The United States is back at war—that didn’t take very long. One might argue we never really stopped fighting, or, frankly, that the country has been in a perpetual state of war since World War II. Religious as well as the more generic popular responses to America’s various wars often boils down to a tension between revulsion and obligation. Not surprisingly, that dualism relates directly to the simple formula presidents have used over the years (and through every war) to justify military actions in strategic and moral terms. The threats change—fascism, communism, terrorism—as do the locations, but the moral rationale rarely does.
[The cathedral is] nominally Episcopal but I’ve always thought of it as the beating heart of ceremonial deism, so no surprise that it would shift as the wider public does.
Say this for [Dean Gary Hall], too: He makes no bones about his political intentions. Although if you’re head of the National Cathedral and reaching out to press a hot button, why bother doing that? Why pretend it’s a purely religious decision when it’s not?
Allahpundit is obviously right about the ceremonial deism part. And I’ll be the first to admit that this strange American habit is bad for church and state alike.
But it’s absurd to suggest that the National Cathedral is only “nominally Episcopal.”
New York City mayor Michael
Bloomberg is planning ceremonies for the 9/11 anniversary without the
participation of clergy. Jay Sekulow et
al. think this is an attack on religion. Jim Wallis et al. are criticizing both sides of
this debate and also calling for less criticism of others, or something like that.
Speakers at the Republican National Convention mentioned God 43 times; speakers at the Democratic Convention, 22 times. One thing was clear: American civil religion is alive and well. At both events God was regularly invoked as the guide and protector of American greatness.
The Supreme Court’s June ruling on whether “under God” should be part of the Pledge of Allegiance passed with relatively little notice, since the case was rejected on procedural grounds. For those who paid attention to the arguments, however, it conclusively exposed the incompatibility of American civil religion with any kind of robust Christianity.
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