Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)




Religion and politics have been intertwined throughout the history of the United States, starting from the Colonial period to the present. In this study, I argue that the manipulative use of certain religious morality under the guise of objectivity and universality is a threat to individual freedom and democracy. The privileged discourse of religious morality in the context of politics helps maintain and reinforce the patterns of domination and subordination in society. This dissertation analyzes the relationship of the categories of ‘moral’ and ‘ideological’ in the writings of ethical and political critics such as Wayne Booth, Martha C. Nussbaum, Irving Howe, and Frederic Jameson.

In this study, I present textual analyses of four American social novels—Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Rebecca Harding Davis' “Life in the Iron Mills,” Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward and John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath—employing historical, social, political, and rhetorical interpretative strategies. I argue that the use of religious language and imagery in the context of their political arguments helps maintain the status quo rather than promoting social change towards freedom, justice, and equality.

This dissertation reflects my belief that exploring these ideas and exposing the ideologically manipulative use of religious morality in selected American political novels help us understand our past and function as a warning in the present. Drawing from my observations of Turkey and the United States, I conclude my argument with a call towards a secular humanist politics to protect democratic values.