Getting Civil Religion Wrong and Right

Paul Harvey

Another day, another awful David Barton book (but a very fine refutation of it courtesy of Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter), which I discuss in a new post at Religion Dispatches. Click on the link if you must, although the piece is mostly about why refutations of Barton don't really matter. Barton's definitions of terms such as "Modernism" and "Deconstructionism" are, at the very least, entertaining.

More interestingly and importantly, Raymond Haberski has an excellent post at U.S. Intellectual History about his new work God and War: American Civil Religion Since 1945. His post discusses the "resurgence of civil religion in a number of recent books," and he promises more posts discussing this to come.

The post and description of the book remind me strongly of the contributions of Andrew Michael Manis on "Civil Religion" and Ira Chernus on "Religion, War, and Peace," in our edited volume The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History. Manis and Chernus provide two of the strongest contributions to the volume, with themes very consonant to those Haberski discusses in God and War.


Tim said…
I of course share your frustration with the seeming ineffectiveness of rational discussion on the likes of Barton. Yet, as one saved from that very sort of clap-trap (in my case the Peter Marshall by Noll, et. al.) I can't help but feel that you are perhaps selling these debunking efforts a little short.

To be sure, there are those who will continue to believe what they want regardless of all evidence to the contrary. Yet, I do not think I was exceptional in being forced to face, and eventually accept, a reality I very much did not want to believe.

There are many thoughtful and intellectually-honest folks raised in fundamentalism, whose minds CAN be changed, and I'm grateful for those who engage in these efforts.