Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Looby, Eugenie J.

Committee Member

Justice, Cheryl A.

Committee Member

Xu, Jianzhong

Committee Member

Mazahreh, Laith G.

Committee Member

Leach, Nicole

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Counselor Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Education


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations


The changing relationship of Americans to their churches has been documented but has not been explained. This is a narrative qualitative research inquiry for the purpose of exploring the perspectives of members of Southern Baptist churches who experienced disaffection as a result of marginalization within the church as they practiced their religious faith. Using Social Identity Theory (SIT) and the microaggressions literature, this study described negative interactions and explained the group processes that marginalize church members and motivate their disaffection from the church. The narratives of this study extend the literature on negative interactions in the religious community, describing and examining antecedents and consequences. Two semi-structured interviews with ten participants who were once members of Southern Baptist churches informed this study. Four Southern Baptist churches were represented by the ten participants. Data analysis was aided by NVivo 11. In spite of the inclusive mission of the church, the results of this study clearly place microaggressions, with their accompanying marginalization, within the church. Characteristic of microaggressions, this study found that micro aggressions in the church: a) leave the responsibility of reparation with the target; b) deny the existence of microaggressions within their congregation; and c) breed a sense of rejection as a result of marginalization. This study affirms and extends Pargament's (2002) suggestion that short-term distress may lead to long-term spiritual growth. This study also emphasizes the need to address issues of faith as a dimension of diversity.