Kansas vs. Roeder: Christian Identity, Juridical Discourses and American Exceptionalism

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Click, Teresa L.
Kreinath, Jens

Click, Teresa L. (2011). Kansas vs. Roeder: Christian Identity, Juridical Discourses and American Exceptionalism. -- In Proceedings: 7th Annual Symposium: Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University, p. 20-21


The US Evangelical movement's use of media and the court system since the 1980s to litigate morality issues, such as abortion, has gained global attention with the state of Kansas at the center of this awareness. On May 31, 2009, Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion activist, walked into the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, KS and killed abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller, where he was attending Sunday morning services. I explore Roeder‘s killing of Tiller, as a public crisis, and the news reporting of the subsequent trial from an anthropological perspective. This research was carried out with members of the Wichita community who were bound by their reading of news sources which reported on the trial of Scott Roeder. I posit the public performance of violence and the ritual process of the trial were communicative and catalysts for change within some Christian communities in Wichita. I argue the legal discourses produced as a result of the conflict and resolutions have brought out moderate Evangelical identities and communities, historically associated with conservative Evangelicalism and strictly anti-abortion positions. I also find the distribution of legal discourses impacts religion which allows voice in the secular sphere.

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Paper presented to the 7th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects (GRASP) held at the Marcus Welcome Center, Wichita State University, May 4, 2011.
Research completed at the Department of Anthropology