Open MINDS Institute
Aaron Q. Weinstein, PhD
“One Nation Under God? Civil Religions in Uncivil Times”
Until relatively recently, phrases like “God Bless America” or “One Nation Under God” seemed to be uncontested dimensions of what scholars call America’s civil religion (ACR). By this, they mean the assortment of beliefs (like in democracy), symbols (like the flag or Constitution), and rituals (like the Fourth of July) that connect Americans to each other and to the nation. But generations of political and religious polarization appears to have frayed the very fabric of this civil religion. The right is becoming increasingly religious and conservative, and the left is becoming increasingly secular and liberal. Simply put: we don’t all agree anymore. In such a world, can there be a single civil religion in the United States, as we once thought?
Dr. Aaron Weinstein suggests that civil religions are living, breathing belief systems that result from the mixing of Americans’ religious and political worldviews. As those worldviews change, especially during today’s hyperpolarization in religion and politics, we should expect to find different civil religions. And we might agree there are possibly more alternatives. In this wide ranging, interactive discussion with the class, we explore how civil religions are the combination of religious and political worldviews.