Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. James F. Darsey - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary E. Stuckey

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael L. Bruner


American presidents have maintained an equilibrium between the role of church and state in government affairs via the nation’s civil religion and a “rhetorical contract” between those secular and sacred interests. While other presidents have incorporated religion in their rhetorical execution of office, George W. Bush has done so in a manner different from his predecessors, emphasizing the role of faith in his administration’s beliefs, actions, and policies. Such rhetoric upsets the tenuous relationship between sectarian and secular affairs. Bush’s breach of the rhetorical contract can be explained by Foucault’s notion of pastoral power. Using practices once associated with the church, the savvy government leader may better control his public. I argue that President Bush has shifted the balance of power between organized religion and government, specifically by means of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, thereby corrupting traditional notions of civil religion in the process of implementing his unique form of new pastoral power.


Included in

Communication Commons