Divine Order, Divine Myth: The Necessity Of Gender Paradigms In The Study Of Protestant Fundamentalist Thought

Date of Graduation

Summer 1999


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

Russell McCutcheon


Protestant Fundamentalism is a religious movement that has enjoyed a particular American resurgence over the last few decades. Among the most noteworthy and, perhaps, controversial aspects of this movement is its espousal of traditional, hierarchical gender roles (i.e., female submission to male leadership). This thesis will argue that Fundamentalism's very existence is closely connected to the way that the classifications "male" and "female" are understood, perpetuated, and justified, thereby fostering certain arrangements of power, order, and privilege. Using the Promise Keepers and other all-female groups like them as a modern case study, I argue that Fundamentalism's extraordinary ability to create and re-create mythic discourse ensures its very existence. Because gender is the primary vehicle through which much of this mythic discourse takes place, a study of Protestant Fundamentalism must, of necessity, acknowledge gender as the powerful social force that it is.

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© Leslie Elizabeth Smith