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A CONTENT ANALYSIS OF RELIGIOUS AND VALUE-ORIENTED FRAMES IN
THE 2004 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
DAWN ANN-MARIE HATTON
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In recognition of their support and guidance,
I hereby dedicated this thesis to my parents,
Ernest and Noreen Hatton.
I would like to first and foremost thank my committee chair, Dr. Marilyn Roberts,
for her continued guidance, assistance and support of this thesis. I am appreciative of the
time and resources she put forward. In addition, I wish to thank the members of my
committee for their continued support throughout this process. Dr. Spiro Kiousis, Dr.
Leonard Tipton and Dr. Ken Wald have been instrumental in the completion of this
project. I would like to thank Manoucheka Celeste for the dedication of her time and
assistance during the coding process. I especially would like to thank the College of
Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida for the countless resources
provided to me. Lastly, I would like to thank my parents, Ernest and Noreen Hatton, for
the immense amount of love, guidance, and support they have shown to me throughout
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOW LEDGM ENTS .................................. ......... iii
LIST OF TABLES ................ ................................ vi
ABSTRACT ................ ................................... vii
1 INTRODUCTION ........ ..........................................1
Framing in Presidential Nominating Conventions ............................ 1
Religious Frames ........ ........................................... 3
Why Religion? ........... ........................................... 3
The 2004 Presidential Election ................ ....................... 5
2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ................ ........................ 7
Political Conventions and Framing Theory ............................... 7
News Coverage ....... ............................................. 8
History of Political Conventions ................ ..................... 10
The M edia ............................................. 12
Framing by Political Elites ................ ......................... 15
Value Framing: Religion, Politics and the Media ........................... 22
Mobilization ................ ................................. 25
Political Participation ............
The M edia ...................
Framing Perspectives ............
3 M ETHOD ...................
R ecap .......................
Qualitative Content Analysis .......
Unit of Analysis ................
Codebook Construction ..........
. . . . . . . . . 2 9
. . . . . . . . . 3 4
. . . . . . . . . 4 2
. . . . . . . . . 4 5
. . . . . . . . . 4 6
4 R E SU L T S ...................................... ................... 47
Brief Overview ...................................... ................ 47
Analysis ............. ............................... .48
Convention Frames ............................................... 50
5 DISCUSSION ........ .......................................... 72
Summary ....... .......... ............................ ........ .72
Conclusions ........ ............................................ 73
Limitations ......... .................................... ......... 75
Future Research ........ ......................................... 76
APPENDIX CODING PARAMETERS FOR C-SPAN COVERAGE OF THE 2004
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION .................... 78
REFERENCES ....... ............................................. 87
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............................................. 94
LIST OF TABLES
4-1 Speaker's role ........ ........................................... 48
4-2 Issue distribution ..................................... .............. 48
4-3 Family values/other values ............... ........................ 55
4-4 Family values/other values: Compassionate (KW) ........................ 61
4-5 Religious values/rhetoric: Compassionate conservative (KW) ............... 61
4-6 Faith/God: Compassionate conservative (KW) ........................... 62
4-7 Faith/God: Lincoln/party of(KW ) ................................... 67
4-8 Faith/God: Reagan/party of (KW ) ................................... 67
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication
A CONTENT ANALYSIS OF RELIGIOUS AND VALUE-ORIENTED FRAMES IN
THE 2004 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
Dawn Ann-Marie Hatton
Chair: Marilyn Roberts
Major Department: Journalism and Communications
Religious rhetoric such as faith, morals, and family values was of considerable
interest during the 2004 Presidential election. The present study is a qualitative content
analysis of the speeches given during the 2004 Republican National Convention. In total,
62 speeches were coded. By using frame analysis, one will see if possible religious
and/or value-oriented frames emerge.
The present study analyzed speeches aired on C-SPAN during prime-time.
C-SPAN was chosen to best distinguish frames put forth by the campaign. A qualitative
content analysis was conducted to study the emergence of frames. SPSS was used as a
way to organize data. The inclusions of key words, phrases, and issues were counted. In
addition, the present study also documented source of speech, speech length, tone of
speaker, and camera cutaways. Four prominent religious frames were identified after
analyzing prime-time, C-SPAN coverage of all four days of the convention.
Framing in Presidential Nominating Conventions
Framing has become a growing element in the study of political communication;
a theory that is increasingly presented as a way to seek analysis of communication
applications to a mass audience. Studying how political candidates speak about an issue,
and by using what language, is an important way to assess framing theory. Framing is
both a noun and a verb; an active process that ends with a result (Reese, 2001). To
understand the impact of analysis more fully, Entman (1993) defines framing as "To
frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a
communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal
interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation" (p. 52). He suggests
that a frame can originate from more than one entity. A frame can be located in the text,
the communicator, the receiver of the message or the culture. In addition, lyengar (1991)
provides a definition of a more general nature. Framing is "subtle alterations in the
statement or presentation of problems" (p. 11).
Political conventions are an important part of a party's presidential election
campaign. Often these events are the very first chance for millions of television viewers
to directly hear from the candidate at length. It is a familiar phrase that a first impression
is often a last impression, suggesting a national political convention might possibly serve
as the first opportunity for a candidate to make a lasting first impression among viewers.
The convention gives political party elites the chance to frame issues and policy
positions, as well as the image of the candidate and the party before the general election
begins. Not only does it speak to the audience viewing at home, it is a moment for state
party delegates to get excited, united and energized about the upcoming campaign.
Since 1952 political conventions have become highly sensationalized, large-scale,
media events (Cafasso, 2003; Fant, 1980). Although coverage of the convention
proceeding on major news networks has recently shortened, stations still devote a large
staff of reporters and huge sums of money to cover and promote the national
conventions. Likewise, political parties continue to spend enormous budgets on the
planning and implementation of the convention, using the free media time to advertise
their candidate. Keynote speeches are broadcast during highly sought after prime-time
viewing spots, and these speeches often contain the key ingredients for a successful
political message. In addition, party films are broadcast to millions of television viewers.
Often by using emotional appeals, the candidates are framed to appear in a certain light.
Although political advertisements have received substantial amounts of political
communication research, national conventions have gone virtually unnoticed by
After reviewing literature on presidential campaigns and political communication,
one can suggest that there are important reasons to further study the effects of political
conventions on the viewing electorate. Not only do presidential nominating conventions
often resemble political ads, there is research to suggest that because this is often the first
time the candidate will speak at length and uninterrupted, effects on voters will occur.
Also, the large number of frames presented by the political elites who construct the
convention and the possible frames presented by the media who cover the convention,
framing should be applied and studied more often in relation to national political
conventions. Framing theory offers an excellent opportunity to better understand
political communication and its effects on the electorate. Studying framing in political
conventions will provide additional insight into how political messages are constructed
and intended to change and affect voting behavior.
As scholars have suggested, religion affects politics and politics affects religion
(Page, 2004). However, it is imperative to understand what role the media play within
the relationship of religion and politics. The intermediary role that media often serve is
most evident during political elections, when voters rely on the media for information
about candidates and issues (Dalton, Beck, & Huckfeldt, 1998). It has become apparent
that religious elites and political elites have recently become much more sophisticated in
their use of the media in transferring messages and building agendas (Diamond, 1989,
1998). Since research shows that the media often affect people's perceptions of reality
and define issues for public discourse, it is imperative for political and religious scholars
to continue in-depth research in analyzing what contribution the media make to the over-
arching discipline of religion and politics.
Religion and politics can at times be two very dependent entities. Throughout
history, religion has had an impact on the politics of its day. Religion has mobilized
groups, has created meaning for the individual, and has tied the individual to a set of
beliefs and provided identity to a community in which to belong. Therefore, it is
apparent that religion is a force that is often hard to combat or control. Religion is
pervasive and has the ability to challenge and energize political movement with more
support than most other secular organizations can reach in comparison.
Since religion has the ability to provide meaning for people, it can often coincide
within the political realm because of the sense of identity religion often provides for, or
contributes to, an individual. When a community adopts a shared system of beliefs,
based on the ultimate supreme power of God and His word, it becomes difficult to
translate those beliefs into every aspect of one's life. The political discourses of societies
have been developed often with prior religious values in mind. Take for example,
America. Although our country was based on a freedom of religion and a separation of
Church and State, common religious themes are found and promoted throughout the
beginnings of this nation's history. We, as Americans, are told by our Declaration of
Independence that we were endowed by our Creator with a right to equal treatment. Such
writings provided early Americans a set of political ideologies that were to many a direct
reference to already formed religious beliefs. As Robert Bellah (1967) would argue, the
United States had and has a "civil religion," a set of "sacred values" that all Americans
can subscribe to regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof.
The impact of religion on politics, as seen above, can be somewhat discrete, and
at times it can be much more obvious. For example, the 2004 race for the presidency
now has become inundated with the term "religion." Take for instance the following
quote from journalist Susan Page (2004), "Where will you spend Sunday morning? Will
you go to church or Home Depot? Sing in the choir or play golf? Answer that question
and you've given the most reliable demographic clue about your vote on Election Day."
Page continues by stating, "The religion gap is the leading edge of the 'culture war' that
has polarized American politics, reshaped the coalitions that make-up the Democratic
and Republican parties and influenced the appeals their presidential candidates are
making." (p. 8D)
The election cycle often was comprised of a political rhetoric that spoke to those
of a particular faith and used symbolic symbols to inflict religious undertones into the
campaign, or in association with candidates. If one did not know better, it might be easy
for him/her to assume that separation of church and state no longer existed in the recent
2004 election cycle. However, that could be considered too much of a generalization.
What is true, though, is that religion is having an impact on current politics.
Churches are mobilizing to oppose or support political and/or judicial decisions such as
Roe v. Wade, stem cell research, the legalization of civil unions, the war in Iraq,
healthcare reform or the constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage. Churches
are having an enormous effect on politicians and legislation. Not only have the religious
leaders amongst various sects become heavily involved (in some instances outright
telling congregation members which political candidate God is smiling upon and thus
when to vote for), but massive mobilization has occurred on behalf of the GOP to recruit
and organize election day votes based on the main criterion they would argue the church
member and the President share-faith.
The 2004 Presidential Election
The topic of religion and politics was of considerable interest during the recent
2004 Presidential election. Although many argue that religious rhetoric is what won the
election for President George W. Bush, many religious scholars are not yet convinced
that the "religious vote" was drastically different from that of previous presidential
elections. However, many individuals would think otherwise when analyzing how the
media covered the "value vote." The topic of religion was dominant in the media
coverage this year with specials airing devoted to the "religious issues" of the campaign,
extensive coverage of Kerry's "Catholic dilemma," religious elites such as Pat Robertson
and Jerry Falwell making multiple media appearances before the election, and popular
news magazines featuring cover stories such as the one issued by Time Magazine
entitled, "Faith in the Oval Office." Though the dynamic between the three elements
(media, religion, and politics) is extremely complex, the researcher hopes to show,
through a review of the literature on media framing, that the media serve as a key
component to the mobilization of religious groups, act as a carrier of elite framing
messages, and often define and shape public opinion on prominent value-oriented issues
in the election environment.
After briefly outlining the importance of studying political conventions, in
relation to framing theory, the researcher contends that study of the 2004 GOP
Convention will add valuable knowledge to the study of communication. Specifically
religious frames, their inclusion or exclusion, will be analyzed within television content
of the 2004 GOP Convention. Religious frames were chosen because many scholars
have noted that religion served as a mobilization tool for the campaign and was given
salience by the media. Because politicians work hard to frame media coverage of the
message, the national convention provides an important venue for this engagement. As
Republicans have become more dependent on evangelical Protestants, religious imagery
and rhetoric have assumed an increasing importance in their message. Therefore, a
systematic test using framing theory should reveal strong evidence of religious framing.
Chapter 2 presents a literature review; Chapter 3 outlines the methods; Chapter 4 presents
findings and results; and Chapter 5 presents a discussion, conclusions, limitations, and
direction for further research.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Political Conventions and Framing Theory
The way political elites "frame" issues in a political campaign and the way the
media give attention to those issues, and/or frame the campaign by their own salience of
coverage, has been a topic of considerable interest to both political and communication
scholars. As Gulati, Just and Crigler (2004) note, "News about political campaigns
represents an ongoing negotiation among key actors in the campaign process: on the
media side-journalists, editor, and owners; on the campaign side-candidates,
campaign staffers, and party activists" (p. 237). It can be assumed that all news is based
on a perceived construction of reality. However, the attention given to that perceived
reality by the media has the ability to shape and form public opinion. As Entman (1993)
states, framing is "to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more
silent in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem
definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation and/or treatment recommendation" (p.
52). Or as Gamson (1992) suggests, framing provides a "signature matrix" of symbols,
images, metaphors and reasoning devices. A frame is a "tool" that uses media texts to
construct social meaning. Framing is a theory beyond the mere inclusion or exclusion of
information and can be approached in a variety of ways (Reese, 2001).
The theory of framing, although it has been applied to numerous disciplines,
continues to be significant in understanding the role the media serves in political life.
Not only is it important when researching how the media cover political events, it is
important in understanding when and how political elites use the media to carry a
message and/or political agenda. Recent research continues to suggest and affirm that
political elites have become more sophisticated in using the media. Gulati et al. (2004)
suggest this by stating, "In the past 20 years, presidential candidates have become savvy
about how to stay 'on the message' and how to get journalists to cover what they want
the public to hear." Entman (1993) notes frames can be ignited by various entities; from
the communicator to the receiver to the culture.
There has been more than 60 years of research on how political campaigns have
been covered by journalists. Many early studies show that journalists cover the "horse
race" in political campaigns more than issues or candidate policy positions. The "horse
race" can be interpreted as suggesting that the media cover more about the campaign
itself and the competing strategies of the candidate and competition. This type of
coverage is even more apparent in the primary elections. This, however, can be
attributed to fact that the primaries are contests between candidates of the same party,
with even fewer differences in policy issues and positions. Scholars contend that one
reason the "horse race" is seen as dominating coverage is due to time constraints,
pressure upon journalists and constant deadlines; covering in-depth issue stories would
take considerably more time that often can not be described in lay terms.
Television journalists have increasingly taken the political stage, through
reporting or commentary, thus leaving less time for candidate "sound bites" (Hallin,
1992). "Because of network TV's mass exposure, decisions made under preparation time
and air time limitations can make lasting viewer impressions in seconds" (Lowry &
Shidler, 1995). Candidate "sound bites" have significantly been reduced in recent
elections, suggesting the heightened responsibility on the campaign to manipulate the
media. For example, many cable news stations devote a complete newscast to "pundits
talking to other pundits," often blurring the line between expert and reporter (Gulati et
al., 2004, p. 243). Therefore the campaigns must know how to promote out their agenda,
frame issues, and use the media as the message carrier-the campaign must be savvy in
controlling their message.
As previously stated, framing can be studied and presented in a variety of ways.
One source of frames, which can be linked to how the political elites organize messages,
can be summarized in the following explanation by Hertog and McLeod (2001). The
authors suggest that a source of frames "is the deliberate attempt of individuals or groups
to structure public discourse in a way that privileges their goals and means of attaining
them" (p. 146) Political campaign professionals make use of several important media
moments to structure public discourse and frame issues to their advantage during the
election cycle. Political advertisements, presidential nominating conventions, and
television debates all serve as significant media opportunities for the campaign to
transmit messages to a mass audience. These "media opportunities" serve as a chance for
campaigns to control the message, persuade individuals, construct candidate images, and
present policy/issue initiatives; all in a specific framework that aims to elicit votes for
their candidate. As stated in the introduction, this paper seeks to review presidential
nominating conventions in relation to framing theory, and hopes to encourage more
research dedicated to analyzing the frames presented within political conventions. There
is little research to date on political conventions and how the media cover them.
Applying framing theory to political conventions and conducting research studies on this
topic could provide important information to the study of political communication.
History of Political Conventions
Presidential nominating conventions have been around for more than 175 years
and have come to serve as an extravagant close to the primary season. The convention
acts as a time to unite and rally the party together before the general election campaign
begins. Although political conventions have been seen in our nation's history for quite
some time, conventions were not defined within the United States Constitution. The
founding fathers had quite a large amount of distrust towards national political parties.
Nominations in the early part of the 19th century were done during an informal party
caucus by selected members of Congress. These were often secret events, which spurred
the large-scale public events conventions are seen as today. The presidential nominating
convention came to be as a result of these secret caucuses. Americans wanted more direct
political power, and did not feel that caucus choices reflected the will of the people. For
example, in 1816 and 1820 only one presidential candidate was nominated. James
Monroe won the presidency both years unopposed. This sparked negativity and protest
among the people about the caucus system.
In 1824 the caucus system was replaced by political conventions, when the
Democratic-Republican Party held a small nominating convention. Soon to follow were
national, systematic, structured, state-representative conventions; the first held by the
Anti-Masonic Party, a third party, in 1831. The Democratic Party followed in 1832 and
the first Republican Party convention was held in 1856, 2 years after the party's
formation. Since then, these political events have become an expected structure of the
electoral process, and have grown into enormous, promotional, sensationalized media
events. Ironic, some people have claimed that parties essentially borrowed this
organizational form from religious camp meetings.
Political conventions serve several purposes, although some scholars would
suggest these functions have been recently stripped away from the convention process.
However, the main purpose is still intact: To formally nominate the party's candidate for
president before the public. Today, there is no surprise about who the presidential
nominee will be during the convention, but it was not always that way. Before majority
rules were adopted by both political parties, early voting procedures to nominate the
presidential candidate were often lengthy events. For example, in 1860 Senator Stephen
Douglas was nominated on the 59th ballot. In 1912 Woodrow Wilson was nominated on
the 46th ballot. Sometimes a "dark horse" candidate would prevail-a candidate who
had little or no formal support before the conventions. James Polk, who went on to win
the presidency, was considered a "dark horse." His name did not even enter the balloting
process until the eighth ballot. However, he received the presidential nomination of his
party on the ninth ballot, and later became the 11th President of the United States of
Political conventions serve purposes other than nominating candidates. Although
many people view conventions as giant pep rallies, important political events underlie all
the chanting, sign waving, singing, and celebration. Important members of committees
are chosen in the opening of the convention, along with a convention chairperson.
Political conventions offer party members the chance to discuss and confer political
strategies, debate political issues and develop the party's platform. History would
suggest that for a long time the convention served as a meaningful and important time for
political debate within the party. Often debates became so heated that party members
would leave the convention hall. The chaotic atmosphere that regularly occurred within
these early conventions quickly changed when the introduction of television came about.
As Grabianowski (2005) states
Suddenly, the circus of a national party convention was broadcast into homes
around the country. Every floor debate, interruption, protest, and delegate
squabble was there for public viewing. This gradually led to the changes in the
primaries we see today-no more debates or arguments, no unplanned speeches
or interruptions, and protesters are kept miles away from the convention floor.
Now, the convention is a media event, attended by almost as many reporters as
delegates, and broadcast in carefully selected prime-time viewing slots. (p. 3)
Political parties wanted to present a structured, unified party to the electorate. This is just
one effect television has had on changing the political arena.
The media have covered the presidential nominating process since the 1800s.
Newspapers briefly covered the secret nominating causes, and therefore covered the
conventions that later followed. Radio began its coverage of national political
conventions in 1924, and in 1940 the first-ever televised convention was held by the
Republican Party. As previously noted, the media have continued to cover these political
events, making media coverage one of the most important elements within the current
convention structure. The media, therefore, have historically become an integral part of
the convention process; some scholars even suggesting that much of the convention
proceedings are now staged, resembling one big television advertisement to appeal and
persuade the at home viewing audience.
The emergence of media has made many contributions to political processes and
has often changed the way the political process is executed. When radio rose to be a
popular new medium, the way politicians and political parties transferred their messages
was constructed in a new way. President Roosevelt's "Fireside Chats" and radio
coverage of political events such as conventions and debates are just a few examples of
how the medium changed the political process. In 1933, Elbert Harrington wrote about
radio's impact on political conventions. He stated, "In the national nominating
conventions of last June there was given to the public at large a splendid opportunity of
judging almost every conceivable type of public speaking" (p. 25). Harrington goes on to
Radio, by enlarging the number of listeners by countless thousands and by
placing the vast majority of them in an altogether different speaking situation,
magnified defects which otherwise would have escaped the public notice. At no
other time in history had so many people participated in these conventions, and to
a certain extent the importance of this unseen audience was clearly recognized in
the Democratic Convention when the meetings were postponed at one time
because of conflicts in broadcasting facilities. (p. 25)
Thus the media, by covering political events to a mass audience, was changing
the way political parties, campaigns and candidates delivered and formed their messages.
It has only continued to increase in importance in the minds of campaign strategists who
see the media as a vital and crucial role to winning an election. Today television and the
Internet reach far beyond the thousands of individuals the radio spoke to during those
early broadcasts. Literally millions of people are reached almost instantaneously in a
It is first important to understand the enormous ability the media have acquired
through technological growth. Lowry and Shidler (1995) explain that the vast majority
of individuals in modem society use television to receive information about political
campaigns, specifically presidential campaigns. "The vast majority of the voters in a
presidential campaign never get to see and hear one of the presidential or vice
presidential candidates in person; instead, voters are limited to television if they want to
see and hear the candidates on anything even approaching a face-to-face basis" (p. 33).
The authors also note that in a 1992 post-election survey, 82% of individuals surveyed
stated that they received the majority of their news about the presidential election
campaigns from television. However, since candidate sound bites on television news
coverage have significantly gotten shorter, (42.3 seconds in the presidential campaign of
1968 compared to only 9.8 seconds in the presidential campaign of 1988; Adatto, 1990)
media viewers have a restricted opportunity to hear the candidates speak for themselves
expect during the national political conventions and the series of candidate debates.
Therefore, one can assume that these opportunities are increasingly important for
campaigns and for the candidate who must appeal to a television audience.
The media began its extensive television coverage of national presidential
campaigns in 1952. The direct opportunity for people to receive instant political
information about the campaign via the actual political actors can be seen in the historical
media coverage campaigns have received since then. As discussed previously, the
candidate has three main media avenues within a campaign where the core of
responsibility is in the hands of political elites to disseminate a message. These are
political advertising, political conventions and political debates, although televised
interviews, publicity, etc are used as well. The media's role in political conventions
however, is quite different from political advertisements or debates. The media's role in
covering a presidential convention can be seen as cooperation between the networks and
the political parties. Both entities share the common desire to attract as many television
viewers as possible. As Fant (1980) states, The cooperation between them in
attempting to achieve this end has over the years developed into a strong reciprocal
relationship from which the parties receive free, national exposure and the networks are
given a rare opportunity to present live, emotional programming and to promote their
news departments" (p. 130).
The evolution of political campaign coverage begins with this unique, cooperative
relationship between both the networks and the parties. Often the national committees
have curtailed dull proceedings, even conducting such events weeks before the
convention so that convention proceedings are more interesting to television viewers.
Debates and factions within the party have been kept to a minimum so that the party
appears unified. The balloting process has changed so that presidential candidates are
known months in advance and there are no unexpected surprises. Convention speeches
are scripted by professional speechwriters, and as Fant (1980) notes, "The 1972
Republican convention instructed young, attractive, and professionally trained speakers
when to pause, nod, and accept 'spontaneous' cheers" (p. 132). Months in the making,
whole marketing, communication and political teams assemble the perfect location, stage
and theme. Thus, the convention now serves as a political "infomercial," one big
advertisement for the party's presidential nominee. As Cafasso (2003) states, "A
properly planned and executed communications program surrounding a national
convention can rank near the Olympics, Super Bowl or World Series" (p. 6).
Framing by Political Elites
Because national political conventions are seen by many scholars as
"infomercials" in support of the presidential nominee, framing can serve as an important
research tool to understand how messages are being constructed by both the political
elites and by the mass media. Conventions, just like advertisements, target specific
groups of people. Cafasso (2003) suggests that public relation opportunities abound at
political conventions, and there are five main audiences at play in transmitting the
convention agenda. The five main audiences are (1) the delegates; (2) officials from
local, state and federal government, including influential policy-makers; (3) like-minded
activists (4) corporate, academic and non-profit influencers; (5) the over 1 million
television viewers and "millions more who get their news from newspapers, radio and
online services" (p. 6).
Although political conventions can draw many resemblances to political
advertising, research conducted on how conventions frame messages or affect voter
perceptions has been widely neglected. There is very little scholarly research written
about national political conventions and media effects, compared to, political advertising
and political debates that have seen considerable amounts of research. One might
suggest that this is because political conventions have little effect on the electorate. This,
however, could be argued. For example, in the 2004 election alone, President Bush
received a considerable point increase over his opponent after the televised proceedings
of the Republican National Convention. This type of boost can be seen after many
presidential conventions, suggesting that conventions do affect the viewing electorate.
"By and large, manipulation of the content of televised conventions places these two,
television and the major political parties, into an elite sphere which perpetuates itself and
directs the political consciousness of the nation" (Fant, 1980, p. 138).
Framing research in political communication has most often been used to study
how journalists report on political issues (Gamson, 1992; Gitlin, 1980; Parmelee, 2002).
This type of research is primarily focused on what type of issues gain media salience, and
what story lines are prominent in coverage. Frames, as stated numerous times, can be
constructed by various entities (Pan & Kosicki, 1993). Within the field of
communication, there is less research specifically oriented on how those in the
communication field, other than journalists, construct frames. However, this is where
many scholars feel that the future of framing research will lie. Roefs (1998) states, "It is
to be expected that the future of framing research will include entertainment, public
relations, and advertising, which are all, of course, areas where framing is a deliberate,
daily activity, perhaps even the raison d'etre" (Epilogue section, I1).
Political conventions, therefore, which have been deemed by scholars as one big
political advertisement, are an important avenue to study and apply framing theory. As
research has previously suggested, political advertising might be correlated to behavioral
effects on voters (Kaid, 2004). Several studies actually show that a voter exposed to a
specific message within a political ad will vote in line with the message and/or
advertisement (Cundy, 1986; Kaid, 2004; Mulder, 1979). Not only has political
advertising been shown to elicit behavioral effects, but exposure to political ads are often
associated with voters understanding and recalling candidate issues/policies more
thoroughly, as well as the images portrayed by the campaign. In addition, political
advertising affects those with lower levels of voter involvement (Kaid, 2004).
Benoit and Blaney (2000) found similarities between presidential conventions and
political advertising. Benoit, in many previous studies (Benoit, 1997a, 1997b, 1998,
1999; Benoit, Blaney, & Pier, 1998; Benoit & Czerwinski, 1997; Benoit & Gustainis,
1986), has analyzed the "rhetorical situation" (Benoit & Blaney, p. 63) that political
candidates face in enhancing one's image. There are three prominent ways a candidate
can increase favorability with a possible voter. Benoit describes these three mechanisms
as acclaimingg, attacking and defending." Acclaiming, attacking or defending has been
applied by scholars to political advertisements and is often related to this form of
political communication. Benoit has studied these mechanisms in relation to political
ads, political debates, and (for purposes of this paper) political conventions.
The authors studied keynote speeches in political conventions from 1960-1996.
As explained previously, conventions are important for scholarly research because often
the national party convention serves as the first opportunity for voters to hear directly
from the candidates for more than a few "sound bite" seconds. Convention speeches
have made history on several occasions. For example, George H. Bush made this pledge
during the 1988 Republican National Convention: "Read my lips, no new taxes" (Zeller
& Truslow, 2004). Overall, it was found that the keynote speeches during a presidential
nominating convention often employ the same strategies used within a political
advertisement. The speeches most often use the "acclaim" function (51%) over attacks
or defenses. Also in line with political advertising, the keynote speeches more heavily
address "policy considerations" (Zeller & Truslow, 2004, p. 61) than the character of the
candidate or challenging the character of the opponent. Political advertising literature
suggests that attacking or addressing policy positions over candidate images resonates
better with the voter. More keynote speeches are considered "negative" and recently
have ventured more toward a negative tone than in years past. Overwhelmingly,
keynotes were found to contain utterances of past deeds and emphasize ideals. Also, the
specific candidate is targeted more than the political party of the candidate (Benoit &
Blaney, 2000). Keynote speeches could be possibly the most important aspects within a
convention for creating candidate image and transmitting messages to voters. In recent
conventions, the media have cut considerable amounts of coverage down to prime-time
slots reserved solely for keynote speeches. In line with the research above, keynote
speeches highly resemble political advertisements.
The keynote speeches of political conventions tend to be more negative than
political television spots, inaugural addresses and political debates (Benoit & Blaney,
2000). "We believe that keynotes are the most negative of these campaign message
forms because the speakers are surrogates; the candidate is the rhetor in all of these other
message forms" (p. 71). Although keynotes tend to be highly negative, there is a vast
amount of scholarly research which suggests, negative advertising has positive effects for
a candidate's campaign. Negative ads often encourage more recall of candidate
information and name recognition. Another important finding regarding negative
advertising is that these ads often include more issue substance than one might assume.
It has been found that voters many times learn more about issues through political
advertising than found in newscasts. The same might possibly be said of convention
keynotes. As Benoit and Blaney state, "Contrary to what some might assume, these
speeches possessed considerable substance: more utterances were devoted to policy (and
especially past deeds) than to character (which discussed ideals frequently)" (p. 73).
In addition to keynote addresses, films shown during the national conventions
present an important opportunity to apply framing analysis. Promotional type films
about the presidential nominee have become a staple of recent political conventions. In
2004 both the Democratic and Republican party played such films during the convention.
Often party films are shown either directly before or after the candidate accepts the
nomination to run for president. These films have increasingly become more about
appealing to the television audience at home than to state party delegates or others
attending the convention. As Fant (1980) notes, "The party film, directed primarily to
the television audience rather than to the convention delegates, is one of the parties' most
effective resources" (p. 132).
The first candidate film to be shown at a political convention was "The Pursuit of
Happiness" shown to ABC and NBC television viewers during the 1956 Democratic
Convention. CBS viewers did not get to see the candidate film, which infuriated party
elites. Instead of showing the film, CBS cut away to other convention happenings. The
backlash by upset party elites and delegates resulted in the central camera platform being
stormed. After that episode, there were no more incidents in which a network did not
show the party film to television viewers (Fant, 1980). Since then, the convention
strategists have made it necessary for television networks to air these promotional
candidate films by often placing the podium directly in front of several projection panels.
House lights are also dimmed so that cameras cannot cut away from the film to tape
delegate reactions to the film or other sections of the convention hall.
Many critics have called political convention films one large candidate
advertisement. Though convention films have not been readily studied for their effects
by communication scholars, party elites continue to suggest that these films are important
in communicating the convention message and image of the party's nominee; the
convention organizers seem to believe it is necessary to have the networks broadcast
party films during convention coverage. Parties have realized the significance such films
hold. In 1964 Henry Cabot Lodge, while in Saigon, used televised films in place of
actual appearances during the Republican primary and won. Fant (1980) explains,
"Nevertheless, his use of television film in place of personal appearances in the state
enabled him to win the primary, defeating Goldwater, Rockefeller, and Nixon" (p. 133).
After this occurrence, political parties felt reinforced about the effects television could
possibly have on political events and quickly formed a television advisory committee in
collaboration with the networks to seek advice. This committee met more the 24 times in
1964 to help plan the national party conventions.
As previously discussed, one can suggest that political elites often use framing to
portray issues and candidate images in a certain way. This can often be seen through the
inclusion and exclusion of ideas, visuals, words or phrases (Reese, 2001). One can also
claim that the media are important to the political process because they act as the carrier
of messages and are sometimes responsible for the frame by the words they choose to
report with, or the salience journalists choose to ascribe to a candidate or political event.
Parmelee (2000) studied framing in relation to presidential primary videocassettes
distributed during the early months of the primary campaign. The author found that
within each campaign video, frames were constructed to "package" the candidate in a
particular way. However, what is interesting to note is that in each of the videos studied,
the media served as the "supplier of validation for their claims" (p. 327).
Pfau, Diedrich, Larson, and Van Winkle (1995) claim that primary elections have
a considerable amount of potential to influence voter perceptions of the candidates,
especially those of low involvement. The authors' remark on this by stating that
"candidates utilize television to foster an image of themselves in precisely those
circumstances in which the medium's potential for influence may be greatest" (p. 122).
Roberts and Martinez (2004) analyzed Hispanic and African American newspaper
coverage of the 2000 Republican National Convention to see if both groups used similar
frames in reporting news about the convention. The groups were analyzed because it was
often suggested that the 2000 GOP presidential campaign targeted multicultural
Americans more than the previous 1992 and 1996 campaigns. In 2000, the Republican
Convention tried to promote a message of inclusion with the theme, "Renewing
America's Purpose. Together" (Roberts & Martinez, 2004, p. 5). The authors named
differing frames for both ethnic newspapers, and found that often newspapers were
skeptical of the GOP's message of inclusion.
Finally, Paletz and Elson (1976) analyzed 1972 coverage of the national
conventions of both parties and argue that network news coverage of the conventions was
often manipulated, suggesting a different view of what was actually happening to the
television audience at home. When interviewing delegates from the 1972 Democratic
convention, more than 83% indicated differences between the media coverage of the
event and what they felt actually occurred during the convention while in actual
attendance. One of the major criticisms the authors note is that media coverage is many
times overly sensational and highly dramatized. The authors concluded by stating that
there were possibly "direct causal links" suggesting McGovern suffered directly from the
television coverage of the convention, while Nixon benefited (Paletz & Elson, p. 128).
The way the coverage shapes the convention to a television audience leads the authors to
suggest, "All this leads to the general criticism made primarily by politicians, more often
privately than publicly, that television convention coverage is sometimes biased in favor
of or against particular candidates, issues, or groups" (Paletz & Elson, p. 112). If their
analysis of McGovern proved correct, one might suggest framing occurred by the media
during the 1972 convention, and possibly contributed to McGovern's defeat for the
Value Framing: Religion, Politics and the Media
Religion and politics are two disciplines that have been recognized as becoming
ever-more intertwined. A CNN/USA Today Gallup poll in December 2000 revealed that
"one out of two voters would be more likely to support a candidate who talked about his
relationship with Jesus. Only a quarter said they would be less likely" (Bozell, 2000,
p. 46). Survey Data collected in 2004 from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
suggests that, although Americans are divided on whether religious groups should
become directly involved in politics, a majority of Americans do want politicians to
address issues of faith. Religion has become a topic of interest recently by political
candidates, the media, and the American public. According to surveys taken after the
2004 Presidential election, Bush won 79% of the evangelical vote and 52% of the
Catholic vote; both groups compromising millions of individuals (Cooperman & Edsall,
2004). Not only has religion been merely a topic of interest, some would suggest that the
subject has been the dominate talk in the current election cycle. As Barry W. Lynn
(2004) asks sarcastically in his article, Religion And Politics: Making "The Connection"
And Getting "To The Point" (on discussing the amount of religious rhetoric apparent in
the 2004 race for the presidency), "Will we then see the entire presidential campaign end
with a round of 'Bible Jeopardy' played in primetime on the Fox News Channel?" The
author goes on to state, "One hopes not" (p. 23).
Religious rhetoric such as faith, morals, and family values has recently permeated
candidate messages, political advertisements, religious sermons, and the mass media to
an increasingly captivated audience. Political candidates continue to draw reference on
such rhetoric, as it can be assumed, vying for the "religious vote." For example,
Cooperman and Edsall write in a Washington Post article:
In dozens of interviews since the election, grass-roots activists in Ohio, Michigan
and Florida credited President Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, with
setting a clear goal that became a mantra among conservatives: To win, Bush had
to draw 4 million more evangelicals to the polls than he did in 2000. (p. A01)
This current election cycle has proven that religion and politics have an indispensable
relationship, one that makes for a significant research tool in the study of media
There are several significant reasons why media techniques would be important to
the study of religion and politics, especially in relation to the 2004 Presidential election.
In particular, the research tool of frame analysis can help to shed light on the way events
and issues in everyday life are organized and "framed," and thus transmitted to an
audience to elicit a set of meanings. Framing assists individuals in forming a schema
about certain social issues and/or events-therefore, forming public opinion. "frames
may best be viewed as an abstract principle, tool, schemataa' of interpretation that works
through media texts to structure social meaning" (Reese, 2001, p. 14). Frames are active
structures that generate information through the inclusion and exclusion of ideas and
visuals from the public forum. As Gamson and Modigliani (1989) suggest, framing is a
"central organizing idea ... for making sense of relevant events, suggesting what is at
issue" (p. 3).
Framing is a theory that primarily seeks to explain how public opinion is formed.
Thus, one can understand why framing has become increasingly more important to the
field of political communication. With the recent infiltration of religious rhetoric in
politics, one must conclude that understanding the theory of framing might possibly be
an important contribution to religious scholars. Stout and Buddenbaum (2003) note that,
"In the study of religion and media, framing has value far beyond just knowing what is in
the news; it also determines the types of information that ultimately contribute to public
opinion about particular religions" (p. 1). In addition to Stout and Buddenbaum's notion,
framing theory can help one understand how religion has recently been framed by
political elites and the media, and thus formed into public opinion.
After previously outlining the basic definitions of framing theory, this thesis
sought to address how and why framing theory should be looked at more closely by
religious scholars. Within the academic field, the relationship between religion, politics
and the media has been neglected in comparison to other disciplinary relationships. As
Judith Buddenbaum (Stout & Buddenbaum, 2003) suggests, "Among researchers, the
tendency has been to study the media and religion in isolation from each other and both
at least somewhat separate from other institutions and from the surrounding culture" (p.
14). Applying framing theory to religious and value-oriented communication, one can
better understand elite political discourse and how public opinion is formed.
When arguing that the media have a place within the field of religion and politics,
it is first important to understand the relationship between the two disciplines.
Mobilization and political participation are most likely the effect that elites wish to
establish when using the media to carry political and/or religious messages. This
stimulation is expressed in what scholars deem "issue mobilization," political
participation that is directly linked to a value system. In recent years, one can argue that
politicians have framed issues to appeal and activate those who could most easily be
issue-mobilized. Therefore, religion is often a catalyst to mobilize individuals to action.
As suggested in the introduction, religion and politics often constitute a circular
relationship. The two can, at times, be two very dependent entities. Throughout history,
religion has had the ability to provide meaning for individuals and has tied individuals
and cultures to a core set of beliefs, thus creating an identity and community in which to
belong. Religion is pervasive. It has the ability to challenge and invoke political
movements, with more support than most other secular organizations can reach in
comparison. As some would state, religion has been the prime variable in moving a
significant number of individuals to the polls in an election cycle. Because religion
provides meaning and identity for individuals, a religious framework might possibly be
one of the best tools in reaching a large segment of society for political purposes.
History suggests that the political discourse of many societies has often been developed
with religious values in mind. Thus, religious rhetoric is a very powerful mobilization
and communication tool.
Religion has long since been used as a form of political mobilization. As
suggested previously, religion often provides identity for individuals. Habits, languages,
traditions, political and religious beliefs all form a network that creates the individual
self. Ruth Benedict (1934) once explained culture as the key to understanding
personality. Culture, to her, was a type of"group personality," hence the significance it
held. Sociologist Emile Durkheim (1915) agreed with prior scholars on the importance
that one's culture exerts. However, Durkheim added the notion that culture and religion
are often interchangeable, dependent ideas. Once born into a group, feelings of
obligation to members of that group begin to form. This obligation to community is
inseparable from religion, and religion is inseparable from the social framework in which
the individual resides. As Durkheim stated in his book, The Elementary Forms of the
Religious Life, "The idea of society is the soul of religion" (p. 419). Thus, culture,
religion and social/political action can be viewed as a coherent chain of sociological
events; religion being the fuel that feeds the political climate of a society.
The meaning created through religion has certainly prompted and affected the
political realm. A direct reflection of how one's values, derived strictly through religious
meaning, have led to political action is the antifeminist sentiment. A study conducted by
Himmelstein (1986) showed that the social basis for antifeminism was not
socioeconomic status, age, education, or dependence upon men. The basis for this
sentiment was found to rest in the religious network and culture a woman belonged to.
Himmelstein explains that the overwhelming religious sentiment among churches of
diverse denominations is that abortion is immoral. This is found evident in speech
among the religious leaders behind and outside of the pulpit. From there it is transferred,
framed, and reinforced to congregation members, and among outside groups who often
solicit help in diffusing the political and/or religious message that abortion is wrong and
legislation must be enacted to stop the "obscene" practice. Himmelstein found that the
majority of anti-abortion sentiments came from people who attended church, as well as
those who were activists against the practice. Values such as preservation of the family
and life were key foundational beliefs one had possibly garnered through religion; but if
not formed first through religion, religion was the catalyst for many to introduce and
reinforce the anti-abortion frames.
Because religion creates meaning for large groups of people it is naturally used as
a resource to mobilize and motivate. Religion provides the motive and the means to
move individuals towards political action. Political ideas come together in religion
through the group/congregation. The American civil rights movement often used two
prominent themes-those that were Christian and democratic. The "prophetic force," a
frame used during the civil rights movement, elevated congregations to political action
through the use of religious rhetoric. An example might be a religious figure proclaiming
to his/her congregation, "Society is not living up to God's requirements!" This is an
example of civil religion (Bellah, 1967) or as Buddenbaum (2002) explains in relation to
the media, "the use of religious institutions as news sources also points to the role of the
press in creating or perpetuating a 'religion of the republic.'" (p. 17). "Civil religion" or
a "religion of the republic" is formed through the used of rhetoric that mirrors shared
religious values (Buddenbaum, 2002).
Religious frames often target culture and society to make a group of individuals
believe they can work together to change an unjust situation. Church, therefore, becomes
the realm where grievances among members are formed because it provides identity and
reinforces meaning. When such grievances become effectively encapsulated they
become part of political life. People will engage in the movement because it has
meaning for them. The political action reinforces that they are doing the right thing
through the religious meanings they have ascribed to; there is the presence of the "good
v. evil" cognitive processes. Finally, people who believe in their group and have
identified with them will contribute what resources they can to the movement. As Wald
(1992) explains, religion provides a vast array of resources that promote collective
action. Such resources include meeting places, formal membership in the church,
organized headquarters, community networks, professional leadership opportunities,
space, and publications. All of these resources reinforce community and identity for the
individual. Therefore, religion develops schema for individuals, through verbal, physical
and symbolic outlets, and moves individuals to political mobilization when such
meanings become threatened.
Lately there have been ample amounts of research suggesting that religion is an
"essential catalyst" for participation in politics. As Scheufele, Nisbet and Brossard note
(2002), "Various claims share the common assumption that religion promotes the
essential components of political participation including motivation, recruitment, and
ability" (p. 300). Scheufele et al. reference several scholars (Leege, 1993; Greenburg,
2000) who have remarked on the importance religion has had in serving as "local access
points to political power" (p. 300). Such scholars have not only suggested that religion is
a marked access point but, more notably, a critical bridge that political elites utilize when
developing campaign themes. As Leege (1993) suggests, such elites often use religion to
provide symbols and imagery in an attempt to make religious rhetoric equal political
One might question, then, what moves an individual to active political
participation? This is an important question when assessing the way political elites have
used religion for political mobilization. Verba, Schlozman, and Brady (1995) define
political participation as an, "activity that has the intent of effect or influencing
government action-either directly by affecting the making or implementation of public
policy or indirectly by influencing the selection of people who make those policies"
(p. 38). The authors continue by suggesting that political participation is voluntary, and
there are three important factors in assessing what moves an individual to participation.
These influential components are resources, networks, and engagement. In addition,
researchers claim that the resources that are most important in psychological engagement
are those that are personal, not socioeconomic (Guth et al., 2003; Verba & Nie, 1972).
For example, Guth et al. (2003) notes that if church membership provides important
interpersonal resources, church leadership would have an even stronger effect on the
individual. Churches often provide all three resources to an individual (Scheufele et al.,
Another cause of political participation is strong attachment to a core set of
beliefs. "Political scientists have long noted that strong partisan attachments and
ideological views tend to stimulate activism" (Guth et al., 2003, p. 507). This stimulation
is expressed in what scholars deem "issue mobilization," political participation that is
directly linked a value system. In recent years, one can suggest that politicians have
framed issues to appeal and activate those who could most easily be issue-mobilized.
Guth, Green, Smidt, Kellstedt, and Poloma (1997) provide an example of this in the
"moral reform" and "social justice agendas" used in recent elections. For example,
ministers have often been mobilized on moral issues such as abortion, gay rights, stem
cell research, and school prayer. Churches then act as important sources for political
information. Many times, religious leaders will contribute by linking faith to particular
political goals and/or issues. "These church-based political communications are usually
framed in moral terms, playing on the religious motivations of parishioners to mobilize
on behalf of the morally correct candidate, cause or issue" (p. 300). Usually, this kind of
rhetoric will end in a call to religious participation; suggesting that voting and other
modes of political participation is simply a call of religious duty (Greenburg, 2000).
Framing political issues to target religious elites has now become a common
practice of politicians and interest group leaders. Because religious elites serve as
opinion leaders to their church and community, they have become an important and
frequent target of outside mobilization (Guth et al., 2003). Conservative organizations
such as the Christian Coalition and Focus on the Family have continuously aimed at
recruiting religious elites. However, recruitment efforts and membership in such
conservative organizations have risen in recent years, suggesting that the mobilization
effort of such groups has proven successful. As Guth et al. (2003) reported in their study
of evangelical clergy in the 2000 election, 30% of the clergy reported membership in at
least one conservative organization, many belonging to multiple conservative groups. In
addition, Guth et al. note that membership in a conservative religious group correlates
positively with political activity, and those ministers who focus on moral questions are
more likely to be involved in the political climate. Thus, it is imperative to recognize the
current role religion has in promoting political activity, and the possibility that political
elites are using religious frames to elicit action.
The media have become an essential vehicle to transmit messages to an audience
that can often result in millions of individuals. Organizations, interest groups and
politicians often vie for favorable media coverage, as the media are used many times as
the carrier of agendas. Recently, the study of media and religion has become a discipline
some scholars are championing as an important field that deserves more research and
attention (Hoover 1997, 2002). Those who study the interaction between the two
disciplines suggest that in analyzing the role religion plays in the postmodern world, one
must look at the media.
Scholarly attention focused on media and religion began accumulating in the mid-
20th century (Hoover, 2002). Parker, Barry and Smythe (1955) published the first
"landmark" study in the field, The Television-Radio Audience and Religion. Since then
the field has looked at televangelism in the 1970s, and in the 1980s and 1990s the field
explored at how journalists (specifically the press) treated and/or covered religion.
Hoover (2002) suggests that there are three paradigms that have comprised the field. The
first of these the author deems essentialismm." As Hoover explains, "It essentialismm]
holds that religion is so intertwined with social and cultural consciousness that
the media of a given age must be necessarily religious in that they will reproduce or
replace ideal forms of practice that we have consensually understood to be typical of true
religion" (p. 26). The second paradigm is entitled "propaganda or effects," which studies
how religious messages might affect a certain audience. Lastly the author suggests that a
third paradigm exists, "social structure or institutional power," which analyzes how
religion might be affected or disadvantaged by the media.
Lyon (2000) argues that communication and information technologies now help
predict the role that religion plays in the contemporary world. Lyon claims that the our
modern world, authority-based sources for identity are starting to fade and are being
replaced by the need for personal identity choice. This is where he places the expanding
role on providing identity for people; thus the importance of the media. Lyon explains
this role by suggesting that the media provide messages through "the reproduction and
multiplication of data and symbols that bring multifarious effects in their wake." The
author continues by stating, "People construct religious meaning from the raw materials
provided by the media, repositioning and patterning the elements according to logics both
local and global, both innovative and traditional" (p. 57).
Another significant reason the media and they relationship with religion is
important grounds for study is in the way important political, social, and religious groups
have mastered the use of media control. As Kimberly Blaker (2003) explains,
The Christian right accomplishes this [shaping public opinion] in several ways.
In addition to its ownership of many media outlets, Christian organizations and
denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention and Catholic League for
Religious and Civil Rights have come to be known for their power over the
mainstream media. They threaten lawsuits and public embarrassment and
participate in letter-writing campaigns. In addition, they boycott companies that
sponsor programs or publications to which the Christian right is opposed.
Through such actions they are able to silence negative publicity and most
programming critical of religion or in direct conflict with their views. (p. 40)
This suggests that religious, political and interest group elites have considerably
heightened their sophistication and use of the media in mediating their message and
agenda. McCune (2003) adds to this argument by stating, "political advocates and social
movements have become increasingly sophisticated at influencing how the media frame
public debates" (p. 7).
Those who study the relationship between media and religion would also note the
important function language plays within both disciplines. "Religion and religious
movements have always been intricately interwoven with culture, and, as any religion
reporter knows, language is a critical component of religion. It is through the symbolic
structure of language that religious meaning must be translated into secular
understanding" (Harding, 2000, p. 253). Those that wish to use the media to translate
religious messages do so through the "language of faith" and provide reinforced
messages for the media to carry.
The way religion is depicted by journalists, either by the way elite messages are
delivered or because the journalist often has the opportunity to construct issue salience, is
significant (Stout & Buddenbaum, 2003). There have always been competing arguments
as to the exact role that the media play in either strengthening or secularizing religious
frames; often it merely depends on the context in which the frame is presented. Olasky
(1990) claims that the press secularizes religion, whereas Silk (1995) assures the reader
that religious values are clearly reflected in frames and reinforced. Issues framed by a
values approach give political groups the chance "to legitimate themselves and to
communicate to others why their choice is more moral or competent than their
opponents" (Ball-Rokeach & Loges, 1996, p. 279). Scholars suggest that value-oriented
language serves a great utility for political groups, because it is understood quite possibly
by the widest range of individuals: those who possess political knowledge and those who
do not. Journalists also are engaged because value issues are understood in lay terms and
often speak to conflict (Ball-Rokeach & Lodges, 1996; Domke, Shah, Wackman, 1998).
Several scholars (Anderson 1970; Berg 1972; Gregg 1977; Kidd 1975) have claimed that
the media, through rhetoric, are able to color cultural and social affairs. Gordon and
Miller (2004) suggest that it is through individual values and those presented in the
media that individuals are able to connect to certain issues and policies. In studying the
role of religion in society, it is imperative to understand and apply the media theory of
Framing literature has become increasingly important to the study of various
disciplines. Within the last decade, the concept of framing has integrated its way as an
important methodological theory of media research. Framing as a theory has not only
gained significance in the field of media research, but has moved into a number of related
fields such as communication, sociology, and political science. Framing, as a theory, has
evolved into a definition that incorporates fundamental techniques to advance rhetoric
and enhance communication. For this very reason, framing literature has become
important to the study of political science. This important field of analysis has opened
the question asked by Reese (2001) "Precisely how are issues constructed, discourse
structured, and meanings developed?" (p. 7). This question is at the heart of what
framing seeks to analyze.
Such explanations assist in understanding the basic foundation of framing and
how it relates to the study of disciplines other than that of the news media. Framing is
much more than a way to analyze how the media project an issue. The issue can be
projected by many other avenues, with the media acting as a mere carrier of the frame.
For purposes of this paper, framing is approached as an effects paradigm, centered on the
audience and the way in which institutions, organizations, or individuals can use framing
and/or frames to assist in mobilizing an audience-thus furthering the objective of
portraying an issues) in a certain light. "Framing is concerned with the way interests,
communicators, sources, and culture combine to yield coherent ways of understanding
the world, which are developed using all of the available verbal and visual symbolic
resources" (Reese, 2001, p. 11).
The following passage by Ryan, Carragee and Meinhofer (2001) allow one to
understand more fully how media frames work within the modern political climate.
In our interventions, we stress that journalistic frames do not develop in a
political or cultural vacuum. They are influenced by the frames sponsored by
multiple social actors, including corporate and political elites, advocates, and
social movements. New stories, then, become a forum for framing contests in
which these actors compete in sponsoring their definitions of political issues. The
ability of a frame to dominate news discourse depends on multiple complex
factors, including its sponsor's economic and cultural resources, its sponsor's
knowledge of journalistic practices, and its resonance with broader political
values or tendencies in American culture. Given the practices of American
journalism and the significance of resources in the successful sponsoring of
frames, framing contests favor political and economic elites. (p. 176).
Reese (2001) explains that there are six components that assist or diminish the
function of framing. The six terms important to understanding the degree to which
framing effects occur are organization, principles, shared, persistence, symbolic, and
structure. The first is especially important for purposes of this analysis; the way in which
framing is organized. As Reese explains, there are two primary ways in which a frame
can be organized: cognitively and culturally. Culturally organized frames are important
to the study of political framing, and later when the analysis of religion will occur. An
example of a culturally organized frame would consist of the rhetoric included in the
current political phrase, "The War on Terror." Framing in this culturally contextual way
seeks towards social mobilization of the audience by infusing rhetoric that implies a
significant problem in the political/national climate of the audience member (Snow &
Benford, 1988). As Gitlin (1980) suggests, frames are a direct result of the societal
ideology; an ideology that subsequently finds itself manifested in the text. Another key
element when assessing frames is the structure in which the frame manifests itself. That
is, framing usually occurs when a set of ideas continually occur while leaving other ideas
out. The presence or absence of information is vital when assessing whether or not
framing has occurred.
As previously noted, framing has recently been applied as a research tool to
disciplines other than news media. Framing theory has especially grown within the study
of political communication within the last few years. As Pan and Kosicki (1993) suggest,
framing has become a strategic plan in the realm of public deliberation. "Public
deliberation, therefore, is not a harmonious process but an ideological contest and
political struggle. Actors in the public arena struggle over the right to define and shape
issues, as well as the discourse surrounding these issues" (p. 36). Framing has been used
in various political endeavors to advance an issue or portray a specific political climate.
This has been used previously as a way to call attention to issues and/or create a set of
values that can be attributed to a particular candidate, political party, and/or organization.
In the same way religious elites have used the media to advance value-oriented language
and promote political agendas in both direct and indirect ways. The constructionist model
of political communication by Neuman, Just, and Crigler (1992) addresses just this: It is
political elites and advocates, the media, and the public who actively construct frames, all
in relation to how they perceive the reality of the issue.
Scholars are beginning to address the relationship between political candidates,
value-oriented language, and the media. Literature has shown that Americans use
personal values to form issue opinions (Brewer, 2002). Research has previously
suggested that "moral referendums," those political issues that are framed by the media
in moral terms, interact with the individual process of candidate choice (Domke et al.,
1998). Literature has shown that Americans use personal values to form issue opinions
(Brewer, 2002). Political issues that become framed in a way which suggests they are
tied to a "core set of values" have been found to "significantly influence voting behavior"
(Brewer, p. 302). Monroe (1995) cited this interaction as a moral "referendum." Domke
et al. (1998) acknowledged that the study of moral referendums interacting with
candidate choice has been widely neglected by political communication scholars.
Therefore, Domke et al. (1998) presented a study that found a correlation between
value framing and candidate choice. "Findings indicate that, in combination, an
individual's interpretation of issues and news media framing influence the type of
decision-making process used, even after accounting for a variety of demographic,
orientational, issue importance, and issue position variables" (Domke et al., p. 301). In
addition, the authors found that "voters with an ethical interpretation of an issue are
motivated to place that issue at the center of their evaluation of a political environment
and to rise their own stand on the issue as a filter through which candidate information is
initially processed" (p. 311).
Another significant aspect researchers (Brewer, 2002; Kinder & Sanders, 1996;
Koch, 1998) have noted is the important function the media has in "connecting" values to
issues. Since individuals often receive competing frames, the individual uses the media
to connect values to issues. Research indicates that value-language on political issues,
translated through the media in news, affects how individuals will describe their own
political position on the issue. Often the language an individual will use is the language
used to initially frame the issue (Brewer, 2002). For example, Brewer (2002) states, "If
exposure to a value frame makes the value invoked by that frame more accessible in
citizens' memories, then people who receive the frame should be especially likely to
recall the value, then they search for words to express their thoughts on the issue" (p.
305). Thus, framing becomes a "symbolic contest" (Gamson & Modigliani 1989) over
which meaning will prevail and be reinforced.
Religious framing, presented in value-oriented and moral terms, has become
essential in the successful reach of a large electorate. Gordon and Miller (2004) express
this by stating, "Whether emphasizing individualism, equality, or some other value, a
fundamental strategy when building a persuasive argument is linking a particular value to
a campaign issue-a process called framing" (p. 73). Rokeach (1973) defines a value as
"an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally
or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode or end-state of existence" (p. 5).
Using values in politics can be very resourceful. Not only does it resonate with a large
segment of society because the language of values is easy to understand, it also unifies
diverse groups of individuals with the ambiguous nature of value appeals (Sillars &
Ganer, 1982). Thus, it becomes easy for both voter and candidate to communicate by
linking values to complex policy issues.
Gordon and Miller (2004) analyzed value-oriented language during the first
presidential debate of 2000 between Bush and Gore. The authors found that numerous
value appeals were present during the debate. Appeals such as "democracy, family,
morality, national security, and the world of beauty" were used by both candidates
(p. 79). An example in how value appeals were constructed can be exemplified in the
issue of abortion. The author concludes, "Gore framed the issue of abortion in terms of
individual freedom, while Bush turned to a morality frame" (p. 87). Many can suggest
that the morality frame proved successful for Bush and was thus continued during the
most recent presidential campaign of 2004. Likewise, McCune (2003) found value-
oriented frames present during the 1996 Tennessee debate over teaching evolution in
public schools. Frames such as family, morality, values were presented by the bill's
supporters, often using the Bible as "a symbol of rightness" (p. 12). Davies (1999)
studied value framing in light of what the author describes as "frame transformation,
frame extension, and frame contest" by examining religious coalitions in Ontario,
Canada, that lobbied the government to fund religious schools. Accordingly, some
scholars argue that whoever most effectively frames a debate will win (Robinson &
As discussed throughout this literature review, media framing can provide for an
important theoretical tool when analyzing the relationship between religion and politics.
Because media is so pervasive, has the ability to reach millions of people
instantaneously, and is relied upon as a source of information, both religious and political
elites must rely on the media to transmit messages and give salience to issues. In recent
years religious and political groups have become much savvier in their knowledge of the
media. This knowledge is essential to successfully infiltrating one's message. In
addition, the major reliance upon television and newspapers in today's modem society
allows the media to become an elite group in their own right. How issues are presented,
what rhetoric is used and how much coverage is allotted to a topic, are all pieces of a
construct that decides what is important in public discourse. As Brewer, Graf and
Willnat (2003) state, "Exposure to media coverage of an issue tends to make that issue
more accessible in people's minds; this heightened accessibility, in turn, increases the
likelihood that people will base subsequent evaluations on their thoughts about the issue"
(p. 494). Through the inclusion and exclusion of words and/or symbols, public opinion
can often be formed and manipulated. By applying framing theory to prominent political
and/or social events, one might better understand why public opinion is as it is. Without
the media, one could assume religion and politics would interact very differently in the
current climate of America's culture. Therefore, one hopes to argue that the disciplines
of religion and politics should pay very close attention to the field of mass
communication, framing theory, and media effects. Conducting studies that regard all
three disciplines as interconnected and often dependent entities could enhance research in
each area and help scholars to better understand the way public opinion is formed.
Framing theory is just one possible way to analyze the relationship between media,
politics and religion; a relationship that should be studied and analyzed significantly
more in the years to come.
Evangelical Christians have presented to the campaign an ongoing strategic
challenge to the GOP (Wald, 1992) in that this segment has often been noted as a base
constituency. This consideration would therefore suggest that the use of strong religious
language and/or frames will be present within the 2004 GOP convention. However, as
seen in the 1992 and 1996 elections, when Republicans lost votes among more traditional
Republicans (The Akron Poll), using such language often threatens votes from more
liberal, mainline protestant Republicans. For example, in 1992 when the rhetoric was
comprised of more "Christian Conservative" language, a substantial segment of voters
were alienated and the Republican Party lost votes. Aware of such previous situations, it
has been suggested that although Karl Rove had every intention of appealing to the
evangelicals, he also worked to keep evangelicals off of prime-time coverage. Thus, this
might be the reason for featuring more "moderate" figures within the convention such as
Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Governor George Pataki, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. These
politicians represent a more moderate segment of the Republican Party, which might be
viewed to appeal to a larger constituency of voters. If this is the case, one might see very
little use of religious language within the frames presented during the convention.
However, the language may be presented in a way that one speech may not be seen as
having heavy or even moderate religious rhetoric, but in frames and, when all the
speeches are compared as a whole, patterns for religious rhetoric may emerge. Therefore
the following research question is asked: Are religious frames present in the 2004
Republican National Convention? If so, to what extent was religious rhetoric
This study employed the methodology of qualitative content analysis to study the
frames present or absent in the 2004 Republican National Convention. As mentioned in
Chapters 1 and 2, the theoretical framework used for purposes of the present study is
framing. Although there are many definitions of framing, the study analyzed framing by
definition as "To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them
more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem
definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation and/or treatment recommendation"
(Entman, 1993, p. 52). By using this definition of framing, the current study assumes
that frames can originate from more than one entity. A frame can be located in the text,
the communicator, the receiver of the message or the culture (Entman, 1993). In analysis
of the 2004 GOP Convention, frames may be present and/or created through visuals,
verbal language (as in convention speeches), and musical performances or in the mere
indirect inclusion or exclusion of ideologies.
Qualitative Content Analysis
As Earl Babbie (2004) states, "Content analysis is particularly well suited to the
study of communications and to answering the classic question of communications
research: 'Who says what, to whom, why, how, and with what effect?'" (p. 314). The
formal definition of content analysis is the "study of recorded human communications"
(p. 314). The nature of the content analysis in this study was qualitative. As scholars
have noted (Dreher, 1994), one of the most important elements in choosing which
research design to use is to select a method that will be consistent in answering the
research question at hand. For this reason, a qualitative analysis was selected for the
ability to best answer the research question at hand. A qualitative analysis allows tone,
themes, catchphrases and sources to all be examined and applied to the larger context of
frames presented. In addition, such an analysis allowed for examination of any possible
meaning construction within the content of the convention and the speeches which were
presented there. Qualitative means have been employed to study the results of content
analysis from the convention coding. Defined by Babbie (2004) and as used in this
study, qualitative analysis is the "nonnumerical examination and interpretation of
observations, for the purpose of discovering underlying meanings and patterns of
relationships" (p. 370). Although there are many strengths of using a qualitative method,
such an analysis is not without weaknesses. As a potential weakness, qualitative analysis
posses the risk that one will be unable to replicate a study, which is often due to the fact
that the analysis relies on the researcher to make various conclusions instead of only
numerical data to provide results.
Unit of Analysis
This study used framing to analyze possible religious frames and value-oriented
language, either the presence or absence, in the 2004 GOP Presidential Nominating
Convention. In order to do this, video recordings taken from C-SPAN were coded and
processed using the computer program SPSS as a means to organize data. Convention
speeches were the unit of analysis.
C-SPAN was chosen as the unit to code over other media entities for its
uninterrupted, commentary-free, video record of the convention proceedings. This study
sought convention coverage most closely representing the convention if one were
actually in attendance. C-SPAN coverage should prove to be the best television-aired
programming to achieve this end. The coding sheet was developed after research in
religious/value-oriented rhetoric. Coding comprised of convention coverage on C-SPAN
during the prime-time viewing hours. Prime-time viewing hours were chosen because
they capture the largest viewing audience tuning-in to convention coverage. A much
larger percentage of individuals watch convention coverage during the prime-time hours
when keynote speeches take place, in relation to daytime convention viewing. Prime-
time viewing hours, for purposes of the current study, began between the hours of 6:oo
and 8:00 p.m. and end at just after 11:00 p.m. Prime-time coverage of the GOP
convention was coded from the following nights: August 30, 2004; August 31, 2004;
September 1, 2004; September 2, 2004.
It is acknowledged that a possible weakness of using C-SPAN convention
coverage is also noted above as the unit's strength. C-SPAN coverage was chosen for the
uninterrupted coverage of the convention that it provides. In light of a framing analysis,
one might suggest that, without commentary, several key frames will not be noted. This
is true if the main focus of this study was media framing in relation to journalists who
cover the news. However, as stated previously, the main objective is to understand the
convention frames put forth by the campaign (political elites), and thus transmitted via
television to a large viewing audience. As mentioned prior, such elites have become
much more sophisticated in using the media to further advance political initiatives,
messages and frames. For this reason, study of the frames presented by the campaign in
the 2004 GOP Convention is pertinent to the study of political and mass communication.
The coding parameters for the C-SPAN coverage included the following
* Speakers Profession
* Role of Speaker
S Location of Speech
S Source of Speech
* Duration of Speech
* Issues Discussed
S Key Phrases/Words used During Speech
* Title of Songs used in Musical Performances
* Reaction Cutaway
These categories allowed the researcher to study not only what issues and/or key phrases
were presented within the speech, but also who gave the speech, where it was given, and
who was shown in the audience when the camera cutaway from a speaker. The presence
or absence of issues and key words within the speech were documented and the number
of times each issue is mentioned was coded. In addition, the total time of the speech, the
amount of time devoted to each issue, and the camera cutaways were entered as data.
Timing the camera cutaways as well as documenting who was shown (i.e., race, gender,
adult, child, military persons) is important when suggesting possible frames. All of these
variables can present and develop frames. In addition, a speaker's credibility, in light of
his/her credentials can often be an important aspect of frame construction, which was
also taken into account. For example, 54% of all musical performances (excluding those
who performed the National Anthem) in the 2004 GOP Convention were done by well-
known Christian artists, who first gained their popularity among the Christian
community. This careful planning could possibly resonate with the voter, especially
those who are Christian and who will recognize such Christian artists. Thus, this
segment of society might take a cue from this, possibly resulting in a vote for President
Inter-coder reliability was obtained in the current study by using two researchers
to observe and code C-SPAN data. "Intercoder reliability refers to the level of
agreement among independent coders who code the same content using the same coding
instrument" (Wimmer & Dominick, 2003, p. 156). Reliability in content analysis is
extremely important and will be treated as such. A lack of reliability within research can
exclude important details or misconstrue information and results. Inter-coder reliability
is essential to construct a study that is valid and reliable. As Babbie (2004) states,
reliability is the "quality of measurement method that suggests that the same data would
have been collected each time in repeated observations of the same phenomenon"
(p. G9). Therefore, the use of multiple researchers was used in coding to achieve
accurate results. Conflicts were reconciled by both coders, hereafter adjustments to
coding were made when necessary. Ten percent of the speeches were chosen at random
for another researcher to code and thus, to achieve reliability.
The present study looked at the use of religious and value-oriented language in
the 2004 Republican National Convention to suggest possible frames. Framing analysis
was employed to study speeches within the convention. A qualitative content analysis
was conducted to study the speeches, while employing framing analysis to thus
understand possible frames in which the campaigns message was constructed. All
quotations from speeches were obtained from C-SPAN.
After all of the coding was completed, data was entered into a SPSS computer
program to organize and analyze data derived from the codebook. The majority of the
data used to suggest frames was compiled into the codebook. However, various notes
were taken throughout viewing the C-SPAN prime-time coverage of the 2004 GOP
Convention in its entirety for those elements such as musical performances, tone, and
interviews from the floor that would not be included within the SPSS data list for
In total there were 62 speeches coded from the sample of convention coverage
this study sought to analyze. Table 4-1 describes how many speeches were given each
night and the distribution of speeches given (Introduction, Main, Transition, Invocation,
When suggesting possible frames for analysis a cross-tabulation was conducted
on the presence or absence of issues correlated to religion. The themes of "Faith in God,"
"Religious Rhetoric" and "Family Values" were used to define the total percentage of
speeches that such issues were present in. As seen in Table 4-2, a significant number of
speeches incorporated the use of one of the following three issues. This suggests that a
message involving religious frames was incorporated in the 2004 Republican National
Table 4-1. Speaker's role
Convention date Total
8-30-04 8-31-04 9-01-04 9-02-04
Speaker's role Introduction 2 3 4 1 10
Main speaker 3 7 8 4 22
Transition 9 6 3 3 21
Invocation 1 1 1 1 4
Benediction 1 1 1 1 4
Other 0 0 0 1 1
Total 16 18 17 11 62
Table 4-2. Issue distribution
% Distribution Issue presence in
Issue speeches (n = 62) speeches
Faith in God 34 21
Religious rhetoric 42 26
Family values 50 31
The percentage does not equal to 100. The number of speeches that an issue
appeared in was divided by the total number of speeches to reach the percentage. Total
issue presence noted the number of times appearing within context of convention
Research question. Are religious frames present in the 2004 Republican National
Convention? If so, to what extent was religious rhetoric incorporated?
Differences in how the campaigns and candidates treated the issue of religion in
the 2004 election year were very stark, with the Republican Convention appearing
at times to be a "praise service," according to religion writer Amy Sullivan,
especially before the prime-time television coverage. The Bush campaign's chief
political strategist, Karl Rove, made no secret of his intent to reach out
aggressively to conservative religious voters. (Wallis, 2005)
The 2004 Republican National Convention, when analyzed for possible frames,
was found to include more than just 9/11 or the current war in Iraq. Held in New York
City during the month of September, and appearing at times to be a memorialized service
to the vast horror and loss of September 11th, 2001, the convention also included rhetoric
deemed ethical values, which "often become most explicitly apparent in discourse about
rights, morals, and basic principles" (Shah, Domke, & Wackman, 2003, p. 227). This
rhetoric was seen in many of the convention speeches.
The convention was divided into four themes-each of which were assigned a
night to represent the convention. These four themes, which were encapsulated by a title
or catchphrase, were shown imprinted on signs given out to delegates, on-screen behind
the podium and incorporated within speeches. According to the 2004 Republican
National Convention Web site, under the section entitled Week in Review, the following
themes were outlined:
S Monday, August 30, 2004-"A Nation of Courage"
* Tuesday, August 31, 2004-"People of Compassion"
S Wednesday, September 1, 2004-"Land of Opportunity"
S Thursday, September 2, 2004-"Safer World, Hopeful America"
Although the rhetoric presented in the speeches could very well be categorized into the
above mentioned titles that were defined by the campaign, the following list presents a
more precise list of frames that were clearly apparent within the speeches and evident
across all four nights of coverage-not constrained to only a specific convention day.
Each of the frames presented use of religious and/or value-oriented language within a
subgroup of speeches to either (a) further the frame or (b) connect the frame to morality,
religious appeal and/or specific values. The following four frames, identified by the
researcher, were presented by the campaign through use of speech text and visuals during
the four nights of prime-time, C-SPAN coverage of the Republican convention and were
identified as the most common dominant frames:
S "Protecting Against Evil, Keeping America Safe"
* "The Republican Party: Encouraging and Defending American Values"
* "The Republican Party: Compassionate Conservatism"
* "The Lincoln Vision, Reagan Vision, George W. Bush Vision."
After identification of the above mentioned frames was defined, an analysis of the
presence and/or absence of religious and/or value-oriented language have been examined.
Protecting Against Evil, Keeping America Safe
Many who viewed the 2004 GOP Convention can attest that the "War on Terror"
was a primary frame exhibited within the construct of the convention as well as within
the rhetoric of a substantial portion of political speeches. Key words such as, "terrorists,"
"terrorism," "Iraq," and "9/11" were frequent. Often such catchphrases were not only
used within the text of the speech but developed into a primary issue the speech was
directed at addressing. The forces of "Good vs. Evil," were often equated to America's
quest to stop terrorism around the world. Within the "Good vs. Evil" construct, one can
find numerous references to America's ideology-an ideology that is based on freedom,
values, and faith. Such references alluded to the notion that America loves freedom and
is serving to protect freedoms at home and fight for the oppressed abroad. One speaker
noted, "We are again engaged in a war that will define the future of humankind.
Responding to attacks on our soil, America has led a coalition of countries against
extremists who want to destroy our way of live and our values" (Silver, GOP
Convention: August 30, 2004). The suggestion was that America is fighting for the
oppressed because of the values Americans hold dear and because Americans are
inherently "good." The "Ideology of Hate" is what is condoned of the terrorists; that such
individuals hate freedom, freedom of religion and all that America stands for.
For example, a speech given on the second night of the convention by Arnold
Schwarzenegger, the Republican Governor of California, said this of Bush,
He [Bush] knows you don't reason with terrorists. You defeat them. He knows
you can't reason with people blinded by hate. They hate the power of the
individual. They hate the progress of women. They hate the religious freedom of
others. They hate the liberating breeze of democracy. But, ladies and gentlemen,
their hate is no match for America's decency. (Schwarzenegger, GOP convention,
August 31, 2004)
At first glance one might not notice the value frame presented within the over-
arching frame of "Protecting against Evil, Keeping America Safe." Out of a total of 16
speeches during the first night of the convention, 50% of those speeches included the
presence of religious rhetoric. This is noteworthy when linking religion to the frame,
"Republicans as Defenders against Evil, Keeping America Safe, because as stated
previously this was the same night titled by the campaign as, "A Nation of Courage"
according to the 2004 Republican National Convention official Web site
(http://www.2004nycgop.org). However, the text does speak to people of faith, as well
as many others as it mentions some very powerful catchphrases. Phrases such as, "power
of the individual," "religious freedom," "democracy" and "America's decency" all allude
to the fight for good and that righteousness will ultimately prevail: America will prevail.
As was stated in a speech given by Ron Silver, "General Dwight Eisenhower's statement
of 60 years ago is true today 'United in this determination and with unshakable faith
in the cause for which we fight, we will, with God's help, go forward to our greatest
victory"' (Silver, GOP convention, August 30, 2004).
Another similar example can be found in the speech text of George Pataki,
Governor of New York who said,
But let me ask you: What is this election about if it isn't about our love of
Freedom? A love for all we are, and can be-for that old Liberty Bell in
Philadelphia, for Constitution Hall, for that island, Ellis Island, where the whole
world's people came to share in our freedom. On this night and in this fight there
is another who holds high that torch of freedom. He is one of those men God and
fate somehow lead to the fore in times of challenge. And he is lighting the way to
better times, a safer land, and hope. He is my friend, he is our president, President
George W. Bush. (Pataki, GOP convention: September 2, 2004)
John McCain actually defined the fight between good vs. evil in a statement
within his speech explaining the fight America is holding against the "terrorists." The
Senator from Arizona made this remark, in which the excerpt reads,
It's a fight between a just regard for human dignity and a malevolent force that
defiles an honorable religion by disputing God's love for every soul on earth. It's
a fight between right and wrong, good and evil" (McCain, GOP convention,
August 30, 2004).
Later in the speech McCain also noted the following,
It's an honor to live in a country that is so well and so bravely defended by such
patriots. May God bless them, the living and the fallen, as He has blessed us with
their service. For their families, for their friends, for America, for mankind they
sacrifice to affirm that right makes might; that good triumphs over evil; that
freedom is stronger than tyranny; that love is greater than hate. (McCain, GOP
convention, August 30, 2004).
Mayor Rudy Giuliani followed McCain and had this to say about freedom as he
described the way in which the terrorists attacked on September 11th and "hijacked not
just airplanes" referring the attack against the American "way of life,"
We stood face to face with those people and forces who hijacked not just
airplanes but a religion and turned it into a creed of terrorism dedicated to
eradicating us and our way of life. Have faith in the power of freedom. People
who live in freedom always prevail over people who live in Oppression. That's
the story of the Old Testament. (Giuliani, GOP convention, August 30, 2004).
Within all of the above examples there is mention of a good and evil force, the
"good" force being the United States and the quest to fight for such goodness around the
globe and in countries where "freedom" does not exist. Some reference to "God" or
"religion" is present within each of these examples, illustrating the use of religious
rhetoric as it applies to the "good vs. evil" construct.
Another way in which religious rhetoric was used within the frame of "Protecting
against Evil, Keeping America Safe," is that of the "Thank God" construct. Several
prominent speakers used this reference when alluding to Republican efforts in keeping
America safe from the threat of terrorism. There are two leading examples that will be
given. The first comes from Mayor Rudy Giuliani who spoke about September 11th, the
days to follow and the "faith and hope" it took to "get through those first hours and
days." He followed by saying, "Spontaneously, I grabbed the arm of then Police
Commissioner Bernard Kerik and said to Bernie, 'Thank God George Bush is our
President. And I say it tonight, 'Thank God George Bush is our President'" (Giuliani,
GOP convention, August 30, 2004). The second example was spoken by Governor Pataki
when he said, "I thank God that on September 11th, we had a president who didn't wring
his hands and wonder what America had done wrong to deserve this attack. I thank God
we had a president who understood that America was attacked, not for what we had done
wrong, but for what we do right" (Pataki, GOP convention, September 2, 2004).
Finally, "America's Saving Grace" construct presents the idea that America is
delivering many people in Iraq from the forces of tyranny that keep them in oppression.
Because of America's fight for Iraqi freedom, hope exists in the hearts of those who live
From my heart, I offer you the traditional Muslim greeting: As Salam
Alikum-Peace be upon you. I am honored to stand here tonight. When I came
to the United States from Iraq 12 years ago, I would never have imagined myself
speaking to a group like this. Living under Saddam Hussein, we could not gather
as we do now to discuss things like democracy and freedom. We could dream of a
day when we could speak freely, and worship God in ways of our own choosing.
(Al-Suwaij, GOP convention, August 30, 2004)
This quote was given by Zainab Al-Suwaij, Director of the American Islamic Congress
during the first day of the convention. This example shows text in which the speaker
makes the appeal that Iraq is better because America is fighting for freedom. It is
because of American efforts to liberate Iraq that there is hope and the ability to "worship
God in ways of our own choosing." George W. Bush touches on this frame when he
concludes, "I believe that millions in the Middle East plead in silence for their liberty. I
believe that given the chance, they will embrace the most honorable form of government
ever devised by man. I believe all these things because freedom is not America's gift to
the world, it is the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world" (Bush,
GOP convention, September 2, 2004). Last but not least, this is illustrated in an
Invocation speech given by Archbishop Demetrios when he said, "We thank you [God]
for the gifts of liberty and prosperity and for the call to be the defenders and promoters of
justice and freedom for all people" (Demetrios, GOP Convention, September 1, 2004).
Republicans as Encouragers and Defenders of American Values
The issue of "Family Values" was seen a substantial amount within the 2004
GOP Convention. Half of all the speeches coded included the presence of "family
values" as an issue, and the issue was prominent on all four nights of the convention
(Table 4-3). The second night of the convention was the dominant night to present the
issue of family values with 67% of the speeches including the presence of this issue.
Table 4-3. Family values/other values
8-30-04 8-31-04 9-01-04 9-02-04 Total
Family Yes 4 12 9 6 31
V s No 12 6 8 5 31
Total 16 18 17 11 62
As had been discussed at length in the Literature Review, value-oriented language
has the ability to resonate and mobilize individuals to action. Thompson (2003) explains
how framing works by stating, "For example, people living in the United States are
familiar with the phrase 'the American dream,' and certain ideas and connotations are
associated with that phrase" (p. 16). The frame, "Encouraging and Defending American
Values," focused on specific issues that were deemed "values" within the 2004 election
cycle by the campaign and often reinforced by media. These include issues such as stem
cell research, gay marriage, and abortion. Another dominant frame within convention
speeches was President George W. Bush's values and his consistency to stay true to what
he believes. For example, Laura Bush said this of her husband, "You can count on him,
especially in a crisis. His friends don't change-and neither do his values" (Bush, GOP
convention, August 31, 2004).
Within the frame "Encouraging and Defending American Values," one can find a
substantial amount of value-oriented language. This language was used often in the
convention and many appeals were made to relate the politician's love, hope and dreams
for his/her family to those of the American citizen watching the convention at home on
television. There were numerous references within speeches of spouses, children, and
grandchildren-the Republican Party was the Party of Family; the Party who has
American families at the heart of their policies. For example Senator Rick Santorum
when speaking about his grandfather stated, "He passed on a wealth of truth to guide us
in life. To love God. To love your neighbor as yourself, and to care for those less
fortunate than you." Zell Miller, a Democrat Senator from George and also a keynote
speaker, made a very serious and passionate keynote address. As Miller states,
Since I last stood in this spot, a whole new generation of the Miller Family has
been born: Four great grandchildren. Along with all the other members of our
close-knit family-they are my and Shirley's most precious possessions. And I
know that's how you feel about your family also. Like you, I think of their
future, the promises and the perils they will face. Like you, I believe that the next
four years will determine what kind of world they will grow up in. And like you,
I ask which leader is it today that has the vision, the willpower and, yes, the
backbone to best protect my family? The clear answer to that question has placed
me in this hall with you tonight. For my family is more important than my party.
There is but one man to whom I am willing to entrust their future and that man's
name is George Bush. (Miller, GOP convention: September 1, 2004)
As explained above, this appeal "the family appeal," was used throughout the
convention and was sometimes followed by strong religious rhetoric. In continuing with
the example above, Miller described within his speech the importance of family. He
stressed that "family is more important than my party" and made the correlation that the
Republican Party had put forth the best candidate to protect the family he holds so dear.
Later in his speech, Miller stated the following of President Bush,
I am moved by the respect he [Bush] shows the First Lady, his unabashed love for
his parents and his daughters, and the fact that he is unashamed of his belief that
God is not indifferent to America. I can identify with someone who has lived that
line in "Amazing Grace," "Was blind, but now I see," and I like the fact that he's
the same man on Saturday night that he is on Sunday morning. He is not a slick
talker but a straight shooter and, where I come from, deeds mean a lot more than
words. I have knocked on the door of this man's soul and found someone home,
a God-fearing man with a good heart and a spine a tempered steel. (Miller, GOP
convention, September 1, 2004)
This is the relationship that speakers often made within the convention speeches.
If family values were mentioned, often either the candidate's relationship to God or the
faith of George W. Bush followed shortly after. Key words or phrases such as "family"
or the "protection of family" fell within a speech text that often made reference to
religion or to God. Lt. Governor Michael Steele of Maryland spoke about the fight
against "poverty, poor education and lost opportunity." From this he mentioned the
struggles for equality and for minority families in which he challenged them to "create
legacy wealth for your children." Directly following this mention of family was religious
rhetoric, this time a quote from Bible explaining that one cannot just have "hope,"
policies must be enacted. Steele said, "As the book of James reminds us, 'it is not
enough just to have faith. Faith that does not show itself by good deeds is no faith at
all'" (Steele, GOP convention, August 31, 2004).
The "Encouraging and Defending American Values" frame also included the
widely discussed issues of gay marriage, abortion and stem cell research. These frames
used religious language or at the very least made reference to the Republican Party and
the defense of such "values" and respect for life. Elizabeth Dole referred to this as a
"moral compass" that leads her party and was one of the most dominant speakers of the
entire convention with regards to the value frame. The theme of Dole's speech revolved
around what are deemed by the campaign as "values" and was very clear about beliefs
regarding the institution of marriage, abortion, and defending religious freedom. As one
will see in the following three excerpts of her speech, "defending" such values is stated
various times as an objective of the Republican Party. This objective becomes a
dominant frame in the convention. The first paragraph touches on the issue regarding
defense of marriage between a man and a woman; the second paragraph discusses "pro-
life" and "the treasured life of faith;" and the third explains the belief in allowing religion
to be involved in the public sphere, where God's name should not be taken from schools,
courthouses or American currency. Dole stated the following,
We [Republicans] believe in the dignity of every life, the possibility of every
mind, the divinity of every soul. This is our true north we believe in life. The
new life of a man and woman joined together under God. Marriage is important
not because it is a convenient invention or the latest reality show marriage is
important because it is the cornerstone of civilization, and the foundation of the
family. Marriage between a man and a woman isn't something Republicans
invented, but it is something Republicans will defend.
We [Republicans] value the sacred life of every man, woman, and child. We
believe in a culture that respects all human life including the most vulnerable in
our society, the frail elderly, the infirm, and those not yet born. Protecting life
isn't something Republicans invented, but it is something Republicans will
defend. We believe in the treasured life of faith.
Two thousand years ago a man said, "I have come to give life and to give it in
full." In America I have the freedom to call that man Lord, and I do. In the
United States of America we are free to worship without discrimination, without
intervention and even without activist judges trying to strip the name of God from
the Pledge of Allegiance; from the money in our pockets; and from the halls of
our courthouses. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom
from religion. The right to worship God isn't something Republicans invented,
but it is something Republicans will defend. These are just some of the principles
that guide our party. (Dole, GOP Convention, August 31, 2004)
This sample from Dole's speech provides one of the best examples of how
religion was used within the frame, "Encouraging and Defending American Values."
Although, several speakers mentioned the hotly contested "moral" issues in the
election-abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research-often it was only briefly spoken
of. For example, Senator Bill Frist, who made a point in his speech to discuss the fact
that he is a doctor, discussed at length President Bush's stance on healthcare. However,
he did briefly discuss stem cell research when he said the following, "An embryo is
biologically human. It deserves moral respect. The President will not use your taxpayer
dollars to destroy human life or create human embryos solely for the purpose of
experimentation" (Frist, GOP convention, August 31, 2004). Not only did this excerpt
address stem cell research, but it also made mention to pro-life values when he said
"destroy human life."
Finally the frame, "Encouraging and Defending American Values," included
those speeches which described the pursuit of the American dream. This key word was
spoken many times within the convention, often by those speakers such as Mel Martinez
and Arnold Schwarzenegger (keynote speakers); individuals who were not born in the
United States but were able reach their dreams because "anything is possible in
America." In Martinez's speech he describes the journey he took to America as a young
child, when his parents decided to send him here, "out of a Communist land," to give him
the chance to live in a country where there is "freedom and opportunity." As Martinez
states near the beginning of his speech,
But, with faith in God, and Faith in a country-that truly stands as a symbol of
hope to people around the world- my family provided me with life in a free and
secure land. Tonight I stand before you-eternally grateful to this nation ...
where dreams come true. I have lived the American dream, and I am determined
to ensure the possibility of that dream for others. (Martinez, GOP convention,
September 2, 2004)
This theme was common, especially when there was mention of minorities or of
immigrants and opportunity. The United States was often referred to as the "Land of
Republicans as Compassionate Conservatives
The term "compassionate conservatism" is something that became widely used by
George W. Bush and the Republican Party in the 2000 Presidential election. Although it
was not as widely used during the election cycle in 2004, it did reinvent itself in the 2004
GOP Convention. There was a theme running through the convention that focused on the
term "compassion." According to Webster's dictionary, "compassion" means
"sympathy." In the convention one might assume that the term was used in this context,
but also in the larger definition of being able to understand other people and identify with
their plight. There were numerous attempts to pull on the heartstrings of the delegates
and the television viewing audience. The second night of the convention was even titled
"A People of Compassion." Not only was the term "compassion" often interweaved
within campaign speeches, signs were distributed with this phrase and it appeared on-
screen behind the podium during most of the second day of the convention, primarily
during and in-between speeches.
Although, the term "compassion" was seen visually on night two, it was used in
speech text and video appeals throughout the entire convention. "Compassion" was used
in several contexts. The term was used often when describing President Bush and his
character. It was also used in describing Republican policies. Finally, "compassion" was
used in the issues that speakers presented such as: the fight against breast cancer,
adoption programs for those who can't have children, HIV/AIDS funding, and faith-
based initiatives. Several video appeals were used to reaffirm the "compassion" of the
Republican Party. The "compassionate conservatism" was chosen as a frame because
value-oriented language and occasionally religious rhetoric was used in conjunction with
the idea of compassion; these two variables seemed tied together (Tables 4-4, 4-5 and
Senator Sam Brownback's speech focused primarily on the issue of HIV/AIDS,
which he described as "the greatest moral and humanitarian crises of our time." In
discussion of the President's initiatives aimed at fighting the disease, the key word
"compassion" was used several times, followed at the end by religious rhetoric. First
Brownback mentions the term "compassion" when he states that President Bush has
"marshaled an army of compassion to combat the disease" (speaking of AIDS).
Brownback continues in discussing the importance of protecting human life and follows
with this statement when addressing why life should be protected,
Why? Because each is wonderfully made, and what we do for the so-called "least
of these," we do for our Creator. We are leading the world in a heroic rescue of
human life. This is the essence of compassionate conservatism. It is the metal of
George W. Bush. (Brownback, GOP convention, August 31, 2004)
Table 4-4. Family values/other values: Compassionate (KW)
% within family values/other values
% within compassion (KW)
% of total
Count 3 28 31
% within family values/other values 9.7% 90.3% 100.0%
% within compassion (KW) 18.8% 60.9% 50.0%
% of total 4.8% 45.2% 50.0%
% within family values/other values
% of total
Note: X2 = 8.42, d.f.=l, p<.01
Table 4-5. Religious values/rhetoric: Compassionate conservative (KW)
Yes No Total
Religious Yes Count 10 16 26
Values/Rhetoric % within religious values/rhetoric 38.5% 61.5% 100.0%
% within compassion (KW) 62.5% 34.8% 41.9%
% of Total 16.1% 25.8% 41.9%
No Count 6 30 36
% within religious values/rhetoric 16.7% 83.3% 100.0%
% within compassion (KW) 37.5% 65.2% 58.1%
% of Total 9.7% 48.4% 58.1%
Total Count 16 46 62
% within religious values/rhetoric 25.8% 74.2% 100.0%
% of Total 25.8% 74.2% 100.0%
Note: p value > 0.5
Table 4-6. Faith/God: Compassionate conservative (KW)
Yes No Total
Faith/God Yes Count 8 13 21
% within faith/God 38.1% 61.9% 100.0%
% within compassion (KW) 50.0% 28.3% 33.9%
% of Total 12.9% 21.0% 33.9%
No Count 8 33 41
% within faith/God 19.5% 80.5% 100.0%
% within compassion (KW) 50.0% 71.7% 66.1%
% of Total 12.9% 53.2% 66.1%
Total Count 16 46 62
% within faith/God 25.8% 74.2% 100.0%
% of Total 25.8% 74.2% 100.0%
Note: p value was not significant
In addition to this example, several other speakers used the word "compassion"
within their speech. For example, Martinez stated: "I believe in George Bush's idea of
'compassionate conservatism.' From the time I first heard him talk about it, I said
'compassionate conservatism is the story of my life" (Martinez, GOP convention,
September 2, 2004). Dole stated, "We [the Republican Party] believe in the
compassionate life of service" followed by several references to 'Love your neighbor'
(Dole, GOP convention, August 31, 2004). Rebetzin Esther Jungreis, Founder of Hineni
New York, spoke of "the healing balm of faith, the magic of compassion and love" in her
benediction speech on Day 2 of the Convention. Santorum said when speaking of
character and values, "As President Bush defines it-Compassion. Remember 'the
greatest of these is love'" (Santorum, GOP Convention, August 31, 2004). Franks spoke
of President Bush and said, "This is a commander in chief who is as compassionate as he
[Bush] is courageous" (Franks, GOP convention, September 2, 2004). Secretary Rod
Paige said, "This election may be multiple choices, but there's only one correct choice.
To go forward, not back. To choose compassion, not cynicism. To set high standards,
not settle for second-best" (Paige, GOP convention, August 31, 2004). These are just
several examples of the "compassionate conservatism" frame and how it was used within
speech text in the convention.
However, "compassion" was often an appeal being used even though the term
"compassionate conservatism" was not present. The theme of compassion was able to
resonate in several other ways during the four days of the convention. For example, a
video following Representative Ann Northup's speech on Day 2 of the convention, that
ran a total of 2 minutes and 46 seconds, featured an emotional appeal about a young
couple who could not conceive a child. The video continued by explaining how George
W. Bush understands how important adoption is and how as President he has provided
resources and programs to make adoptions easier. The couple, while crying, explained
their story of adopting a baby from Guatemala and how they were able to finally start a
family. They exclaimed, "We're a family! We're a mom and dad!"
Issues very dear to many Americans such as breast cancer and the environment
were also given speech time in the convention. As an example speaker Elizabeth
Hasselback spoke of the "war on breast cancer" and said, "Most importantly, help me re-
elect a leader in the fight against breast cancer who does not simply wish this disease
away; he wills it away through action" (Hasselback, GOP convention, August 31, 2004).
Erika Harold, when speaking about faith-based initiatives and volunteering said,
"Although we will never be able to thank all those who waged war against despair, we
are able to join them in their crusade of compassion." She followed by stating this of
faith-based initiatives, "And in the solitary, uncelebrated moments, in a soup kitchen, a
homeless shelter, or orphanage, perhaps we will then truly know what it is to see the face
of God" (Harold, GOP Convention, August 31, 2004). Steven McDonald also spoke
about faith-based groups and community service and said, "Then and especially now, I
have followed St. Paul's guidance that all of us really walk by faith" (McDonald, GOP
Convention, August 31, 2004).
Family and values were also incorporated and linked to compassion. There were
ample examples given, through text and video, of how the President spends time with his
parents, wife, and daughters; how he is a loving and compassionate father. There were
even videos dedicated to the President's dog Barney-called the "Barney Cam." The
idea was to present a very compassionate and family-oriented candidate that could relate
to the average American and his/her family.
The Lincoln Vision, Reagan Vision, George W. Bush Vision
The frame "Lincoln vision, Reagan vision, George W. Bush vision" is the final
dominant frame drawn from the convention that was mostly comprised of values and
religion. In this frame, speakers often mentioned Abraham Lincoln and/or Ronald
Reagan and the likeness toward these individuals that George W. Bush represents. It is
within these frames that comparisons are drawn between President Bush and/or either
Lincoln and Reagan, and often it is during such comparisons that the values and religious
beliefs of these persons are identified. A dominant catch phrase in this convention with
regard to this frame was, "Reagan's 'Shining City on a Hill.'" Several speakers made
mention of this phrase, examples include (a) Steele said, "American remains that place
President Reagan called 'a shining city on a hill;'" (b) Martinez said, "This nation, that is
Ronald Reagan's Shining City on a Hill" later again proclaiming, after addressing the
crowd in Spanish, "In English: My America ... is Ronald Reagan's 'Shining City on a
Often the "Lincoln vision, Reagan vision, George W. Bush vision" frame was
used in reference to "The Grand Old Party" and moral values. Quotes given by Lincoln
were used in speeches when comparing character, values and the decision to go to war.
A good example of this can be seen in a section taken from Elizabeth Dole's speech that
said, "The party of Abraham Lincoln has not wandered in a desert of disbelief or
uncertainty. Led now by President Bush, this Grand Old Party is still guided by a moral
compass, its roots deep in the firm soil of timeless truths. We still believe that character
is king. We saw that lived out in the life of Ronald Reagan" (Dole, GOP convention,
August 31). Another example, as was stated by Izak Mu'eed Pasha during an Invocation,
I am convinced that today the majority of Americans want what those first
Americans wanted, a better life for themselves and their children; a minimum of
government authority. On the farms and on the street covers, in the factories and
in the kitchens, millions of us ... asking nothing more, but certainly nothing less
than to live our lives according to our values; at peace with ourselves, our
neighbors and the world. This comes from May, July 6, 1976 by our late
President Ronald Reagan. May God's peace be on him and his family. (Pasha,
GOP Convention, August 30, 2004)
In many of these attempts the character, values and faith of George W. Bush was
also noted. Franks said speaking of George W. Bush's leadership, "In the years ahead,
America will be called upon to demonstrate character, consistency, courage, and
leadership. Lincoln once said, "Character is like a tree and reputation is like its shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing." Franks ended the speech
with, "God bless our Country and our Commander-in-Chief" (Franks, GOP convention,
September 2, 2004).
This frame was also used in relation to the 9/11, the war against terrorism and
Iraqi liberation. Comparisons about prior wars and the current U.S. military situation
were made, often citing Lincoln and Reagan. The U.S. efforts towards war and liberation
that these previous presidents made were often presented as a possible justification for
the decisions that the current administration has made in dealing with foreign relations.
Laura Bush gave this explanation about her husband's decision to go to war, "No
American President ever wants to go to war. Abraham Lincoln didn't want to go to war,
but he knew saving the union required it" (Bush, GOP convention, August 31, 2004).
Miller said when speaking of those who have earned freedoms on account of war, "Tell
that to the half a billion men, women and children who are free today from the Baltics to
the Crimea, from Poland to Siberia, because Ronald Reagan rebuilt a military of
liberators, not occupiers" (Miller, GOP convention, September 1, 2004). Giuliani noted
after speaking on terrorism, "Ronald Reagan saw and described the Soviet Union as 'the
evil empire,' while world opinion accepted it as inevitable and belittled Ronald Reagan's
intelligence" (Giuliani, GOP convention, August 30, 2004).
The comparisons between the three presidents is an important frame with regard
to religion because it has been widely known that each president-Lincoln, Reagan, and
Bush-have beliefs rooted in Christianity. In discussing Lincoln and Reagan's beliefs
and values, it was eluded that George W. Bush will continue this legacy and lead the
party in the same direction as these two previous presidents. This is one frame that the
convention clearly made apparent and one might assume it was in partial reason to link
the faith of these three presidents. Thomas M. Freiling, who recently wrote a book
entitled George W. Bush: On God and Country also wrote two previous books: (a)
Reagan's God and Country; and (b) Abraham Lincoln's Daily Treasure. All three books
focus on the common denominator of faith in God, which each of these presidents seem
to have shared. In linking these three presidents during the convention, the frame of
"faith in God" was being disseminated (Tables 4-7, 4-8, and 4-9).
Table 4-7. Faith/God: Lincoln/party of (KW)
Lincoln/party of Yes Count
(KW) % within Lincoln/party of (KW)
% within faith/God
% of Total
% within Lincoln/party of (KW)
% within faith/God
% of Total
% within Lincoln/party of (KW)
% within faith/God
% of Total
Note: p value was not significant
Table 4-8. Faith/God: Reagan/party of (KW)
Reagan/party of Yes Count 8 3 11
(KW) % within Reagan/party of(KW) 72.7% 27.3% 100.0%
% within faith/God 38.1% 7.3% 17.7%
% of total 12.9% 4.8% 17.7%
No Count 13 38 51
% within Reagan/party of(KW) 25.5% 74.5% 100.0%
% within faith/God 61.9% 92.7% 82.3%
% of total 21.0% 61.3% 82.3%
Total Count 21 41 62
% within Reagan/party of (KW) 33.9% 66.1% 100.0%
% within faith/God 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
% of Total 33.9% 66.1% 100.0%
Note: X2= 9.01, d.f. =1, p<.01
For example, as was stated by Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, "But it is
the generosity of spirit and strength of our character, molded by the light of faith, that
makes us that 'Shinning City on the Hill'-'For the greatest of these is love"' (Santorum,
GOP Convention, August 31, 2004). "Shinning City on a Hill" was used many times in
the convention. This phrase was coined by Ronald Reagan, as a description of
America-"The Shinning City," while he presided as President of the United States.
Another example is when Reverend Greg Laurie, said the following in his invocation
speech, "In the wise words of Abraham Lincoln, 'We have forgotten You [Lord] and
have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts and all these blessings that we
see in our country were produced by superior wisdom and virtue of our own.' It's true
Lord that we have forgotten you" (Laurie, GOP Convention, August 31, 2004).
Table 4-9. Reagan/party of (KW): Religious values/rhetoric
Yes No Total
Reagan/Party of Yes Count 8 3 11
(KW) % within Reagan/party of (KW) 72.7% 27.3% 100.0%
% within religious values/rhetoric 30.8% 8.3% 17.7%
% of total 12.9% 4.8% 17.7%
No Count 18 33 51
% within Reagan/party of (KW) 35.3% 64.7% 100.0%
% within religious values/rhetoric 69.2% 91.7% 82.3%
% of total 29.0% 53.2% 82.3%
Total Count 26 36 62
% within Reagan/party of (KW) 41.9% 58.1% 100.0%
% within religious values/rhetoric 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
% of Total 41.9% 58.1% 100.0%
Note: X2= 5.20, d.f. =1, p<.05
In addition to the four dominant frames presented by the campaign, all of which
included the use of religious and value-oriented rhetoric, musical performances,
invocations and benedictions were integrated during the four days, tying religion to the
convention and presenting religious frames. The biographies of several individuals and
musical groups show that the campaign was working to incorporate prominent Christian
figures, and the numbers show that is was more than just adding diversity to the
convention line-up. For instance, musical performances have become an important part
of the convention line-up, now offering famous singers and bands performing to endorse
the candidate. A lot of time has been dedicated to the musical performance, with the
2004 GOP convention featuring 13 individual singers, choirs and bands-not including
those who sung the National Anthem each night. The musical performance is often done
to fill time within the convention or as a noteworthy transition among prominent speakers
on prime-time. Out of the 13 artists, 7 artists have gained their popularity in the genre of
Christian music and five were country bands and/or singers. Many of the performers live
or originated from the state of Texas; the state where George W. Bush previously
presided as Governor.
This is important because the Christian artists featured within the convention
were prominent figures within the Christian community such as six-time Dove award
recipient and three-time Grammy nominee Jaci Velasquez, leading Christian rock band
Third Day, and vocalist Michael W. Smith who gave a moving performance to a video
about the days after 9/11, which was aired in its entirety on all networks during prime-
time coverage. Such individuals, even though they might not sing songs about their faith
in God-although many did-resonated with the Christian community and appear as a
credible source. When participating in the convention, such sources are often endorsing
the candidate and may have the possibility of influencing segments of the electorate, in
this case Christians who have already identified with these individuals by listening and
purchasing their music.
The Invocation and Benediction speeches also presented another opportunity in
which religious language and visuals could be incorporated into the convention.
Although it might be common for these types of speeches to have references to God
within them, the tone with which these speeches were given, the amount of religious
language present, and the many camera cutaways to delegates praying was very
substantial. For example, below outlines some of the rhetoric that was presented within
each of these types of speeches during each day.
Invocation and Benediction Speeches
On Day 1 of the convention, New York City police chaplain, Izak-El Mu'eed
Pasha of the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque, said this of God and faith in which he quoted the
Koran during his Invocation speech,
All people be careful of your duty to God, who created you from a single being
and the same created its mates, and spread from these two many men and women.
And be careful of your duty to God by whom you demand one of another, your
rights and the ties of relationships. God watches over you. Over you who
believe, be careful of your duty to God and speak the right words, He will put
your deed into a right state for you and forgive you your faults. Whoever obeys
God and his messenger, will indeed achieve a mighty success. (Pasha, 2004, GOP
Convention, Night 1)
Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Christian Church, after thanking
God for calling on America to be defenders around the world for justice and freedom,
prayed for the leadership of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney
and followed by saying in the Invocation, "For the good of our nation, for the peace and
happiness of the world, and for the glory of Your holy name. For Yours alone is the
dominion, and the power and the glory forever. Amen" (Demetrios, GOP Convention,
September 1, 2004).
Reverend Max Lucado spoke this in his benediction speech, "Oh, Lord, God of
our fathers, You direct the affairs of all nations. You made from one man every nation of
mankind to live on all the face of the earth. We echo the declaration of Job: 'God makes
nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them.' Please guide
us'" (Lucado, GOP Convention, August 30, 2004). In addition to being a pastor, Max
Lucado is a very well-known Christian author, primarily among the evangelical
community. Reverend Greg Laurie, a pastor, author and crusade evangelist, said in his
invocation, "You [God] loved us so much that you sent your son Jesus Christ to
voluntarily die on the cross for our sins, that we will put our trust again that we will be
forgiven. Thank you Lord for second chances" (Laurie, GOP Convention, August 31,
The present study was a qualitative content analysis of the 2004 Republican
National Convention. The Convention was held on August 30 to September 2, 2004. The
analysis used framing theory as a basis for study. Specifically, the study looked at
possible frames which would include religious and/or value-oriented language. "Value-
oriented language," was mention of those issues which were defined by the campaign and
media throughout the election cycle to be targeting the "moral vote." These issues at
times correlated to religious language as they were often talked about within religious
communities and churches. Examples of such issues included abortion, gay marriage,
and stem cell research. Religious frames were looked at in the current study because of
the salience religion was given in the 2004 election. Although the national exit polls are
not without their flaws, one particular poll question piqued a heated debate after the
election. When voters were asked about what "issue" influenced their vote the most
within the election, 22% (which was a majority) said that it was "moral values." Those
that chose "moral values" were 80% more likely to vote to reelect President George W.
Bush. As Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics states,
That poll result has sparked a firestorm in the media and in Washington's political
circles about who gets or doesn't get the moral values issue. The conventional
wisdom claims that the Republicans do and the Democrats don't get it, that the
moral values responders simply meant voters who are against abortion and gay
marriage, and that religious conservatives won the election for George Bush,
which was Karl Rove's strategy all along. (p. xvi)
Statements such as the one above give a general example as to why a study such
as this one is important to research, specifically to religion and media scholars and those
who study political communication. As stated in the Literature Review, the convention is
often the first chance the campaign has to speak with the public at-length. It is an
opportunity to make a first and lasting impression with a substantial percentage of the
electorate (Lowry & Shidler, 1995). Was religious framing, pi e,\eu n ithin the 2004 GOP
Convention? After coding a total of 62 convention speeches, (those speeches including
Invocation, Introduction, Main, Transition, Benediction, Other) one must conclude that
religious and value-oriented language was present, often comprising a large percentage
of the frames presented and that the research question was answered and supported.
Religious rhetoric was present within the dominant frames of the convention.
The purpose of this study was to analyze the 2004 Republican National
Convention's message with regards to religious and/or value-oriented language that
might be present (such language being identified by previous literature, campaign
coverage, and the campaign), to identify the dominant frames within the convention and
the presence or absence of such language within these frames. As stated previously, four
dominant frames appeared throughout the convention, all of which included the message
of faith and values. This study attempted to answer the question, "How did the campaign
use religion and value-oriented language in the convention? Was this rhetoric present
within the major frames presented? If so, to what extent was it incorporated? Using
content analysis, results after coding a combined 62 convention speeches suggest four
main frames within the 2004 Republican National Convention.
The frames identified within the convention consisted of the following:
"Republicans as Protectors against Evil, Keeping America Safe" frame, which consisted
of the "good versus evil" force, in which America was a cause of goodness around the
world. This construct suggested that America is fighting against those who hate freedom,
liberty and the American way of life. This often included language that alluded to the
notion that America has done nothing wrong and that its offenders suffer from an
"ideology of hate" (Schwartzenegger, GOP Convention, August 31, 2004). The frame
also made mention of God, faith and that America has been called upon by God to be
defenders of freedom around the world (Demetrios, GOP Convention, September 1,
2004). The "Republicans as Defenders and Encouragers of Family Values" frame
suggested the campaign was trying to appeal to those who are concerned with the "moral
issues" of the campaign such as, abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, and family.
These issues were presented as issues that "Republicans would defend" (Dole, GOP
Convention, August 31, 2004). Third, the "Republicans as Compassionate
Conservatives" frame played upon the key word, "compassionate conservative," which
was heavily used by the Republican Party in the 2000 Presidential campaign. However,
in the 2004 campaign this frame was often linked to religious rhetoric and Bush's
"compassionate" policies toward issues such as breast cancer, the environment, adoption,
and faith-based initiatives. Finally, the "Comparative Visions: Lincoln, Reagan and
George W. Bush" frame presented comparisons among either Lincoln and Bush or
Reagan and Bush, often quoting Lincoln and Reagan in relation to a characteristic
President Bush was presented to similarly hold. One such characteristic all three
presidents held was a common faith in God.
The limitations of the study include that there were many issues to code within
the convention. Although the codebook was very exhaustive, due to time constraints and
the sheer amount of data that would then be involved, not all the issues candidates
discussed in the convention were assigned as a variable. In addition, though videos
presented in the convention were watched, timed and analyzed for content, they were not
included among the 62 speeches of the convention to compare for issue mentions. The
same was true for musical selections and interviews from the floor. However, these
entities were viewed and included within the paper when necessary to provide framing
Due to the sheer volume of text, visuals, and data that the convention entailed,
various subjects and issues could have been analyzed for possible frames. For example,
the frames presented of minorities, specifically Latinos in the convention. As was
previously stated, time constraints limited this study to those frames that directly
incorporated the use of religious and/or value-oriented rhetoric. Finally, a limitation to
the research was in the actual function of timing issues and counting mentions. Because
many of the speeches cannot be obtained by text to follow when watching the
convention, it is often hard to get an accurate count of every issue mentioned within a
speech text. In addition, timing can become problematic. Making sure that each time
starts and ends on a consistent basis can be difficult. The same limitation applies to
timing camera cutaways. Though inter-subjectivity was used, it is difficult to say whether
an exact replication of the study in its entirety could be achieved.
In addition, it must be noted the amount of time it takes for one to transcribe and
code convention coverage. Roughly 17 hours of convention coverage was viewed.
However, it took an estimated 51 hours to code 17 hours of coverage, about three times
the length of the actual footage.
Future research can investigate the comparisons between the 2000 GOP
Convention and the 2004 GOP Convention with regards to religious frames. This type of
analysis would provide further insight to how the campaign frames their message. If
rhetoric is similar, then one would assume that all of the pre and post election talk about
religion and the GOP's appeal to "moral voters" was overrated. If, though, one sees a
substantial difference in the message strategy and rhetoric in a comparative study of the
2000 GOP Convention and the 2004 GOP Convention, it might be suggested that the
campaign was in fact trying to specifically appeal to the evangelical community during
the 2004 Presidential campaign.
Another suggestion for further research is a comparative study between the results
found in relation to religious frames in the 2004 GOP Convention and that of the 2004
Democratic Convention. It would be interesting to see if religious rhetoric was
substantial in comparison to the Republican Convention. Future Research might also take
this a step further and compare the Democratic Convention of 2000 to that of 2004.
Finally, further research may want to compare the term "compassionate
conservatism" for the suggested message it alluded to within the 2000 Republican
National Convention with that of the 2004 Republican National Convention. One might
see that there is indeed a difference in the way the phrase "compassionate conservative"
was used. It would be interesting to see if the term carried more religious tone in the
2004 convention as compared to the 2000 convention when it was used heavily by
Republicans and the campaign to elect George W. Bush for President.
CODING PARAMETERS FOR C-SPAN COVERAGE OF THE
2004 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
< 1> Politician/Congressman <16> State Worker/Police
<2> Politician/ US Senator <17> State Worker/Fireman
<3> Politician/State Representative <18> State Worker/Other
<4> Politician/Mayor <19> Entertainer/Actor-Actress
<5> Politician/Governor <20> Entertainer/Christian Perff.
<6> Politician/Cabinet Member <21> Entertainer/ Country Perf.
<7> Politician/State Senator <22> Entertainer/ Gospel Choir
<8> Politician/ GOP Official <23> Entertainer/ Comedian
<9> Politician's Family/ Wife <24> Blue Collar Worker
<10> Politician's Family/ Child, Children <25> Housewife
<11> Family/Other <26> Business Person/CEO
<12>Educator <27> Child
<13> Clergy/Minster <28> Author
<14> Clergy/Rabbi <29> 9/11 Victim
<15> Clergy/Other <30> Other
Role of Speaker Time
<2> Main Speaker
<3> Transition Speaker
Location of Speech
<1> Convention Hall
Source of Speech
<1> Live Convention Center
<2> Live Satellite
Duration of Speech
<1> September 11th
<4> Affirmative Action
<11> Healthcare/Prescription Drugs
<16> War in Iraq
<17> Social Security Programs
<18> Social Security Privatization
<19> Social Security Funding
Time in Seconds
<22> Stem Cell Research
<23> Homosexual Equality
<24> Gay Marriage
<25> Civil Unions
<27> Partial Birth Abortion
<28> Abstinence Programs
<33> Family Values/Other
<34> Political Parties/GOP Efforts
<35> Political Parties/GOP Efforts
<36> Political Parties/Lack of
<38> Employment/Equal Opportunity
<39> Social Concerns/Drugs and Alcohol
<40> Social Concerns/Teen Pregnancy
<41> Social Concerns/ Crime
Time in Seconds
<42> Social Concerns/Housing
<43> Social Concerns/Unemployment
<44> Social Concerns/Religious Values
<45> Social Concerns/Moral Values
<46> Social Concerns/ Family Values
<47> The Integrity of the President
<48> Diversity/Bringing Americans
<49> Taxation/Less Taxes
<50> Patriot Act
<51> Kerry Attack
Time in Seconds
# of Times
Key Phrases/Words Used During Speech
<1> September 11th
<2> International Relations
<4> Brothers and Sisters
<5> Party of Lincoln
6> Ronald Reagan/Party of
<7> No one will be left out
<7> No child will be left behind
<8> Pray for our troops/military
<9> God Bless America
<10> Moral Values
<11> Family Values
<12> The Faith of our President/Bush
<13> Faith in our President/Bush
<15> War in Iraq
<16> God Bless
<17> A Safer America
<18> Mighty Power
<19> Hope for Tomorrow's Future
<21> Support our troops
<22> A Nation of Courage
Key Phrases/Words Used During Speech
<23> People of Compassion
<24> Land of Opportunity
# of Times
Reaction cutaway used when speaker makes reference to family or moral values
# of Times # of Seconds
<1> Wide shot of crowd
<2> Medium Shot of Crowd
<3> Close-up of Crowd
<4> Close-up of Minority Male
<5> Close-up of Minority Female
<6> Close-up of White Female
<7> Close-up of White Male
<8> 2-Shot of Male and Female
<9> 2-Shot of Adult and Child
<10> Pan of Audience
<1 1> Shot of American Flag
<12> Shot of Clergy/Priest
<13> Shot of Celebrity Guests
<14> Shot of Military Persons
<15> Shot of Police/Firemen
<16> Shot of First Lady
<17> Shot of First Lady with Daughters
<18> Shot of Political Couple
1. Name of Speaker: Please write name of speaker.
2. Day: Indicate day of convention.
3. Speaker's Profession: Circle category which best represents speaker. If coder
cannot determine speaker's profession indicate "Other."
4. Speaker's Role: Determine from observation the role of the speaker. There are six
categories for "Speaker's Role." These include, Introduction, Main, Transition,
Invocation, Benediction and Other.
5. Location of Speech: Circle location of speech. These categories include,
6. Convention Hall, Church, School and Other.
7. Source of Speech: Circle one of the following choices, Convention Center,
Satellite or Videotape.
8. Duration of Speech: Code for length of speech in minutes and seconds. Times will
9. Issues Discussed: Please circle the appropriate number and indicate length of time
that issue was discussed. If issue was mentioned more than once, code
10. Key Phrases: Circle appropriate terminology used and the number of times used
by a speaker within a speech.
11. Camera Shot: Camera shots have been separated into type. Circle the correct
camera shot used during the speech. Indicated the number of times that shot was
used and the number of seconds for those cutaways. Times are cumulative.
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