The Rhetoric of American Civil Religion: Symbols, Sinners, and Saints

The Rhetoric of American Civil Religion examines the rhetoric of the Founding Fathers, activists, presidents, and contemporary actors who play a large role in helping to define American civil religion. These rhetorical analyses demonstrate how America’s civil religion is forged through the constant contestations of its beliefs, rituals, places, events, and myths by different groups and individuals. The symbols and rites of organized religion are the warp and woof, not only of America’s political culture, but of language itself.

Wherever there is the desire to obtain the elusive political ideal, there too we will find saints, sinners, and rest assuredly, dynamic symbols ready to unite, divide, and if necessary, conquer. “The Great Stereopticon” is no match for either the awe-inspiring god-term or the cultural demands of civic piety. The authors of this timely collection do a fine job reminding us that this remains the case, today more than ever. Well done.

— Joseph Rhodes, University of Nevada, Las Vegas Honors College Anyone interested in exploring the historical, political, and rhetorical manifestations of American civil religion should start with this volume. It covers significant moments in the shaping of a unique and fascinating phenomenon.

— Dennis Cali, The University of Texas at Tyler Edwards and Valenzano bring together a palette of fresh faces and ideas in this edited volume. Collectively the authors answer well the questions concerning the contemporary epistemological status of American Civil Religion, and then posit further questions that arise from their nuanced understandings. This is an important contribution to the literature on American Civil Religion. — Jim A. Kuypers, Virginia Tech

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