Call for Papers—The Rhetoric of Civil Religion: Saints, Sinners, and Symbols
Over the history of the United States many prominent politicians, pundits, and policymakers have argued the United States is a “Christian nation.” This definition of America is the source of controversy and debate amongst various constituencies. However, it is not far-fetched, or even controversial, to note the influence of faith on the contours of the American fabric. This religious dimension is not defined by the tenets of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism or any other specific religion; rather, America’s religion is what Robert Bellah noted as its “well-institutionalized civil religion.” This religion has certain fundamental tenets, rituals, holidays, and values that are embodied in specific texts, artifacts, days and even people who serve as “saints” of civil religion.
Since Robert Bellah’s 1967 essay on “Civil Religion in America” there has been substantial debate about this subject regarding what are the tenets of American civil religion, how are they embodied/used/abused, and who are America’s true civil religious “saints.” In this particular volume we call for chapters that discuss the rhetoric of America’s civil religion in all its various forms.
Essays can focus on any of the following categories of civil religion in the United States:
1) Updating the debate over American civil religion: Revisiting Bellah, Hart and others. These chapters will focus on the conceptual debate scholars have been having over this subject ever since the publication of Bellah’s 1967 essay.
2) Identifying civil religious texts, artifacts and practices. These chapters will focus on an examination of texts invoked or used to either forward or counter American civil religion. We take a broad interpretation of texts, however specific people are not considered texts in this category of essays.
3) Identifying the “saints” of American civil religion. Who are they? How have they contributed to the creation, growth, strengthening, altering, and re-invention of civil religion? These saints can be traditional political leaders such as American presidents, but might include all kinds of different “saints” that have contributed to America’s civil religion such as leaders of social movements, sports figures, television personalities, and other people.
Scholars interested in submitting chapter proposals should include: 1) a title page with the contact information of all authors; 2) a brief biographical statement for all authors; 3 an extended abstract of the chapter (no more than 4 pages). All chapters should be no longer than 30 pages including notes and references.
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