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The sociologist Robert Bellah considered The United States to have a civic religion centred around national figures (Lincoln etc) and documents (The Declaration of Independence).

Its worth noting that the personality cults of the former Soviet Union and communist China could be presented as interpreting figures such as Marx, Lenin & Mao as prophets; though this should be really restricted to the former Soviet Union as the iconography of the existing but repressed Orthodox Christian religion could be remade in a new image; whereas in Maos China this iconography simply wasn't available - Christianity had made little headway in China - and it may have been the divinity of the emperor that was remade here.

In Western Europe, or rather the countries of Western Europe are there forms of civic religion? (This could be Christianity in its civic form).

  • Are you saying that a civic story arc consists of religion only if it is in the mould of a pre-existing religion? Or do you suppose that it inevitably will be? – Niel de Beaudrap Jul 14 '14 at 8:18
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    In the West as in the East, civic religion predates Christianity. The Greeks most definitely practiced one -- which is part of why the charge of atheism against Socrates is forceful in their culture if odd in ours. – virmaior Jul 14 '14 at 13:55
  • @de Beaudrap:I think its easier for a new civic religion to coalesce and appropriate the iconography of existing religions than to wholly invent new forms; one reason, at least for me personally, to see the US & the former communist block through the lens of a civic religion is to place them on a level where comparisons can be made; and also to de-mystify the personality cults of Lenin & Mao; I recall during the seventies & eighties how strange the personality cults looked, but then again I felt the same about mass surveillance; – Mozibur Ullah Jul 14 '14 at 16:14
  • and the latter is the norm now - both by the state & the public at large; another reason is the thesis that religion and the state are/should be naturally separated; this is generally taken to be taken to be the case in the West; however looked at historically, the evidence points in the other direction that religion & the state are natural allies; thus far from separating religion and the state in the West, one might characterise it as some form of civic religion that has wholly, or in part supplanted the place of the older one. – Mozibur Ullah Jul 14 '14 at 16:22
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One of such could be British cult of Queen, on the other hand it could be considered part of British brand along with Union Jack, red buses and postal poles. I think every nation's 'heroes' will be portrayed in too much light and all the traitors and tyrants vilified, which makes it so much harder to draw the line where 'history' ends and 'civic religion' starts.

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