America's religion in a nutshell

Mollie Ziegler's point about the vapid character of American's unofficial established religion folk religion is made quite nicely by this article on America's political future, which parenthetically contains the following remarkably accurate description of the very faith that was practiced- and confessed- at that Yankee Stadium service shortly after 9/11:

At the National Religious Broadcasters' convention on 10th February 2003, Bush was introduced as 'our friend and brother in Christ' who 'unapologetically proclaims his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.' But it was a political mistake for Bush to say during the 2000 Republican primaries that Jesus was the 'philosopher' who had most influenced him. Since then, when addressing the broader public, Bush has been careful to speak of the Almighty rather than Jesus and of God-given human rights rather than sin and salvation. Republican strategists understand that, since the 18th century, the American civil religion has been an Enlightenment deism which is theistic enough to reassure religious believers and vague enough not to worry most secular Americans. The religious public interprets a politician's reference to God as the biblical God, while the non-religious picture the 'Nature's God' of Enlightenment philosophes like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, (as president, Jefferson published his own version of the Gospels from which he had removed all the miracles). The blandness of America's quasi-official 'Potomac piety' is symbolised by a remark of President Dwight Eisenhower in 1952: 'Our government makes no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith - and I don't care what it is.' When an American president closes an address by saying 'God bless America,' this is not a signal that the US is about to become a theocracy. It is the equivalent of "May the Force be with you."


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