The intent of this exploratory, descriptive narrative inquiry was to understand the experiences of selected evangelicals serving as public school administrators who lead in the midst of skirmishes involving evangelical Christians and the local public schools where they serve. These conflicts are part of the larger cultural conflict between evangelical Christianity and public education. The narratives of five leaders were captured through semi-structured, in-depth interviews. The purposeful sample of participants included administrators from Texas, Southern California, and the South, the Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest. Each participant shared a skirmish story and its cultural and geographic context. In the process, work-faith relationships and the inner world of each administrator were also illuminated. Re-storied narratives were crafted and themes that emerged both within and across the stories were identified. The narratives were viewed through the lenses of culture war theory, role conflict theory, faith-work models, moral narratives theory, and wounding in leadership theory. Based upon that analysis, other theories are suggested as potentially useful. Dominant factors in the conflicts, such as the significance of geographic and cultural location, the role of fear in evangelical culture, and tension between the work of service and proselytizing among Christians in public schools are discussed. Further research is suggested to uncover other narratives of leadership in culture war conflicts, explore the role of faith in decision-making by school administrators, consider the role of faith in community development approaches to school improvement, and specific issues such as homosexuality, women in leadership, and the interplay of faith and race.
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Sehorn, G. F. (2015). A Narrative Inquiry Into the Experiences of Evangelical Christians Leading in Public Schools During Culture War Skirmishes [Doctoral dissertation, Bethel University]. Spark Repository. https://spark.bethel.edu/etd/575