A world civil religion could be accepted as a fulfillment and not as a denial of American civil religion. Indeed such an outcome has been the eschatological hope of American civil religion from the beginning. To deny such an outcome would be to deny the meaning of America itself.
Robert N. Bellah
A World Civil Religion
Topic: Society & Civil Religion
“Out of the first and second times of trial have come, as we have seen, the major symbols of the American civil religion. There seems little doubt that a successful negotiation of this third time of trial–the attainment of some kind of viable and coherent world order–would precipitate a major new set of symbolic forms. So far the flickering flame of the United Nations burns too low to be the focus of a cult, but the emergence of a genuine transnational sovereignty would certainly change this. It would necessitate the incorporation of vital international symbolism into our civil religion, or, perhaps a better way of putting it, it would result in American civil religion becoming simply one part of a new civil religion of the world. It is useless to speculate on the form such a civil religion might take, though it obviously would draw on religious traditions beyond the sphere of biblical religion alone. Fortunately, since the American civil religion is not the worship of the American nation but an understanding of the American experience in the light of ultimate and universal reality, the reorganization entailed by such a new situation need not disrupt the American civil religion’s continuity. A world civil religion could be accepted as a fulfillment and not as a denial of American civil religion. Indeed, such an outcome has been the eschatological hope of American civil religion from the beginning. To deny such an outcome would be to deny the meaning of America itself.“
Robert Neelly Bellah (February 23, 1927 – July 30, 2013) was an American sociologist, and the Elliott Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He was internationally known for his work related to the sociology of religion.
Bellah received a BA in social anthropology from Harvard College in 1950. His undergraduate honors thesis was titled “Apache Kinship Systems,” and won the Phi Beta Kappa Prize. It was later published in 1952.
He graduated from Harvard in a joint sociology and Far East languages program, with Talcott Parsons and John Pelzel as his advisors, respectively. Bellah first encountered the work of Talcott Parsons as an undergraduate when his senior honors thesis advisor was David Aberle, a former student of Parsons. Parsons was specially interested in Bellah's concept of religious evolution and the concept of "Civil Religion." They remained intellectual friends until Parsons' death in 1979. He received his PhD in 1955. His doctoral dissertation was titled Tokugawa Religion and was an extension of Weber’s Protestant ethic thesis to Japan. It was published in 1957.
Civil Religion in America
Bellah, Robert N. Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditional World. University of California Press, 1991, p. 168.
Robert N. Bellah
Theme: A Vision of America
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