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Category: Religious Rhetoric

How (and Why) to Support Assertive Voices when the Trolls Attack

How (and Why) to Support Assertive Voices when the Trolls Attack

As I’ve been discussing in recent pieces (see here and here), white conservative Christianity has been aggressively cultivating white (supremacist) male aggression as a god term in recent decades. Historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s important book Jesus and John Wayne provides a thorough, evidence-based assertively unflinching account of how this has happened, speaking truth to power. And so it should not be a surprise that her book has come under fire by high profile conservative Evangelical voices in recent weeks,…

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When White Male Aggression Becomes a God Term

When White Male Aggression Becomes a God Term

I had already noted a few weeks back, in my analysis of the excellent and important book Jesus and John Wayne, that I wanted to write an entire piece on white Evangelical rhetoric around “God-given testosterone” causing aggression and domination as natural side effects of “men being men.”  Well, after this week’s violent set of shootings at massage parlors in Georgia by an ardent white male member of a Southern Baptist church, I thought it was time to look more…

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Evangelicalism, Militant (White) Masculinity, and the “Threat” of Assertive Spirituality

Evangelicalism, Militant (White) Masculinity, and the “Threat” of Assertive Spirituality

I just finished reading the book Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez a couple of days ago, and I’ll be honest, it’s so impactful I’m going to be processing it for quite some time. In this article, I’ll talk about how this general audience history book makes the strongest case I’ve seen yet for the need for many people to embody the ideas behind this Assertive Spirituality project, in discussing the disturbing long-term impact of the ideas…

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“Not My Christianity”?: Moving Toward Healthier Responses to the Attempted Coup

“Not My Christianity”?: Moving Toward Healthier Responses to the Attempted Coup

This week has felt like quite the, well, year in the US, hasn’t it? Specifically, the last few days. In this blog post, I plan to respond to one strain of responses to the seditious coup attempt that led to the first breaching of the US Capitol building on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 since 1812: the “Not MY Christianity” rhetoric. See, I totally understand the impulse to fully disclaim the twisted toxic kind of spirituality on display during this insurrection….

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When Christian Nice Demonizes Self Care

When Christian Nice Demonizes Self Care

So this past week I saw a post by a male Christian that suggested in the new year we “serve others rather than ourselves,” and I wanted to analyze today all the many problems with that much-too-prevalent statement today as a one-size-fits-all rule. And especially put it into the broader contexts of societal hierarchies that help demonize self care for many populations in unhealthy ways. In short, this blog post will unwrap how this kind of theological false dichotomy, when…

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Advent, the Inauguration, and the False Doctrine of Learned Helplessness

Advent, the Inauguration, and the False Doctrine of Learned Helplessness

As I write this I am angry. For good reason. You see, it’s taken me several weeks to write this public post, and that’s because of the way I was raised with what I’m calling the false doctrine of learned helplessness. Stay tuned for what that means, and why I’m angry about it, and how I’m working to direct that anger into healthy channels. Specifically I’ll be talking about how much it’s bothered me to admit publicly that I’ve extended…

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Thou Shalt Not Steal and the Rhetoric of Vote-Counting: An Open Letter

Thou Shalt Not Steal and the Rhetoric of Vote-Counting: An Open Letter

I grew up in a church where most Sundays they read the Ten Commandments and such. I knew them, and still know them, incredibly well. And my family’s been in this country, at least in one branch of the family tree, long enough for me to have relatives that went to war to fight for their rights regarding this no taxation without representation business–in other words, the right to have one’s vote count. The question of vote-counting has mattered since…

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Standing Firm in an Era of Public Gaslighting

Standing Firm in an Era of Public Gaslighting

The further things move along, the more intense they get out there. The religio-political gaslighting from the right wing is particularly intense right now, so I wanted to offer a quick post talking about what that looks like and offering some techniques for reasonable folks to stand firm in these challenging times. About Me As a reminder, I’m approaching this topic as a communication scholar who teaches interpersonal communication and has emphases in rhetoric and mediated communication. My research focus…

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A Case for Christian Resistance: A Response to Law and Order Theology

A Case for Christian Resistance: A Response to Law and Order Theology

Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago we had a guest post by Rachel Contos unpacking healthy and unhealthy theologies around “God’s will” and mask-wearing from an Orthodox Christian perspective. This week’s blog post continues a similar theme in a different direction when Rhonda Miska, a Catholic lay preacher, unpacks healthy and unhealthy theologies around law and order and resistance. I really enjoyed both of these pieces and hope you do too. Enjoy the read! Cheers, DS Leiter, Founder, Assertive Spirituality…

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An Open Letter Re: White Evangelicals and Moral Disgust of RBG

An Open Letter Re: White Evangelicals and Moral Disgust of RBG

NOTE: I wrote the following to process my own grief about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg while also helping anyone else who might need to understand the dynamics of how right-leaning white Evangelicals feel about RBG from the perspective of a communication scholar who grew up that way. May RBG’s memory be a blessing, and may all of us be part of that blessing to the world. May we all fight for genuine truth and justice and the equitable…

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The “Holy War of Ideas” and the Demonization of Critical Race Theory: An Analysis

The “Holy War of Ideas” and the Demonization of Critical Race Theory: An Analysis

I’ve been seeing and hearing about it a lot lately from those on the right, and reports from those I know who are also being assertive with unhealthy rhetoric from the right. “Beware of critical race theory,” those on the right are saying. “Don’t trust BLM—they’re Marxist.” And when conservative Christians (mostly white Evangelicals) share this stuff and try to say Christianity is deeply opposed to critical race theory as an ideology, it all takes on a “holy war of…

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QAnon Conspiracy Rhetoric, Hypervigilance, and Questions of Trust

QAnon Conspiracy Rhetoric, Hypervigilance, and Questions of Trust

If you’ve been following along here, you should know that I’ve already been doing a series on the rhetoric of conspiracy for the last few weeks. I previously talked about conspiracy theories here, here and here. This week I’ve seen sex trafficking experts having to work extra hard to refute unhealthy conspiracy rhetoric around that subject (check out, for example, this post I shared recently on the Assertive Spirituality FB page). This piece is a response to that while continuing…

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“Biden Is Against God”? The Patriot Movement as Religio-Political Audience

“Biden Is Against God”? The Patriot Movement as Religio-Political Audience

Two days ago it spread quickly across my timeline, much like an oil spill: the current head of the US administration had made more strange comments about religion. In this article I plan to rhetorically analyze those illuminating comments about Biden being “against God” and “against the Bible,” putting them in context of what I’ve been discussing in this space about god terms, devil terms and conspiracy rhetoric. In the process, I hope you’ll start to understand why the conspiracy…

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Not Wearing a Mask as “Faith”? A Theological Exploration of God’s will and Mask-Wearing

Not Wearing a Mask as “Faith”? A Theological Exploration of God’s will and Mask-Wearing

Guest post by Rachel Contos In the spirit of “Independence” Day in the US (in quotes because we know not everyone was free that day in 1776), I’d like to take some time to examine freedom from a theological perspective and how God’s will and our own free will fit together in order to address questions of unhealthy theology around mask-wearing. As many people finally begin to peek out from their quarantines for the first time and consider whether to…

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When Christian Nice Gets Mean in Minimizing Racism

When Christian Nice Gets Mean in Minimizing Racism

All week I’ve been mulling over how to approach writing about the important matters of racism that are prevalent matters of discussion in this particular stage of the religio-political apocalypse. And then a friend sent me an unhealthy meme about racial injustice that one of their friends had posted, and I knew it was time to talk about how exactly Christian Nice, toxic positivity, and the enactment and enablement of racism intersect to suppress and admonish those who stand up…

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