Latest research from the Journal of Media & Religion

In God We Trust, with God We Fight. Religion in U.S. Presidential War Rhetoric: From Johnson to Obama

Miriam Diez-Bosch & Pere Franch

In times of war, religion features prominently in U.S. presidential rhetoric. It may be used to strengthen courage and hope or to serve as a powerful tool for accepting sacrifices and losses. In this article we examine the speeches of five presidents given specifically in periods of war: Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Then we analyze variations in the volume and type of religious content among these presidents; we use a textual content analysis methodology to study a representative sample of speeches given by the above-mentioned presidents in time of war. We conclude that U.S. presidents try to persuade the audience that the country is going to war to accomplish God’s will. Under this light, religious rhetoric appears to have a higher correlation with the enemy being fought than with the personal convictions of each president.

Religion and New Media: A Uses and Gratifications Approach

Amanda Jo Ratcliff, Josh McCarty & Matt Ritter

This research examines specific relationships between new media and religion. While prior research has focused on the question of whether a relationship exists, we explore technology usage as a predictor of specific religious behavior. Using a sample (N = 423) comprising a cross-section of religious and cultural backgrounds, results indicate that attitudes toward technology and use of social media contribute to how people view religion as a mechanism for meeting needs. Applying uses and gratifications theory in a unique way, three needs related to religion emerged: religion as a means of passing time, religion as a mode of meeting self needs, and religion as a catalyst for learning. We discuss implications of our findings.

The Medium Is the Danger: Discourse about Television among Amish and Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Women

Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar

This study shows how Old Order Amish and ultra-Orthodox women’s discourse about television can help develop a better understanding of the creation, construction, and strengthening of limits and boundaries separating enclave cultures from the world. Based on questionnaires containing both closed- and open-ended questions completed by 82 participants, approximately half from each community, I argue that both communities can be understood as interpretive communities that negatively interpret not only television content, like other religious communities, but also the medium itself. Their various negative interpretive strategies is discussed and the article shows how they are part of an “us-versus-them” attitude created to mark the boundaries and walls that enclave cultures build around themselves. The comparison between the two communities found only a few small differences but one marked similarity: The communities perceive avoidance of a tool for communication, in this case television, as part of the communities’ sharing, participation, and common culture.

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