A blog about religious language in all of life’s contexts
Christians talk in code … and the code excludes those who cannot read the secret language. These words of Malcom Doney and Martin Wrote, in a 2019 Church Times article, reflect a common discomfort with religious code talk, what some people call “church-speak” or “Christianese.” Language like “sin”, “salvation”, “discipleship”, “repentance”, “righteousness”, and “judgement” – … Continue reading Complex and Cringeworthy: Christianese and other religious jargon →
“Recent tension, some division and ministry challenges:” Euphemism and avoidance in Cru leadership’s talk about racism
This is the fourth post I’ve written about current controversy in Campus Crusade aka Cru, one of the largest religious orders in the world. I began this series after learning through some light digging that Cru was allegedly coercing some (and now requiring all) staff to sign NDAs (You can learn a bit about this … Continue reading “Recent tension, some division and ministry challenges:” Euphemism and avoidance in Cru leadership’s talk about racism →
Some of my research on religious language has taken me into the rather tricky area of First Amendment rights granted to certain employers by the Supreme Court on the grounds of freedom of religious expression. These employers, granted the status of religious order, are given by law exceptions to the principle of equality in the … Continue reading “Not teachable or cooperative:” Ministerial exception in Cru’s Hire Packet →
This is my second post on the recent Campus Crusade aka Cru anti-CRT publication, written by around 65 Cru staff members and leaders, representing the views of at least 350 Cru staff. I first came across this Cru document after some light digging revealed that Cru leaders were requiring staff to sign NDAs, sometimes in … Continue reading “Simply biblical”: The sacred us vs. them narrative in Cru’s anti-CRT publication →
Why do we say “come to Jesus”? This Christianese phrase doesn’t just show up in church—it shows up in offices, homes, and schools around America, where we speak of “come-to-Jesus moments.” What about words like “community” or “intentional”? Do we even know what those words mean? Unless we attend to our words and try to express our … Continue reading Discussing Christianese and corporate jargon on the Biblical Mind podcast →
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.” Over 174 pages, the document puts forward the views … Continue reading “Calm down”: Campus Crusade aka Cru leaders debate racism and critical race theory →
At an online event on 29th March 2021, The Sacred podcast, hosted by Elizabeth Oldfield, screened Emily Downe’s multi–award-nominated 3–minute film ‘My Dream, My Taste.’ This was followed by a conversation with leading voices from the fields of theology, philosophy and the creative arts, Professor Miroslav Volf, whose episode of The Sacred podcast inspired the … Continue reading The Good Life, The Life Well-lived: Reflections on The Sacred’s recent event ‘My Dream, My Taste’ →
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 →
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Hi, I’m Dr. Valerie Hobbs.
I research, write and teach about religious language.
- An Introduction to Religious Language
- industrial religion
- religious freedom
- religious nationalism
- sacred legitimating authority
- the sacred
- us vs. them
- video abstracts
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