What does it mean?
The concept of ‘civil religion’ (sometimes referred to as ‘civic religion’) was developed by the US sociologist Robert Bellah (1967). Bellah believed that the USA had produced a civil religion in which the nation served as the focus of citizens’ beliefs and loyalty. ‘Beliefs, symbols and rituals’ (such as belief in the ‘American way of life’, the stars and stripes flag and the ritual of presidential inauguration) created this sense of belonging and loyalty to the USA for its citizens. Following on from Durkheim’s idea that religion integrated society and was based on a belief in sacred objects, Bellah saw ‘civil religion’ as having similar functions to a conventional god-focused religion. It united Americans and it created sacred objects which people regarded with awe and veneration (such as the American Constitution).
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