Same-Sex Marriage, Korean Christians, and the Challenge of Democratic Engagement

Joseph Yi, Joe Phillips, Shin Do Sung

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6 Citations (Scopus)


The contest over gay rights (e.g., same-sex marriage) dramatizes the clash between increasingly nonwhite ("majority-world"), religious conservatives and mostly white, progressives. It renews longstanding debate about the compatibility of religious conservatism and liberal, pluralistic democracy. A study of one influential group, Korean Christians, shows that the younger, western-educated generation generally combines religious conservatism and political liberalism; they are much more likely to espouse liberal-democratic principles and to participate in the larger, plural society than the older, immigrant generation. However, the polarizing politics of gay rights partly reverses the generational pattern: the historically insular, first generation participate more in mainstream politics, while some western-educated, second-generation Korean Christians become intolerant and isolated from elite-educated circles. Ideological minorities self-segregate themselves in the face of hostile, energized majorities, whether progressives in Korean Christian circles or conservatives in secular, educated ones. Public deliberation on same-sex marriage depends on whether it becomes viewed like the clear-cut issue of interracial marriage or the more ambiguous one of abortion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-422
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Aug

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Joseph Yi is assistant professor of political science at Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea. Joe Phillips is associate professor, Department of Global Studies, Pusan National University. This work was supported by a 2-year research grant of Pusan National University. Shin-Do Sung graduated from the Department of Public Administration at HUFS, Seoul.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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