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American Civil Religion As State-Mythology

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Chapter Summary

This chapter suggests that civil religion can be better understood if more attention is paid to the state and its relations with other states. As such, the state will not be seen only as the government of the United States, for example. Instead, the political body of the state will be regarded as a complex collective agent that is comprised of the government, but also by those individuals with the right to access the political process, i.e., the citizens. The chapter also suggests that civil religion could be understood as a mythological/historical definition of the American state, apparent internally as well as externally. It proposes that civil religion can be analysed as a historical legitimation of the internal and external sovereignty of the state in question. From the present perspective, American civil religion is not primarily a narration of the relation between God and the American nation.

Keywords: American civil religion; American political body; complex collective agent



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