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They are able to work for the common good when submitted to the rule of law, and work to change unjust laws.Americans may disagree on the criteria by which they value the fairness of laws, but they agree that freedom is found for individuals under the rule of law established by a representative form of government.
Appealing to a god, even “Nature’s God,” has its value.
Plus Americans all benefit from holding in common the rights and value of each individual person.
In 2010, I had a friend who attended Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Hope” rally in Washington DC.
My friend was all exited about all the talk he heard about spiritual awakening.
These are just a few of the values within American civil religion that reveal its usefulness.
The Christian religion became a treasure trove of language, narrative, and metaphors from which American founders could draw upon to write and speak about the formation of a new republic.Rather they were allowing their rather vague religious tone to spread through the country in a way that would bind Americans together.They felt free to borrow some of the more nondescript references to “God” and “Providence” never assuming civil religion would overtake the reach and purposes of the Christian faith.Americans don’t go to work on the fourth of July (at least most don’t!) and they stand facing a flag whenever the national anthem is played or sung. Oaths were made with a reverberating “So help me God.” Some people aren’t aware that American civil religion exists and that it is not the same as Christianity. Religion in general is a social construct comprised of those things which bind us together.While some would argue that the separation of church and state prohibits the commingling of religion and civic governance, we only have to look at the recent presidential inauguration for examples of American civil religion on public display. Citizens of a given nation need a certain set of values and principles to keep them together, to keep them from fighting and ripping the nation apart.Civic religion offers shared values and certain practices or rituals that reinforce those values.There we find songs and rituals reinforcing the American identity.At the last NFL game I attended, we were asked to stand before the singing of the national anthem.Sadly my friend did not know the difference between the Christian faith and American civil religion.According to sociologist Robert Bellah, American civil religion is “certain common elements of religious orientation that the great majority of Americans share…(values) expressed in a set of beliefs, symbols, and rituals.”  We do not have to look to hard to see the common beliefs, recognizable symbols, and shared rituals associated with American life.