Fred Gedicks has written an interesting paper on the future of civil religion in the United States. As Gedicks describes it, the American civil religion, as defined most notably by Robert Bellah several decades ago, argues that there is and should be a core series of basic principles at the heart of American nationalism, principles supportive of the American democratic order and derived from principles associated with the major religious traditions practiced by American citizens. Gedicks paints a dreary picture of the future of the American civil religion, arguing that civil religion is a theoretically undesirable concept and a practically impossible one to realize in the contemporary United States. My brief reply to Gedicks’s paper will focus on this latter point, and argue that there is a good reason to believe that the American civil religion has a viable future, one deriving from the American political left. The best example of this is the 2008 presidential candidacy of President Barack Obama.
David Fontana, Obama and the American Civil Religion from the Political Left, 41 Geo. Wash. Int'l L. Rev. 909 (2010).