Night and Day: An Illustration of Framing and Moral Foundations in the Oklahoma Shariah Amendment Campaign
Bowe, B. J., & Hoewe, J. (2016). Night and Day: An Illustration of Framing and Moral Foundations in the Oklahoma Shariah Amendment Campaign. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 967-985.
Summary: In this article, Bowe and Hoewe discuss a content analysis they conducted on letters to the editors of The Oklahoman and The Tulsa World between June 1, 2010 and December 31, 2012 regarding Oklahoma’s “Save Our State” amendment in 2010. This legislation intended to “…[forbid] courts from constructing rulings based on ‘Sharia Law,’ which was defined as Islamic law ‘based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed’ (Oklahoma State Election Board, 2010)—even though there were no known cases of Oklahoma courts basing rulings on Shariah” (Bowe & Hoewe, 2016). Similar laws have been passed in several states across the nation out of fear that Islamic law poses a threat to the moral standards in the United States, claiming that it takes on a doctrine of “world domination” (2016). Moral Foundations Theory was used to analyze the letters and the media’s facilitation of discussion regarding Islam, resulting in the determination of three morality-based frames including a “Patriot frame emphasizing Shariah’s harms, a Heritage frame advocating loyalty to the American Way, and a Golden Rule frame promoting equal treatment of Muslims” (2016). The letters were subsequently coded utilizing the Moral Foundations Dictionary as a reference. Each moral frame was analyzed according to associated key words, including areas such as care, fairness, loyalty, authority, degradation, etc. (2016). The Patriot and Heritage frames consisted of pro-amendment letters, while the Golden Rule consisted of anti-amendment letters (2016). A cluster analysis was leveraged “to disentangle some of the nuance beyond a simple examination of the pro- or anti-issue stances” (2016). They found that 73% of the letters supported the amendment, which is unsurprising since the amendment passed with 70% of the vote (2016). In conclusion, they found that moral arguments may be influential for those on one end of a political spectrum, while the other side may hold on more closely to political ideologies (2016).
Summary written by Debra Mason.