Americans believe in freedom, individual rights, and free enterprise.American flags and monuments proudly display American heritage and pride.
Americans believe in freedom, individual rights, and free enterprise.American flags and monuments proudly display American heritage and pride.They are able to work for the common good when submitted to the rule of law, and work to change unjust laws.
Everyone has to decide for themselves how to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar” in those situations.
Nevertheless the fact remains that symbols and rituals of civil religion are powerful.
They are referring to a divine, transcendent being, but they are not referring to the God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
At one time in my life I assumed the expressions of civil religion in public life were nothing more than sentimental tips of the hat to the religious segment of the American public.
In 2010, I had a friend who attended Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Hope” rally in Washington DC.
My friend was all exited about all the talk he heard about spiritual awakening.As I have matured in the faith, I have abandoned that assumption.The symbols and rituals of American civil religion are not token props within American society.There we find songs and rituals reinforcing the American identity.At the last NFL game I attended, we were asked to stand before the singing of the national anthem.These are just a few of the values within American civil religion that reveal its usefulness.The Christian religion became a treasure trove of language, narrative, and metaphors from which American founders could draw upon to write and speak about the formation of a new republic.He concluded his address as many modern presidents have, with the phrase, “God bless America.” From Washington to Trump, American presidents have used words and images drawn from the Christian faith without grounding them in specific, and exclusively, Christian doctrines.Robert Bellah points out that the early American leaders did not intentionally leave out more explicitly Christian language in their speeches because they were afraid to offend the non-Christian minority of their day.While some would argue that the separation of church and state prohibits the commingling of religion and civic governance, we only have to look at the recent presidential inauguration for examples of American civil religion on public display. Citizens of a given nation need a certain set of values and principles to keep them together, to keep them from fighting and ripping the nation apart.Civic religion offers shared values and certain practices or rituals that reinforce those values.