First Advisor

Robert Magnusson


Allison Peters


Regis College

Degree Name



Peace and Justice

Department (optional)


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

173 pages


Using ideographic critique as a subset of rhetorical analysis, this paper critically examines the efficacy and ethicality of American Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) in international aid and development. Through tracking case studies both domestically and abroad, this thesis evaluates the very real impacts that development efforts imprint on vulnerable populations by exploring questions of coercion and constitutive rhetoric. This thesis begins by providing a robust overview of ideographs and constitutive rhetoric as defined by scholars McGee, Cloud, Conduit, Luciates, and Charland then pairs this methodology with coded data taken from a sample group of some of the most prominent FBOs in the world. Highlighting ideographs like “development,” “stewardship,” and “family values” I follow three distinct narratives to trace the root cause of structural violence enacted against the LQBTQIA community in Uganda and negative side effects of unexamined “voluntourism.” My findings build on recent mentalities in development literature (referencing cycles of dependency and neo-colonialism), trace the identity creation of the Religious Right in American politics, document the rapid rise of state-funded FBOs, and deconstruct the rhetorical myth that “Homosexuality is un-African.” Ultimately, I argue that the terms “FBO,” “Religious Right,” and “Christian” have become ideographs unbeknownst to the American public. As a result of this, these groups which ironically possess the best intentions to “help” and “save” others have inadvertently done more harm than good by adopting damning rhetoric.

Date of Award

Spring 2018

Location (Creation)

Denver, Colorado

Rights Statement

All content in this Collection is owned by and subject to the exclusive control of Regis University and the authors of the materials. It is available only for research purposes and may not be used in violation of copyright laws or for unlawful purposes. The materials may not be downloaded in whole or in part without permission of the copyright holder or as otherwise authorized in the “fair use” standards of the U.S. copyright laws and regulations.