Civil Religion

Bellah

Bellah

  • Coined term 'Civil religion' when examining American society
  • Civil religion = non-religious events which generate and aexpress a national sentiment in similar ways to religious ceremonies.
  • Argues there is a 'faith in Americanism'- involves loyalty to nation-state and a belief in God-both equated with being a true American
  • Claims loyalty of all americans not with a belief in God but an 'American belief'
  • Civil religion involves shared rituals, traditions, symbols, places of worship- draw allegiance from americans and unifies nation
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Shills and Young

Civil religion in the UK

  • Rituals surrounding British monarchy = civil religion
  • eg Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II signified unity as was watched and listened to by many - produced socila solidarity
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Marxist Views

  • Agree with functionalist that religion is unifying force
  • View consensus in society as benefiting ruling class only
  • Religious beliefs divert working class from seeing their exploited state
  • Marx referred to religion as the 'opium of the people'- likening to a drug that gives false sense of wellbeing
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Evaluation (Bryan Turner)

  • rejects view religion is significant in uniting society
  • Argues that civil religion ahs been extended to so many activities and beliefs it has become meaningless
  • Argues that the sense individuals feel from civil religion is pride in their country but they arent necessary to maintain stability of society
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