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Religion and Progressive ActivismNew Stories About Faith and Politics$
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Ruth Braunstein, Todd Nicholas Fuist, and Rhys H. Williams

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479854769

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479854769.001.0001

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Reviving the Civil Religious Tradition

Reviving the Civil Religious Tradition

(p.271) 12 Reviving the Civil Religious Tradition
Religion and Progressive Activism

Philip S. Gorski

NYU Press

Philip S. Gorski’s chapter provides historical context for progressive religious groups’ use of civil religious rhetoric. Through an analysis of Barack Obama’s efforts to resurrect the civil religious tradition during his two campaigns and terms as president, this chapter revisits and reconstructs the vision of American civil religion that was originally advanced by Robert Bellah in 1967. The chapter shows that the American civil religion is woven out of two main threads: the prophetic religion of the Hebrew Bible and an Anglo-American version of civic republicanism. It also distinguishes the civil religious tradition from its two main rivals: religious nationalism and radical secularism.

Keywords:   rhetoric, American civil religion, Barack Obama, Robert Bellah, prophetic religion, Hebrew Bible, civic republicanism, religious nationalism, secularism

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