Journal Article

Political Esperanto: Rhetorical Resources and Limitations of The Christian Right in the United States

Ted G. Jelen

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 66, issue 3, pages 303-321
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/4153101
Political Esperanto: Rhetorical Resources and Limitations of The Christian Right in the United States

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This study analyzes a paradox in the rhetorical strategies of the Christian Right in the United States: How can doctrinally conservative political activists justify “legislating morality” in a culture in which individual autonomy is a central value? This essay is based on the assumption that, although there exist competing values and religious frameworks in the United States, the language of liberal individualism is the lingua franca for distinctively public discourse. Such activists attempt to advance a socially conservative agenda in an individualist culture by emphasizing the existence of competing rights, invoking the special status of children, utilizing the language of the natural sciences, and identifying powerful alien forces.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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