A Public Relations Case Study Analysis Reveals How the Baptist Missionary Association of America (BMAA) Resolved a Communication Conflict

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Masharul Haque

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism


This case study was the first of its kind to analyze how a religious denomination, the Baptist Missionary Association of America (BMAA), employed public relations practices before, during and after a particular conflict---the first major alteration of the organization's communication processes since its founding in 1950. This study is the first test of the contingency theory in the context of religious conflict. The study included both qualitative long interview analysis of the BMAA national leadership and a quantitative survey of the leaders of the almost 1,300 local churches. Additionally, a communications/media audit was performed. Results of the study suggest that this particular organization most often practices public relations contingently, or "it depends" on the situation. When facing moral or ethical conflicts, the BMAA were unwilling to compromise, and therefore would not be afforded "excellent" status according to some public relations theorists. The study further suggested that there was no significant association between pastors' ages or educational levels and whether these variables were predictors of types of mass media the leaders were involved with on behalf of their churches. Ministerial staffs of the local churches seldom interact with the mass media.