Obama, Newtown, and civil religion

This isn’t really the time for a full-blown analysis, but at some point in the future, it would be worth doing a close read of the President’s address at the Newtown prayer service as an artifact of American civil religion. I think a case is waiting to be made that this is not civil religion as described by Robert Bellah back in the 1960s: Obama’s address was more distinctively Christian. There was a pluralist note, when Obama said that “all the world’s religions” start with questions about the meaning of life. But the speech began and ended with quotations from the New Testament (one from the NIV, the other from the ESV, whatever those choices might betoken).


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