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36
The White Horse: False Rel igion
The Civil
Religion of A111erica
Its money says, " In God We Trust." In its pledge of allegiance
are the words " one nation under God. " Over 90 percent of its popu–
lation indicates belief in a supreme being. The bulk of its people are
nominally Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish.
A religious country? Certainly.
But is all this where America's real religion is at? Or is it merely
ecclesiastical window dressing? If it is, then where do many of her
people place their faith , loyalty and trust? And is there such a thing
as an American civil religion?
Consider what Michael Novak, a prominent political writer, had
to say on this subject : "Whether we like or dislike the notion. how–
ever. every national state generates a civil religion . For a state is not
solely a pragmatic, administrative agency. It is also. necessarily, a
symbolic agency. The chief officers of the state perform priestly and
prophetic roles, conduct huge public liturgies, constantly reinterpret
the nation's fundamental documents and traditions, furnish the cen–
tral terms of public discourse" (Choosing Our King, p . 302).