Rhetorical Analysis of Robert Bellahs Civil Religion

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  • Topic: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Sociology of religion, United States
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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 growth and

new insight". Bellah's motive is to inform about what civil religion is and what it means to

follow it's faith hoping to bring others into the fold and even bring in insight and new ideals that

can help to adapt it to the modern world. Robert Bellah doesn't belittle other religions and say

that following the divine government is better he simply wish to information about how all

through time America has been in development of this new and unique religion. As his call to

write was stated in the finishing lines of this article so is Bellah's thesis of purpose stated in the

beginning, "...there actually exists alongside of and clearly differentiated from the churches and

elaborate and well-institutionalized civil religion in America. This article argues that not only

that there is such a thing, but also that this religion- or perhaps better this religion dimension-

has it's own seriousness and integrity and requires the same care in...
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