Degree Name

MALS (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies)


Liberal Studies

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Dr. Jill Leroy-Fraizer

Committee Members

Dr. Cher Cornett, Dr. Keith Green, Dr. Tess Lloyd


The National Geographic Channel’s miniseries “Snake Salvation” resurrected a vested interest with the heavily documented practices of signs-following believers in central Appalachia. The current body of scholarship surrounding these congregations focuses mostly on oral history narratives and explanations of religious fundamentalism; a critical analysis of the discourse shared by these congregation members is noticeably absent.

This thesis explores selected interviews with George Hensley, Andrew Hamblin, Jamie Coots, and Alfred Ball through the interdisciplinary application of discourse analysis paired with social disclosure theory to unveil the underlying struggles with power and personal beliefs expressed by each pastor. The research performed throughout this study spans interviews collected and published from the 1940s to 2014. Through a discourse analysis performed on these interviews coupled with support from sociological and communicative theoretical frameworks, this study looks to highlight struggles with power and authenticity present for signs-following pastors.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.