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Philip Gorski

The Myth of Civil Religion

Does civil religion even exist? For many scholars who have addressed this strange beast, the answer comes down to whether civil religion has empirical value; in short, whether civil religion acts like a set of laws, standing as a lodestar for generations of people who live under it.  The notion that civil religion functions in this way stems primarily (though somewhat mistakenly) from Robert Bellah’s influential 1967 essay, “Civil Religion in America.” In that essay, Bellah famously suggested that “American civil religion is not the worship of the American nation but an understanding of the American experience in the light Read more