American Civil Religion

GENINT 711.398

Osher (50+). In this course, we trace the origin and development of America's civil religion.


About this course:

 In 1967, an American sociologist named Robert Bellah published an article claiming that—alongside churches, synagogues, mosques and temples—there also existed “an elaborate and well-institutionalized Civil Religion in America.” He observed that Americans embrace a common civil religion with certain fundamental beliefs, values, holidays and rituals in parallel to, or independent of, their chosen religion. Since his time, the term and its study has flourished; American Civil Religion is today an academic tool in understanding what was and is the United States of America. We are now the midst of an election period that has and will demonstrate the very basic beliefs, rituals, practices and more in Civil Religion. Cults have arisen, archetypes of the perfect white American man are being scrutinized and whatever the result of this election, one can better understand both the lead up to the election and its consequences. In this course, we explore the historical roots of American Civil Religion, beginning with its origins in Europe and its development in the new world. As with any religion, we deal with the religious archetypes and structures—cosmogonic myths, creation myths, prophets, martyrs, holidays, sacred land, sacred texts and more. This is a fruitful time to  begin an understanding of U.S. Civil Religion in action. This course uses the Hybrid format which allows students to participate remotely and/or in the classroom. This course will be recorded. Students will have access to videos for the duration of the course.

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