Civil Religion and American society: The Possibility of a Prophetic National Faith in America
This study was motivated by the concern that the United States has been consistently diverging into opposing camps over issues related to domestic problems. Individuals in American society divide into, and identify with, exclusive communities like political parties, religious denominations, and ethnic and racial groups. I believe a distancing from the notion that this country is an inclusive, all-encompassing community of its own, has had detrimental effects on our ability to come together and solve domestic problems. My initial goal is to identify a nation as a large community consisting of the citizens of that nation. Secondly, I observe the way each community, even a national community, has an identity founded in the belief system of that community. The values and loyalties of a nation are encompassed in this worldview, which also serves to prescribe legitimate activity for this community. This worldview has been defined as a civil religion or national faith. Following descriptions of the types of civil religions, is an analysis of the manner in which civil religion functions in society. Lastly, this section outlines the type of civil religion most constructive for American society. By using Lyndon Baines Johnson's Presidency and administration as an example, I have presented a model of the way American civil religion can function to dictate political action that is in accord with American's transcendent values. The example of Johnson also exhibits the possibilities of a rebirth or reclaiming of the American principles of community and covenant. The conclusion of this work is a discussion and reflection about the possible benefit this civil religion could have on America's apparent path of division. I believe the American civil religion is a constructive model for creating a united coalition to solve our domestic problems.
© Copyright 1994 Carrie F. Phillips