have evolved as the church’s response to gay people has shifted from ex-gay therapy, to calls for celibacy or affirming gay marriage. The issues surrounding LGB people within the church are varied and complex. Thus, this thesis analyzed comments from LGBTQ+ people in Columbia, SC about their experiences with the Church. Then local Columbia congregations were surveyed and interviewed to gain an understanding of their response to LGB people. This feedback was analyzed to determine what message LGB people want to convey to the church, and how the church has responded in either positive or harmful ways. Using this feedback, we can begin to examine ways the church can provide a safe space for LGB people to navigate their faith.

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© 2022, Alexandra Kauffman