Signe Sloth


religion, self-understanding, culture, history


In 1967 an article was published which kick-started a discussion that is still going on among sociologists today. The subject of the article is American civil religion and the writer is the American sociologist Robert Bellah who claims that every nation and every people has a religious self-understanding. He advocates an American civil religion that is separated from other denominations and established religious institutions, but just like them demands recognition and understanding. Bellah defines this Civil Religion as " ... A genuine apprehension of universal and transcendental religious reality as seen in or . . . as revealed through the experience of the American people.1 His main argument is that in every inaugural address by any American president you can find a reference to God. This is not a specific god, but because God is a concept that almost everyone can relate to, whether it being the Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish god, it is a reference that leaves no one out. And that is the main point of the concept that Bellah named American civil religion: To find a common ground that will help to unite the people of a nation. And this is part of the theme of this essay.