‘The future belongs to crowds: The rise of American ‘civil religion’

The responses I received to the May 29, 2024, ‘The future belongs to crowds: The rise of American ‘civil religion’ blog encompassed five strands, namely:

  • If the intent were to discuss Christian nationalism [i]the blog doesn’t live up to expectations. The examples proffered were use of U.S. Christian ‘heritage,’ primarily cultural Christianity, to advance a civic Christianity that, melded with politics, satisfies the needs or objectives of certain strains of Christian thought as normative for policymaking at various governance levels. I used the posting of “In God We Trust” or similar mottos in or around public buildings or in public places, including public schools. Louisiana’s recent foray to post the Ten Commandments in classroom belies this sentiment with a ready, ‘bring on the lawsuits,’ which acknowledges the questionable predicament this places on the state.[ii] Supporters see posting of the Commandments within a frame of advancing Christian principles as foundational for law.[iii] Another point: Does this action establish a de facto state church much as the nation displaced in the late 18th Century or which Europe also abandoned in large part?[iv] After all, we’re told the religious were motivated to come to America because of freedom from state-sponsored religion or, at least, due to persecution for religious beliefs?[v] A final strain is that too much can be read into Christian nationalism – within 30,000 Protestant faith  expressions,[vi] are we heading to internecine religious wrangling (or, maybe more)?[vii]
  • While the blog focused the rise of Evangelicalism, the departure from mainline churches also occurred within a political vein – that is mainline church “hierarchical”: support of political causes which, in the 1960s – 1990s became normative despite loss of members in mainline churches. In other words, church engagement is okay as long as the political dynamic is satisfied. For another perspective, refer to Gazette-Mail Op-ed. Here’s the link.[viii]
  • In that no World War battles were fought on U.S soi – exemptions provided – what about  “9/11,” which was followed by economic panic circa 2008, and the COVID-19 pandemic? The listing, including 9/11, weren’t  “invasions,’ although these events “invaded’ the American political and cultural psyche, giving rise to Christian nationalism – that is, as a defense mechanism for dealing with an unchartered, scary world.[ix]
  • Have American values been trampled by ‘left-thinking’ ideology, institutionalized by bureaucratic and “process” government, undergirded by law, rule or judicial decree, creating imbalance and division, with progressivism falling from favor, although enjoying institutional legal or regulatory protections – protections which demand faith-based responses.[x]
  • Where is the nation headed? Is the U.S., experiencing the ideological divide other much-older democratic nations – “Old Europe,’ being the pejorative term – face, resulting in the move to secularized nationalism[xi] with Christianity seen as a problem rather than a solutions.[xii](See Zeitgeist)  Does  nationalism, as a world-wide movement, become a pseudo-religion? [xiii]Will the U.S. embrace nationalism as informed by civil religious tenets?  Have we, as a people, lost faith in our institutions, which are bound by process and bureaucracy, meaning the nation, in a vexed state, wants newer solutions to address weighty ennui? What of the adage, ‘this too shall pass?’ Perhaps, although we’re probably a generation or two away from the death of 1960s political thought context ungirding societal institutions.[xiv] Has social media, in replacing conventional dissemination of information, resulted in truncating difficult, perplexing issues into collapsable “bytes” that make sense? Stated differently, a generation’s accepted truth may be viewed differently by successive generations, meaning context is not universal. Within this milieu, emergent political leaders or functionaries must  parse, displace or disturb  use of conventional or traditional policy approaches, being seen as a political policy entrepreneur bearing problem-solving solutions that are inconsistent, established on norms other than data, facts, figures, statistics or conventional political rationality. Thus, is the emergent political leaders’ role to embrace truths that are more polemical rather than precedent with bureaucratic institutions or customary approaches? Does the approach amount to embracing alternate policy ideals and ideologies to satisfy political base loyalists?  This line of thought sees institutions needing to prove relevance through accelerationism[xv] and, to borrow a phrase from the 1960s, the possible need to ‘burn the village to save the village’[xvi] – hence, the blog headline, ‘the future belongs to crowds.’[xvii]

Finally, what about research that shows the nation’s citizenry may be less divided in terms of core American values?[xviii]

Should this have been my starting point?

Next time: accelerationism within the framework of  ‘pseudo-authoritarianism’ or ‘pseudo-absolutism’ as interpreted by entrepreneurial leaders through personified politics.

[ii] https://thehill.com/homenews/education/4733678-louisiana-law-ten-commandments-fight/

[iii] Refer to above Endnote. Also refer to https://wvmetronews.com/2024/06/24/577300/

[iv] Pew Charitable trusts provides this analysis: https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2019/04/30/in-western-european-countries-with-church-taxes-support-for-the-tradition-remains-strong/

[v] https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel01.html

[vi] Interestingly, AI-generated analysis says the figure is inflated, including a cited higher 47,000 figure. This entry from Wikipedia may be a good place to start: n.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations_by_number_of_members#:~:text=Broadly%20speaking%20Protestantism%20has%20four,tens%20of%20thousands%20of%20denominations.

[vii] The strife Martin Luther had unwittingly unleashed led to a chaotic series of wars that would last more than a century. Throughout the 1500s, Europe’s princes and kings jockeyed for power, using religion as their excuse. It culminated in a bloody free-for-all called the Thirty Years’ War that raged from 1618 to 1648. While the war involved many countries, it was fought mainly on German soil. Much of the battle gear, ramparts, and folkloric reenactments tourists see today in Germany dates from this war. Casualties were devastating as a third of all Germans were killed. On the Catholic side, the pope was supported by the powerful Holy Roman Emperor. The emperor had Europe’s leading army and was more than willing to march into Germany and put down Protestants. As these wars — with a mix of political and religious agendas — raged across Europe, princes grabbed for power while the people violently sorted out their deep-seated religious frustrations. Polemical; there are other sources / https://classroom.ricksteves.com/videos/the-religious-wars-spawned-by-the-reformation#:~:text=The%20strife%20Martin%20Luther%20had,raged%20from%201618%20to%201648.

[viii] https://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion/op_ed_commentaries/alan-rezek-church-membership-declines-because-of-failing-clergy-opinion/article_8adc28dc-de35-593a-a3be-e6d45f6927e5.html


[x] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/26/briefing/me-too-black-lives-matter-occupy-wall-street.html Also consider: Opinion | What Have Progressives Done to the West Coast? – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

[xi] https://www.wcsaglobal.org/volume-1-issue-1-2020/the-worldwide-phenomenon-of-nationalism-versus-globalism-a-rhetorical-perspective/

[xii] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09637494.2023.2284690 An admitted long read.

[xiii] Opinion | Is There a Post-Religious Right? – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

[xiv] We Haven’t Hit Peak Populism Yet / https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/23/opinion/populism-trump-elections.html

[xv] By that this writer means ‘political’ accelerationism

[xvi] https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-02-09/destroying-a-quote-s-history-in-order-to-save-it?embedded-checkout=true

[xvii] https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-present-belongs-to-crowds#:~:text=The%20novelist%20Don%20DeLillo%2C%20in,and%20animated%20by%20oracular%20commentary (among other sources).

[xviii] Election 2024 Poll: Americans are divided, but agree on most core values | AP News

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