Date of Award

Spring 5-2018

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Wendy Atkins-Sayre

Advisor Department

Communication Studies


HB 1523, otherwise known as the Religious Liberty Accommodations Act, is Mississippi’s contribution to a larger national conversation surrounding the duty and obligation that states have to protecting individual liberty and freedom. Even further, though, lies a conversation about how rights and constitutional freedoms can be used to negatively harm and marginalize people on the basis of “freedom of speech” and, more specifically, “freedom of religion.” By examining four pastoral letters published by different Mississippi churches and religious bodies, I aim to show how both sides of this public debate are advancing themselves as the victims of some sort of discrimination, with or without the legislation. Using a Derridean model of the Third Persona, I aim to show how supporters of the bill are actively erasing LGBTQ+ voices in the debate. Through constructing themselves as a counterpublic, I show how all sides of this debate, specifically, are narratively positioning themselves as a counterpublic. These aid in the establishment of the civic religious world views of the Language of Being or the Language of Becoming.