Church, State and Sex: How Africa's transnational churches shape human rights
Author(s)Dreier, Sarah Kristin
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AbstractThesis (Ph.D.)--University of Washington, 2019
Why have East African mainline churches adopted select transnational rights agendas while opposing others, and what are the consequences of these politics for women and sexual minorities? This research examines mainlines' responses to three transnational agendas: eradicating gender-based violence, elevating female leaders, and advancing LGBTQ inclusion. It argues that mainlines face multilayered pressures that shape and limit church receptivity to rights agendas. Transnational influences coalesce with domestic religion-state relations to commission religious leaders to govern gender relations and sexual behavior. From here, mainline leaders' positional power, relative to state actors and other religious institutions, intervene to reinforce or disrupt church commitments to transnational rights. Specifically, mainline responses to an issue are shaped by that issue's level of global consensus, the challenges it poses to existing patriarchal institutions, and whether church adversaries can use the issue to undermine mainlines' domestic credibility. This analysis locates mainlines at the center of transnational efforts to diffuse international human-rights norms into grassroots practices. In doing so, it exposes the limited effects that transnational rights agendas have in challenging patriarchal domestic institutions and demonstrates that contemporary transnational religious politics variously advance and threaten to undermine movements to advance rights for East African women and sexual minorities.