Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

2002

Publication Source

Journal of Communication and Religion

Volume

25

Issue

1

Start Page

21

Last Page

33

Abstract

Rod Hart's rhetorical notion of civic piety is hard pressed to explain what makes U.S. civil religion so compelling that citizen believers will offer their lives to it on a well-defined ritual occasions. I propose that U.S. patriotism is a full-blown religion defined, like all religions, by a transcendent god of principle with the authority to deal life and death to its own believers. The nation as the transcendent god principle that demands the sacrificial offering of believers' lives s the basis of patriotism. It follows that patriotic rhetoric alone without citizen obligation and commitment to the act of bodily sacrifice would be indistinguishable from advertising. I discuss the relationship of civil religion to antecedent religious traditions and, what seems at first glance to be an anomaly, why the sacred status of U.S. nationalism is regularly concealed or denied in official and unofficial rhetoric.

Keywords

Patriotism, nationalism, civil religion, sacrifice, ritual

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Date Posted: 28 September 2010

This document has been peer reviewed.