American civil religion : continuity and change

Hanson, Darrin Mark
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American civil religion is a topic in which there is a lot of interest but very little current scholarly activity. This is primarily due to there currently being no common understanding of American civil religion, hindering progress in the field. The first purpose of the dissertation is to rectify this situation by creating a solid theoretical understanding of American civil religion from which scholarship can progress. The second purpose of the dissertation is to examine the development of the American civil religion through history. This includes an interesting dynamic given the civil religion's purpose of promoting a shared identity. The process of promoting a shared identity involves defining the social group in question. When 'outsiders' enter the community, conflict ensues. Typically, the conflict continues until the parameters of the civil religion is enlarged, incorporating the new group. This is a continuing cycle within the American civil religion. Looking at this broad framework, one will able to see both the continuity and change from the founding period to the current version of the American civil religion.