First Baptist Dallas is a nationally prominent and politically conservative evangelical congregation in downtown Dallas, TX. This dissertation addresses questions such as: how are conservative evangelical women creating and enacting their religious identity? Who or what is influential in the performance of religious and political identity narratives? A theory of religious performativity argues that religious identity is materialized into intelligibility by a discursive interplay of agents and power and takes the emphasized role of God for a woman of faith seriously.
The dissertation structure attends to expanding relationships of influence in a woman’s life, beginning with God and moving outward to her husband, pastor, church, community, schools, and national politics. Extensive participant observation and interviews feature the voices, viewpoints, and experiences of the women at First Baptist to showcase how women within theological cultures of submission are active agents interweaving their religious and political identities.
A motivation to provide understanding across disparate worldviews for the purpose of depolarization informed the project. The ethnographic approach humanized this population by carefully exposing their unique stories while also exposing a false dichotomy of us/them and challenging all readers to consider the intersections between their own religious/normative identity and American political identity.
R. Marie Griffith
Anthropology, Humanities, Religion
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Purcell, Marie Olson, "Faithful: The Formation of Women's Religious and Political Identities at First Baptist Dallas" (2022). Religious Studies Theses and Dissertations. 34.
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