“Calm down”: Campus Crusade aka Cru leaders debate racism and critical race theory

In November, 2020, a group of staff in various positions of leadership at Campus Crusade for Christ, now known as Cru, published an astonishing document aiming to confront their belief that "Cru has embraced a secular system of ideas that divides humanity into victims and oppressors." Seeking-Clarity-and-UnityDownload Over 174 pages, the document puts forward the … Continue reading “Calm down”: Campus Crusade aka Cru leaders debate racism and critical race theory

Linguistic Gaslighting: Disclaimers as anti-performative discourse

This is another post in a series on the language of abuse, connected to an online catalogue which I hope will help others to identify and resist linguistic harm. In this post, I look at how disclaimers (a form of anti-performative discourse) can be used to minimise violence, to coercively control, to manipulate and to gaslight.

Invoking and Distancing from Sacred Authority: Church Leaders’ Responses to a Report on the Rev. Jonathan Fletcher

This post forms part of a catalogue I am building on the subtle language of abuse. In this installment, I consider a common discursive strategy within texts that carry religious meaning: the invocation of sacred legitimating authority and, conversely, distancing from an illegitimate (often formerly sacred) authority. This strategy often works within an overall us vs. them narrative. To illustrate this, I use a set of prominent church leaders' responses to the recent thirtyone:eight report on Rev. Jonathan Fletcher's abuse while he was vicar at Emmanuel Church Wimbledon.

“A temptation to eliminate:” Purity culture and other complementarian discourse in white male violence against women

Robert Aaron Long, a white man, aged 21, has been charged with murder over the killing of eight people at massage parlours in Atlanta, Georgia. Among the victims were six Asian women, prompting discussion about the intersectionality of Long's alleged crimes, the ways these horrific acts of terrorism reveal how Asian and other minority women … Continue reading “A temptation to eliminate:” Purity culture and other complementarian discourse in white male violence against women

Relative Abstraction and Concreteness: The example of the non-apology

"Impersonalisation abounds in the language of bureaucracy, a form of the organisation of human activity constituted on the denial of responsibility, and governed by impersonal procedures which, once put in place, are wellnigh impermeable to human agency." Theo van Leeuwen, The Representation of Social Actors In my most recent blog post, I introduced a catalogue … Continue reading Relative Abstraction and Concreteness: The example of the non-apology

Introduction and Overview of The Subtle Language of Abuse: A Catalogue

An organisation or culture that perpetuates abuse will question the motives of those who ask questions, make the discussion of problems the problem, condemn those who condemn, silence those who break silence, and descend upon those who dissent.Wade Mullen, in Something's Not Right: Decoding the Hidden Tactics of Abuse When you expose a problem you … Continue reading Introduction and Overview of The Subtle Language of Abuse: A Catalogue

The Subtle Language of Abuse: A Catalogue

Before using this catalogue, please refer to the introductory post explaining the catalogue. Some of that post has been reproduced below. This is a catalogue of some of the categories of meaning that subtler abusive language accomplishes and some of the forms that this language can take, depending on the context in which they are … Continue reading The Subtle Language of Abuse: A Catalogue

Us vs. Them: Complementarianism and Culture Wars in UK Churches

Women’s Ministry leader in the FIEC, Sarah Allen, has recently published an article reporting research on the state of complementarianism in UK churches. The experiences her respondents report are concerning and worthy of careful attention, considering the scarcity of research in this area. However, Allen positions her research within an overall United States vs. United … Continue reading Us vs. Them: Complementarianism and Culture Wars in UK Churches

All Abuse is Religious Abuse

Abusive language is a type of linguistic interaction that demeans, humiliates, mocks, belittles, insults or otherwise controls another living being in a way that violates a set of shared sacred ideals. Because of this, I believe all abusive language to be inherently religious, though there are certainly more and less damaging versions. The more intensely … Continue reading All Abuse is Religious Abuse