Creating the Internal Enemy: Opportunities and Threats in Pro and Anti-LGBT Activism within South Korean Protestantism
Keywords:pro and anti-LGBT activism, South Korean Protestantism, opportunities and threats, contentious politics, movement-countermovement dynamics
In recent years, South Korea has experienced significant mobilization against LGBT rights, mainly emanating from conservative Protestant forces. This anti-LGBT mobilization has been attributed to the need to create an “external enemy” as a means for covering up internal scandals. This study examines how the Protestant anti-LGBT movement creates an “internal enemy”, too, by fighting against pro-LGBT activism and attitudes within its faith. Applying the contentious politics and movement-countermovement frameworks to the study of religious conflict, the article uncovers the mechanisms at work in the complex interactions among anti-LGBT, moderate, and LGBT-affirmative actors. The analysis of five cases – heresy trials against a pro-LGBT pastor, conflicts at Christian universities, vilifications of a progressive Christian online newspaper and a church association, and the controversy around a moderate junior pastor – shows that perceived and deliberately created threats play a productive, opportunity-like role in religious contention over LGBT issues. Longstanding religiopolitical cleavages come to the fore, too, involving conflictual relations with state actors external to Korean Protestantism.