“Christianity and the Limits of Minority Acceptance in America: God Loves (Almost) Everyone” by J.E. Sumerrau and Ryan T. Cragun— Christian Tolerance and Minority Rights


Sumerrau, J.E. and Ryan T. Cragun. “Christianity and the Limits of Minority Acceptance in America: God Loves (Almost) Everyone”, Rowman and Littlefield. 2018.

Christian Tolerance and Minority Rights

Amos Lassen

 “Christianity and the Limits of Minority Acceptance in America: God Loves (Almost) Everyone” looks at the ways Christian women in college make sense of bisexual, transgender, polyamorous, and atheist others. explores the ways they express tolerance for some sexual groups, such as lesbian and gay people, while maintaining condemnation of other sexual, gendered, or religious groups. In so doing, this book highlights the limits of Christian tolerance for the advancement of minority rights. 

Writers Sumerau and Cragun chose to study how religious people make sense of the increasing visibility of transgender, intersex, bi+, poly, and non-religiously unaffiliated individuals in their midst and it fills a void in the understanding of how traditional, established gender and religious norms shape civic life in the United States. The dominant narrative in the sociology of religion claims and lauds the limited acceptance of gay and lesbian people within Christendom, the authors show that beneath this “veneer of progress”, there is unchallenged disdain for those outside mono-, hetero- and “cisnormativities.” Through the use of ethnographic interviews, the contours of this intolerance come to light and describe how it is constructed and maintained.

For many years, sociologists of religion and sexuality faced problems asking what American Christians thought about homosexuality. As Sumerau and Cragun show us here, it’s time to ask new questions and they go into topics that are usually not included by fellow sociologists of religion. They explore the far reaches of American Christian assumptions that privilege monogamy, monosexuality, and cisgender reality and that leave out bisexual, nonbinary, and nonreligious people. This book is a necessity for the understanding of the complete landscape of religion and sexuality in America today.

Sumerau and Cragun have found has much to say about the ideological assumptions that still inform much social research on attitudes—that male and female are two mutually exclusive categories, that sexual orientation must reflect this dichotomy, that religion is the sole source of morality, and that being cisgender in lifelong monogamy is necessary to demonstrate it. They show that the stereotypes that used to trouble gays and lesbians (being immature, sick, and/or untrustworthy) have not gone away but have been displaced onto less conforming categories of people: bisexuals, trans people, polyamorous people, and atheists.

Table of Contents

Introduction: What God has joined together: Gender, Sexual, and Religious Intersections in America

  1. It Is God Who Works In You: Religious, Gendered, and Sexual Attitudes

  2. Male and Female He Created Them: Christianity as Cisnormativity
3. And They Become One Flesh: Christianity as Mononormativity

  4. The Fool Says In His Heart: Christianity as Religio-Normativity
Conclusion: So Are My Ways Higher Than Your Ways: Normativity and Emerging Movements in America

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