Forsaking Proverbs of Ashes: Evangelical Women, Donald Trump, and Rhetorical Grace

Forsaking Proverbs of Ashes: Evangelical Women, Donald Trump, and Rhetorical Grace

Peith Volume 20 Issue 2 Spring/Summer 2018

Author(s): TJ Geiger

Abstract: By examining divergent evangelical responses to Donald Trump's discourses of sexual violence, I build rhetorical theory from everyday rhetorical practices by religious adherents and I offer feminist rhetoric teachers language that might help confront religion-informed support for rape culture. My analysis relies on theologian and Nazi-resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s distinction between “cheap grace” and “costly grace.” Through their social media writing in October 2016, prominent evangelical women Beth Moore and Jen Hatmaker enact a "costly rhetorical grace" that countered the "cheap rhetorical grace" stemming from "proverbs of ashes" (i.e., evangelical commonplaces) that permitted misogyny and rape culture to persist. These rhetors used costly rhetorical grace to deliberate about Christian values by revising evangelical commonplaces: viewing instances of assault and coercion as primarily about sex rather than power and violence, promoting instant forgiveness, and appealing to in-group identity and trust to diminish the need to confront rape culture.

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