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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Kelly Young

Second Advisor

Kelly Jakes


This dissertation examines the construction, deployment, and decay of a Christian marginalization narrative by analyzing four distinct rhetorical battles between conservative Christian representatives and LGBTQ+ activists from 1977 to 2016. Specifically, I argue the promotion of American Christian marginalization is a key rhetorical strategy of the Religious Right. Examining the discourse employed by the Religious Right in response to LGBTQ+ activism not only contributes to our understanding of this group’s political power, but also offers an opportunity to expand our understanding of the ways in which marginality operates in the service of dominant groups broadly. Put simply, Christianity has claimed the mantle of a marginalized group whenever its stance on social issues is challenged, yet Christians benefit from their religious beliefs being rhetorically presumptive in America. This dissertation demonstrates that narrative marginality served Christians in their fight against the rights of LGBTQ+ people and has begun to foreshadow the Right’s increasing radicalization as social opinion changes around them. For the rhetorician interested in the intersecting discourses of religious groups and queer activism, several questions emerge from this paradox: What are the rhetorical strategies at play in this supposition of marginality? What are the implications of this perceived persecution? What do Christians gain by representing themselves as the Other?

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