The phrase “one nation under God” is a key phrase occurring in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, and refers to the republic for which the flag stands. The words “under God” were inserted by Congress into the Pledge during the early 1950s to affirm a sense of national religious solidarity in the face of the Soviet challenge. It expressed the attitude, prevalent during the Eisenhower era, that the United States was historically united not just by political institutions and practices, but by certain spiritual commitments the Americans held in common, even if they were only vaguely perceived.
The social turmoil and cultural upheavals of the 1960s, however, seriously called into serious question the idea of a common culture of any sort. In the ensuing decades, America became, in popular opinion, not a “melting pot”, as it was once termed, but a complex chowder of countless cultures and diverse religious expressions. The notion of “one nation under God” seemed quaint and outdated, if not repressive.
In the week of the terrorist attacks of September 2001, however, those sentiments changed significantly. Vehicles and billboards flaunted American flags, along with the inscriptions “In God we trust” and “united we stand.” In light of these events, many people now wonder whether the post-Sixties model of an expansive religious pluralism is compatible with the idea of the American republic.
With these developments in mind, the conference will center on the meaning of the phrase “one nation under God.” It will address four essential questions:
Did the cultural transformation of the 1960s destroy or did it, in unexpected ways, affirm a common American religious faith, limited though it might be? Has the post 9/11 mood reversed that trend?
To what degree has the new awareness of the diversity of world religions found in America confirmed, or undermined the sense of a common faith suggested in the phrase “one nation under God” and in the very idea of an American “republic” in the classic sense?
If a common spiritual heritage still survives in America, how can it be identified and articulated? How can this be accomplished without, unintentionally, compromising religious freedom?
How can Americans' minimal agreement on religious matters be employed to overcome destructive disagreements on affairs involving faith and public life?
SUBMITTING PAPERS OR PROPOSALS
Res Publica invites the submission of full papers or proposals for papers, panels, roundtables, or special colloquuia. Papers or proposals must be submitted in BOTH electronic format and in hard copy (3 copies).
Electronic versions must be in plain text and/or MS-Word format, or a program that is readable by MS-Word 2000 (Sorry, no MAC files). Electronic files should be submitted BOTH on a 31/2 “ floppy disk AND as an attachment mailed to the following address: email@example.com.
Proposals should be 500 to 1000 words in length and contain the following information (If more than one person is making the proposal, please give names and following information for all those concerned):
Full name, title, and professional affiliation.
Title of paper or proposal.
Postal address during the regular academic year (Sept.-May).
Postal address during the summer (if different) or during any other time period between now and the conference.
Work and home telephone numbers.
Indicate whether you or participants are currently members or fellows.
Membership in Res Publica is required for conference participation. If you are not a member or fellow, please send a detailed resume or vita along with your proposal. You will be invoiced for membership dues once your proposal is accepted. Res Publica assumes no responsibility for proposals that are lost or delayed in the mail, or over email. To apply for membership online, go to http://www.du.edu/~craschke/apply.htm
If you desire confirmation that your proposal has been received, please send a stamped self-addressed postcard along with your proposal. Res Publica reserves the right to reject, or not consider, proposals or submissions that do not conform to the above guidelines.
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