U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Ray Haberski, "God and War: American Civil Religion Since 1945"

It is my pleasure to announce that regular USIH blogger Ray Haberski’s new book, God and War: American Civil Religion Since 1945, is now published. Congratulations Ray! 
Abstract: Americans have long considered their country to be good—a nation “under God” with a profound role to play in the world. Yet nothing tests that proposition like war. Raymond Haberski argues that since 1945 the common moral assumptions expressed in an American civil religion have become increasingly defined by the nation’s experience with war. God and War traces how three great postwar “trials”—the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the War on Terror—have revealed the promise and perils of an American civil religion. Throughout the Cold War, Americans combined faith in God and faith in the nation to struggle against not only communism but their own internal demons. The Vietnam War tested whether America remained a nation “under God,” inspiring, somewhat ironically, an awakening among a group of religious, intellectual and political leaders to save the nation’s soul. With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 behind us and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, Americans might now explore whether civil religion can exist apart from the power of war to affirm the value of the nation to its people and the world.
Blurbs: “The idea that America has a civil religion has a notoriously slippery history. Raymond Haberski, Jr. gives us a wonderfully lucid and keenly perceptive account of how this idea has been variously appropriated and refashioned since World War II.” (Gary Dorrien Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University)
“A self-proclaimed ‘nation under God,’ the United States has a pronounced affinity for war. In this illuminating and important book, Raymond Haberski explores the intimate and largely pernicious relationship between these two abiding aspects of American identity.”(Andrew J. Bacevich Boston University)
God and War perceptively reveals the component parts of America’s civil religion since 1945. It is a troubling story steeped in a mythical idea that the nation’s violence was blessed by God.” (John Bodnar author of The Good War In American Memory )
“The best book on American civil religion since The Broken Covenant. Haberski takes us up to the present day, illuminating how times of war can both summon and distort civil religion.” (Philip S. Gorski Yale University )