Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

A House of Prayer for All People

Contesting Citizenship in a Queer Church

2017
Author:

David K. Seitz

A House of Prayer for All People

Revealing the underappreciated progressive contributions of a liberal LGBT church

David K. Seitz maps the affective dimensions of the politics of citizenship at one large LGBT church, focusing on debates on race and gender in religious leadership, activism around police–minority relations, outreach to LGBT Christians transnationally, and advocacy for asylum seekers. Through cultural geography, queer of color critique, psychoanalysis, and affect theory, he stages reparative encounters with citizenship and religion.

A House of Prayer for All People complicates the common narrative about the seemingly natural and insurmountable divide between LGBT people and religion. Through an examination of the Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto and its Pastor, The Rev, Brent Hawkes, Seitz elegantly engages with questions of sexual orientation, race, gender, religion as they are intertwined with social justice activism and the nature of citizenship. Drawing his narrative across local, national and transnational sites, Seitz build a nuanced and complex conceptual framing in order to ‘repair’ religion and religious spaces for queer people. In doing so he strives to open a space for more capacious (yet precarious) possibilities beyond contemporary identity politics.

Catherine J. Nash, Brock University*

Perhaps an unlikely subject for an ethnographic case study, the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto in Canada is a large predominantly LGBT church with a robust, and at times fraught, history of advocacy. While the church is often riddled with fault lines and contradictions, its queer and faith-based emphasis on shared vulnerability leads it to engage in radical solidarity with asylum-seekers, pointing to the work of affect in radical, coalition politics.

A House of Prayer for All People maps the affective dimensions of the politics of citizenship at this church. For nearly three years, David K. Seitz regularly attended services at MCCT. He paid special attention to how community and citizenship are formed in a primarily queer Christian organization, focusing on four contemporary struggles: debates on race and gender in religious leadership, activism around police–minority relations, outreach to LGBT Christians transnationally, and advocacy for asylum seekers. Engaging in debates in cultural geography, queer of color critique, psychoanalysis, and affect theory, A House of Prayer for All People stages innovative, reparative encounters with citizenship and religion.

Building on queer theory’s rich history of “subjectless” critique, Seitz calls for an “improper” queer citizenship—one that refuses liberal identity politics or national territory as the ethical horizon for sympathy, solidarity, rights, redistribution, or intimacy. Improper queer citizenship, he suggests, depends not only on “good politics” but also on people’s capacity for empathy, integration, and repair.

A House of Prayer for All People

David K. Seitz is assistant professor of cultural geography at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California.

A House of Prayer for All People

A House of Prayer for All People complicates the common narrative about the seemingly natural and insurmountable divide between LGBT people and religion. Through an examination of the Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto and its Pastor, The Rev, Brent Hawkes, Seitz elegantly engages with questions of sexual orientation, race, gender, religion as they are intertwined with social justice activism and the nature of citizenship. Drawing his narrative across local, national and transnational sites, Seitz build a nuanced and complex conceptual framing in order to ‘repair’ religion and religious spaces for queer people. In doing so he strives to open a space for more capacious (yet precarious) possibilities beyond contemporary identity politics.

Catherine J. Nash, Brock University*

David Seitz’s rendition of the politics of refuge within faith community in Toronto is challenging, insightful, empirically rich, and conceptually bold. Seitz offers ‘improper queer citizenship’ as a messy, unfinished political project. His analysis is essential reading that grows more pressing with each passing day.

Alison Mountz, author of Seeking Asylum

First-rate work . . . for far too long, the shadow of a puritanical, misunderstood, and ultimately false form of Christianity has overshadowed our scholarship in gender and sexuality studies. This book provides a helpful and eloquent correction.

Reading Religion

Seitz weaves together issues of citizenship, religion, queer identity and politics in an empirically rich, nuanced and complex study that will be of interest to queer scholars, migration scholars and those who refuse the notion that religion and sexuality must always be diametrically opposed.

Emotion, Space and Society

This book provides a solid description of activists who know the importance of recognizing and critiquing institutional and structural problems.

Mobilization

A House of Prayer for All People

Contents
Introduction. Repairing Bad Objects: Improper Citizenship in Queer Church
1. Too Diverse? Race, Gender, and Affect in Church
2. Pastor–Diva–Citizen: Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes, Homonormative Melancholia, and the Limits of Celebrity
3. “Why Are You Doing This?” Desiring Queer Global Citizenship
4. From Identity to Precarity: Asylum, State Violence, and Alternative Horizons for Improper Citizenship
Conclusion: Loving an Unfinished World
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

A House of Prayer for All People

UMP blog post: On constitutive contradictions, LGBT citizenship, and the church

What first brought me to the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCCT) was a 2010 story in the Toronto Star about the church’s refugee program. I was fascinated by the ways in which the story positioned members of this predominantly LGBT Protestant congregation as “model citizens,” but model citizens who were extending hospitality and care to and breaking bread with refugee claimants, whose motivations, identities, and claims were subject to remarkably high scrutiny, particularly but not only under the previous Canadian federal government.