Sin, Sex, and Democracy

Antigay Rhetoric and the Christian Right

By Cynthia Burack

Subjects: Political Science, Religion And Politics, Lesbian / Gay Studies, American Studies, Women's Studies
Series: SUNY series in Queer Politics and Cultures
Paperback : 9780791474068, 221 pages, April 2008
Hardcover : 9780791474051, 221 pages, April 2008

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Table of contents


Introduction: We Are Family
Born-Agains and Other Strangers
The Vision Thing
The Privileged Position of the Christian Right
My Gay Agenda
1. Speaking Right
Queer Is as Queer Does
Defiling Beds, Hearts, and Minds
Who're You Talking To?
Hate the Sin
Being Intolerant
Until the End of the World
Rapture Ready
Know Your Audience
Four Narratives
Use Your Inside Voice
2. The Nightmare of Homosexuality
Gay Blades
Laying Hands on Chick
Behold the Man (and His Time)
Chick Lit
The Devil and Homosexuals
Sin of Sins?
Marketing Hate
Politics and Witness
Pure Rapture
Framing Chick
Standing in the Gap
3. Origin Stories (with Jyl J. Josephson)
Becoming Queer Saving Homosexuals . . . and America
Being of Two Minds
Choice Point
The Narrative of Development
What Went Wrong?
From Development to Compassion
The Political Work of Compassion
Our Parents and Friends
Safety First
Feeling Sorry for Themselves
4. Getting What "We" Deserve
Pick an Enemy
And Now We Are Terrorists
Setting the Straight Story
The Politics of Desert
Where's the Harm?
Bringing Us All Together
Afterword: Another Gay Agenda
Listen Up!
Out in the Public
Another Gay Agenda

Explores the Christian Right’s use of tailored rhetorics to advance multiple and varied antigay political projects.


While the Christian Right has spearheaded a variety of antigay projects over the past fifteen years, including interventions in public schools, antigay-rights initiatives, and support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, observers of the institutionalized Christian Right have also noted a softening of antigay public rhetoric. Sin, Sex, and Democracy analyzes these two ostensibly conflicting phenomena. Examining Christian witnessing tracts, the ex-gay movement, and recent linkages between gays and terrorists, Cynthia Burack argues that as the Christian Right has become a more sophisticated interest group, leaders have become adept at tailoring different messages for mainstream audiences and for the internal pedagogical processes of Christian conservatives. Understanding the rhetoric and the theological convictions that lie behind them, Burack claims, is essential to better understand how American politics work and how to effectively respond to exclusionary forms of political thought and practice.

Cynthia Burack is Associate Professor of Women's Studies at the Ohio State University. She is the author of Healing Identities: Black Feminist Thought and the Politics of Groups and coeditor (with Jyl J. Josephson) of Fundamental Differences: Feminists Talk Back to Social Conservatives.


"…Sin, Sex, and Democracy … reads both as a protest against the virulence of Christian Right homophobic discourse and also as a navigating tool for interacting with it. " — GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

"…seamlessly integrates queer theory, religious history, communications theory, political science, and evangelical pop culture. " — National Women's Studies Association Journal

"The American Protestant religious right's animosity toward lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered (LGBT) is a well documented longstanding political phenomenon, but … Cynthia Burack's Sin, Sex, and Democracy develop[s] new insights about the structure and significance of this animosity. " — Politics and Religion

"This book offers a meticulously detailed account of the way in which antigay discourse is constructed and employed by the Christian Right and those closely associated with it. It is a topic of significance and central to the academic study of politics and cultural practice of politics, particularly in the United States. " — Angelia R. Wilson, author of Below the Belt: Sexuality, Religion, and the American South

"The appeal of this book is the niche it fills: at a time when critics take well-worn and cheap shots at the Christian Right ill fitting the seriousness of the times, this author demands that critics take the Christian Right seriously, not only politically, but theologically. " — Amy E. Ansell, editor of Unraveling the Right: The New Conservatism in American Thought and Politics