Rhetorical Analysis of
Civil Religion In America by Robert H. Bellah
Robert N. Bellah "Civil Religion In America" was written in the winter of 1967 and is
copyrighted by the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences from the issue
entitled "religion in America". In his writings Bellah Explains the idea and workings of Civil
Religion in the United States; this chapter was written for a Dædalus conference on American
Religion in May 1966. It was reprinted with comments and a rejoined in The Religious Situation.
Civil Religion is the idea that our own government has its own Devine right of worship and is
parallel to the writings of the Bible. It's the concept that the United States is its own religion as
a form of Christianity complete with its own form of life beyond, rewards of virtue, and the
punishment of vice, and the exclusion of religious intolerance. But in order for a religion to be
plausible and become a success it needs a number if pivotal points that juxtapose some form of
existing religion. Abraham Lincoln was our Jesus messiah sacrificing himself for freedom and
new beginnings wail Washington is the Moses leading the people out of captivity; our sacred
documents like the old and new testaments are the constitution and bill of rights, The ritual
dates are the fourth of July and labor day. Civil religion even has it's own monuments,
Commandments, guideline and followers.
Civil religion is a highly discussed topic in American history with many sides and many
views. One of the most dominant for civil religion is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, arguably the most
influential political philosopher of the last three centuries and whom Bellah bases much of his
findings on. Rousseau is viewed as almost a profit of the new religion and is placed here to
spread its word. And of corse like any new emerging idea it's main antagonists are Christian
followers who that see no connection the bible and the US at all. The idea of Civil religion is
enforced by the fact that throughout the history of the US every president has made some
reference to God is speeches, in writings, even in their dedication to their own religion. Also the
hundreds upon thousands of writers and speakers that have written or spoken on the tragic and
monumental evens in the life of the US are pulled in to help amplify the importance and
existence of pivotal events in the Civil Religion's time line.
Robert Bellah's intentions for writing this are simple, he has found a faith that he
believes in and is defending it against those who wish to discredit it. As he states in the end of
his writing, "Civil Religion has often been used, and is being used today as a cloak for petty
interests and ugly passions. It is in need- as is every living faith- of continual reformation of
being measured by universal standards. But it is not evident that it is incapable of...