Religious trauma amongst queer people in Australia’s evangelical churches

With Joel Hollier as lead author, our recent study of the trauma of coming out queer in evangelicalsm – its open source so follow the links.

Abstract: Christian communities teaching traditional theology and ethics, which treat diverse sexualities and gender expansive identities as sinful, can be places where faithful LGBTQIA + people are subject to spiritual abuse. This paper explores the complex dynamics and multilayered mechanisms of this abuse in Australian Evangelical Christianity. It is based on a qualitative research project using 24 semi-structured interviews with LGBTQIA + people who have spent two or more years in Evangelical church settings. The project found that participants were subject to mischaracterization and viewed as a moral threat, and consequently experienced erasure, social distancing, and suffered psychological trauma. The paper uses minority stress and micro-aggression theory to conceptualize these experiences and inform social work practice. It also shows the rich resilience and spiritual growth of participants who navigated trauma and sometimes emerged with a more nuanced and deeper faith. These findings will help queer people coming out in Evangelical churches to understand their experiences, and provide clinicians and others supporting people that have experienced spiritual trauma with conceptual tools and practical examples to aid in therapy and informal recovery settings.

Your article is available online here or as a PDF here

Co-authors, Shane, Joel Hollier, Jen Smith Merry
About Author

Shane is an ethicist and theologian, Honorary Associate for the Centre of Disability Research and Policy, the University of Sydney, and Assistant Director, Policy, at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation against People with Disability. Shane is proudly disabled, and an occasional blogger on

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