Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) in the United States offer a variety of services and influence social dynamics within their communities, specifically in northeast Ohio. Churches, service agencies, and ministries often pursue immigration advocacy initiatives and ground their work in religious doctrine, using frameworks such as ‘hospitality’ and ‘welcoming the stranger’ to motivate their own initiatives and connect with uninvolved or antagonistic populations. Due to current climates of political polarization and dehumanizing rhetoric in immigration dialogues, this study seeks to analyze the ways in which religious actors define and enact community and explore the contributions of the groups in which they serve. I first review current literature regarding religious institutions and their intersections with immigration and social justice work. I then collect data through qualitative research methods, involving nine interviews conducted over the course of two years (October 2020 – February 2022) with leaders, volunteers, and organizers directly involved with FBOs. My study demonstrates a) agency conceptions of community and negotiations with internal tension; b) challenges and strategies in interactions with external audiences; c) primary outreach techniques for FBOs, including education and bodily work; and d) the interconnectedness of structural violence in precipitating and perpetuating social injustice, especially for immigrants in the United States. I conclude with a discussion of community and reflect not on notions of religiosity itself, but of how such beliefs are enacted as agents of change in local frameworks. This study expands upon current scholarship of immigrant and religious networks in northeast Ohio and illuminates the crucial role of FBOs in their justice initiatives.


Fitz-Gibbon, Heather


Sociology and Anthropology


Community-Based Research | Religion | Social Justice | Sociology


Faith-Based Organizations, Ohio, Social Justice, Immigration, hospitality, the 'stranger'

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar


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