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Estefania Ponti

Developing Leaders Through Graduate Education

The Graduate School & University Center of The City University of New York

Major:

Anthropology

Mentor:

Jacqueline Nassy Brown, Ph.D.

Case Study: Gender and Sexuality in the African American Church

This study examines if New Jersey’s Christian Church, Cathedral International, evokes a discourse on sexuality that coincides with what scholars have identified as the African American church’s discourse on sexuality. African American scholars have identified the African American church as having a sexuality discourse that is homophobic, heteronormative, and hypermasculine (Douglas, 2003; Douglas, 1999; Douglas & Hopson, 2001; Griffin, 2000; Ward, 2005). Although churches of various ethnic and racial groups share the same stance in regards to their sexuality discourse, the reasons for the African American Church’s sexuality discourse is a result of a uniquely African American experience (Douglas & Hopson, 2001: 100). Some of the factors that have caused a sexuality discourse of homophobia, heteronormativity, and hypermasculinity in the African American church include: a complex system of Black oppression within a White heterosexual racist society (Douglas, 2003: 98), and white sexual exploitation of Black bodies (Douglas & Hopson, 2001: 106). After an interpretive analysis of the two-part sermon Stop the Funeral, it is clear that Cathedral International and its Bishop, Donald Hilliard, follow what scholars define as the sexuality discourse of the African American Church. Consequently, a larger study would be warranted in order to determine the effects such a discourse has on its congregation.