American Civil Religion: What Americans Hold Sacred

ISBN : 9780195300178

Peter Gardella
384 ページ
162 x 238 mm

The United States has never had an officially established church. Since the time of the first British colonists, it has instead developed a strong civil religion that melds national symbols to symbols of God. In a deft exploration of American civil religious symbols ranging from the Liberty Bell and Vietnam Memorial to Mount Rushmore and Disney World, Peter Gardella explains how the places, objects, and symbols that Americans hold sacred came into being and how they have changed over time. In addition to examining revered historical sites and structures, he analyzes such sacred texts as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, the Kennedy Inaugural, and the speeches of Martin Luther King, and shows how five patriotic songs-"The Star-Spangled Banner," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" "America the Beautiful," "God Bless America," and "This Land Is Your Land"-have been elevated into hymns. Arguing that certain values-personal freedom, political democracy, world peace, and cultural tolerance-have held American civil religion together, this book chronicles the numerous forms those values have taken, from Jamestown and Plymouth to the September 11, 2001, Memorial in New York.


1. What Is American Civil Religion?
2. America: The Name, the Concept, and the Word
3. Jamestown and Its Anniversaries
4. The Mayflower Compact
5. Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims and the Indians
6. City on a Hill: From Jesus to Winthrop, Kennedy, and Reagan
7. The Freedom Trail and Boston Common
8. The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Slave Quarters
9. The Flag
10. The Declaration of Independence
11. The Great Seal and the Dollar Bill
12. The Constitution
13. Washington, D.C.: The City, the Capitol, and the White House
14. The Star-Spangled Banner
15. The Washington Monument
16. The Battle Hymn of the Republic
17. Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address
18. Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
19. Arlington National Cemetery
20. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
21. America the Beautiful
22. The Lincoln Memorial
23. Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills
24. God Bless America
25. This Land Is Your Land
26. The Four Freedoms
27. Iwo Jima: The Picture, the Monuments, and the Battle
28. Disney Parks
29. The Kennedy Inaugural
30. King's Speeches: The Mall (1963) and Memphis (1968)
31. Vietnam Veterans' Memorial
32. Transforming the National Mall
33. Ground Zero, Martyrdom, and Empire
34. Conflict, Consensus, and the Future


Peter Gardella is Professor of World Religions at Manhattanville College.