“Motivated by a desire for depolarization, my dissertation uses ethnographic research among women at the politically conservative First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX to examine complex intersections of religion and politics in America. ”
Motivated by a desire to create avenues for political depolarization, my dissertation examines the complicated role of religion in contemporary American public life and politics through an ethnographic study of women at First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX. Anthropological study of culture is built around the conviction that knowledge is best gained through specific and prolonged scientific study. My primary source data, therefore, comes from two years of data collection via participant observation, conducting focus groups, and 60 individual semi-structured interviews. This cultural immersion will answer my research questions: who or what is influential in a woman’s faith formation? How do women live out their faith? How does a woman’s identity as a Christian intersect with her identification as a woman, mother, wife, and as an American? I chose First Baptist Dallas because of its prominent position in both Dallas and American public life right now through their pastor’s recurrent appearances on FOX news programming and as an evangelical advisor to President Trump. This scientific cultural study of the women at First Baptist is crucial to unveil the multi-dimensional voices and performances which buttress or augment the public messages of a prominent pastor. . This rich ethnographic study will also challenge U.S. Christians across the political spectrum to confront us/them narratives and better identify spaces for productive dialogue.