Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion

First Advisor

Antony Alumkal, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nancy Wadsworth

Third Advisor

Sandra Dixon


Abortion, Culture wars, Evangelical, Gay marriage, Religious right, Same-sex marriage


With the rise of the New Religious Right in American politics, same-sex marriage and abortion emerged as the seminal political issues in a burgeoning culture wars narrative. While previous literature in the sociology of religion and political science fields has examined conservative evangelical political mobilization around these issues, this literature has not adequately considered the primacy of theology in determining these critical political commitments of the evangelical right. This dissertation utilizes aspects of James Wellman's concept of moral worldview, Ann Swidler's ideas on the cultural toolkit, and Christian Smith's subcultural identity theory to explore the formation of conservative evangelical social identity. In contrast to other works, however, this project asserts that theological orthodoxy directly dictates the most salient issues of political mobilization for members of the evangelical right. Key evangelical theological themes distill into three ideological frames that govern the conservative evangelical moral worldview and their political issue priorities. These ideological frames of moral purity/innocence, personal responsibility, and obedience to authority filter and limit the range of cultural tools available to conservative evangelicals in their experience of the world. Using content analysis to show how evangelical right leaders utilize these frames in their rhetoric, this project demonstrates how same-sex marriage and abortion emerge as the pivotal issues in the conservative evangelical mind. It argues that conservative evangelicals do not sort their sense of tribal identity into two categories of us and them, but rather three discrete categories of us, them, and potentially us, bringing the redemptive aspect of evangelical theology into their classification, reclassification and engagement with "the Other." Combining the use of ideological frames with factors of threat and taboo, this dissertation demonstrates how evangelical theology directly produces moral claims and explicates how same-sex marriage and abortion have become a new political orthodoxy in an increasingly polarized American political landscape.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Jeffrey B. Satterwhite


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

165 p.


Religion, Political Science, Sociology