Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role


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For example, the Athenian ecclesia charged that Socrates worshiped gods other than those sanctioned by the polis and condemned him to death.

Rome also had a civil religion, whose first Emperor Augustus officially attempted to revive the dutiful practice of classical paganism. Greek and Roman religion were essentially local in character; the Roman Empire attempted to unite its disparate territories by inculcating an ideal of Roman piety, and by a syncretistic identifying of the gods of conquered territories with the Greek and Roman pantheon. In this campaign, Augustus erected monuments such as the Ara Pacis , the Altar of Peace, showing the Emperor and his family worshiping the gods. Roman historians such as Livy told tales of early Romans as morally improving stories of military prowess and civic virtue.

The Roman civil religion later became centered on the person of the Emperor through the Imperial cult , the worship of the genius of the Emperor. The phrase civil religion was first discussed extensively by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his treatise The Social Contract. Rousseau defined civil religion as a group of religious beliefs he believed to be universal, and which he believed governments had a right to uphold and maintain: belief in a deity; belief in an afterlife in which virtue is rewarded and vice punished; and belief in religious tolerance.

He said the dogmas of civil religion should be simple, few in number, and stated in precise words without interpretations or commentaries. For Rousseau civil religion was to be constructed and imposed from the top down as an artificial source of civic virtue. Although he never used the term he laid great stress on the concept. Secular states in Europe by the late 19th century were building civil religion based on their recent histories. In France's case, Baylac argues, the French government:.

July 14 became a national holiday in ; the centennial of the French Revolution was celebrated in In Italy, the secular state multiplied the celebrations: State holidays, King and Queen's birthdays, pilgrimage of to the tomb of Victor-Emmanuel II. A patriotic ideology was created. In contemporary South Korea, the predominating civil religion has been described as consisting of anti-Japanese sentiment coupled with a pan- Korean racial nationalism.

The Stalin statues had been removed in the s and mention of him was erased from encyclopedias and history books.

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However under Vladimir Putin in the 21st century the memory of Stalin has been partly rehabilitated in search of a strong leader who made the nation powerful. For example, school textbooks were rewritten to portray "the mass terror of the Stalin years as essential to the country's rapid modernization in the face of growing German and Japanese military threats, and amid the inaction or duplicity of the Western democracies.

Civil religion is an important component of public life in America, especially at the national level for its celebration of nationalism. Its rituals include salutes to the flag and singing " God Bless America ". Bellah noted the veneration of veterans. The American Revolution was the main source of the civil religion that has shaped patriotism ever since. According to the sociologist Robert Bellah:. But it is also genuinely American and genuinely new. It has its own prophets and its own martyrs, its own sacred events and sacred places, its own solemn rituals and symbols. It is concerned that America be a society as perfectly in accord with the will of God as men can make it, and a light to all nations.

Albanese argues that the American Revolution was the main source of the non-denominational American civil religion that has shaped patriotism and the memory and meaning of the nation's birth ever since.

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Battles are not central as they are for the Civil War but rather certain events and people have been celebrated as icons of certain virtues or vices. As historians have noted, the Revolution produced a Moses-like leader George Washington , prophets Thomas Jefferson , Tom Paine and martyrs Boston Massacre , Nathan Hale , as well as devils Benedict Arnold , sacred places Valley Forge , Bunker Hill , rituals Boston Tea Party , emblems the new flag , sacred holidays July 4 and a holy scripture whose every sentence is carefully studied and applied in current law cases the Declaration of Independence , the Constitution , and the Bill of Rights.

Although "God" is not mentioned in the Constitution of the United States of America , mention is specifically made of " Nature's God " in the opening sentence of the Declaration of Independence. In the s and s, scholars such as Robert N. Bellah and Martin E. Marty studied civil religion as a cultural phenomenon, attempting to identify the actual tenets of civil religion in the United States, or to study civil religion as a phenomenon of cultural anthropology. Within this American context, Marty wrote that Americans approved of "religion in general" without being particularly concerned about the content of that faith, and attempted to distinguish "priestly" and "prophetic" roles within the practice of American civil religion, which he preferred to call the public theology.

The application of the concept of civil religion to the United States was in large part the work of sociologist Robert Bellah. He identified an elaborate system of practices and beliefs arising from America's unique historic experience and religiosity.

Having no association with any religious sect, Civil religion was used in the s to justify civil rights legislation. Americans ever since the colonial era talk of their obligation both collective and individual to carry out God's will on earth. George Washington was a sort of high priest, and the documents of the Founding Fathers have been treated as almost sacred texts.

With the Civil War, says Bellah, came a new theme of death, sacrifice and rebirth, as expressed through Memorial Day rituals. Unlike France, the American civil religion was never anticlerical or militantly secular. This assertive civil religion of the United States is an occasional cause of political friction between the US and Europe, where the literally religious form of civil religion has largely faded away in recent decades.

In the United States, civil religion is often invoked under the name of " Judeo-Christian ethics ", a phrase originally intended to be maximally inclusive of the several religions practiced in the United States, assuming that these faiths all share the same values. Alvin J. Other states, particularly in the South and Midwest, passed resolutions condemning the inclusion of material on evolution in biology textbooks. These actions, along with a patchwork of restrictions from local school boards, prompted most publishers to remove references to Darwin from their science textbooks.

Efforts to make evolution the standard in all biology classes stalled, due largely to the fact that the government prohibition on religious establishment or favoritism, found in the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U. Constitution, applied at the time only to federal and not state actions. State governments could set their own policies on church-state issues. Board of Education, did the constitutional prohibition on religious establishment begin to apply to state as well as federal actions.

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Evolution proponents also received a boost a decade after Everson, in , when the Soviet launch of the first satellite, Sputnik I, prompted the United States to make science education a national priority. Meanwhile, beginning in the late s, the U. Supreme Court issued a number of important decisions that imposed severe restrictions on state governments that opposed the teaching of evolution. In , in Epperson v.

Arkansas, the high court unanimously struck down as unconstitutional an Arkansas law banning the teaching of evolution in public schools. Proponents of creation science contend that the weight of scientific evidence supports the creation story as described in the biblical book of Genesis, with the formation of Earth and the development of life occurring in six hour days.

The presence of fossils and evidence of significant geological change are attributed to the catastrophic flood described in the eighth chapter of Genesis. In Edwards v. Partly due to these and other court decisions, opposition to teaching evolution itself evolved, with opponents changing their goals and tactics. But efforts to inject intelligent design into public school science curricula met the same fate as creation science had decades earlier.

Other efforts to require schools to teach critiques of evolution or to mandate that students listen to or read evolution disclaimers also were struck down.

In the years following these court decisions, there have been new efforts in Texas, Tennessee, Kansas and other states to challenge the presence of evolutionary theory in public school science curricula. For more information about how Pew Research Center asks the U.


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Concerns about how his ideas would be received by the public led British naturalist Charles Darwin, pictured here in , to wait 20 years before publishing his groundbreaking theory of evolution. It quickly became a national bestseller and the source of great controversy and debate.

In the first decades of the 20th century, Sunday and other American evangelists helped lead the charge against teaching evolution in public schools. The trial, which became a nationwide media sensation, involved the prosecution of public school teacher John Scopes for violating state law that prohibited the teaching of evolution.

In , teacher Susan Epperson, here in front of the U. Still, until the s, the Church accepted a couple's word that they had exchanged marriage vows, with no witnesses or corroborating evidence needed. In the last several hundred years, the state has played a greater role in marriage.


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  4. For instance, Massachusetts began requiring marriage licenses in , and by the 19th-century marriage licenses were common in the United States. By about years ago, the notion of love matches gained traction, Coontz said, meaning marriage was based on love and possibly sexual desire. But mutual attraction in marriage wasn't important until about a century ago.

    In fact, in Victorian England, many held that women didn't have strong sexual urges at all, Coontz said. Around the world, family-arranged alliances have gradually given way to love matches, and a transition from an agricultural to a market economy plays a big role in that transition, Coontz said. Parents historically controlled access to inheritance of agricultural land. But with the spread of a market economy, "it's less important for people to have permission of their parents to wait to give them an inheritance or to work on their parents' land," Coontz said.

    Modern markets also allow women to play a greater economic role, which lead to their greater independence. And the expansion of democracy , with its emphasis on liberty and individual choice, may also have stacked the deck for love matches. Still, marriage wasn't about equality until about 50 years ago. At that time, women and men had unique rights and responsibilities within marriage. For instance, in the United States, marital rape was legal in many states until the s, and women often could not open credit cards in their own names, Coontz said.

    Women were entitled to support from their husbands, but didn't have the right to decide on the distribution of community property. And if a wife was injured or killed, a man could sue the responsible party for depriving him of "services around the home," whereas women didn't have the same option, Coontz said.

    Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role
    Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role
    Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role
    Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role
    Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role
    Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role
    Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role
    Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role

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