Civil religion is a set of beliefs, practices, and symbols that connect the nation-state to a sense of transcendence, often including the Divine. It is a culturally pervasive, nonsectarian meaning system, associated with particular sociopolitical rites, which sacralizes the nation-state and the history and destiny of a society. Examples range from formal expressions of ideologies such as American exceptionalism, which posit the nation as having a unique mission in the world and receiving exceptional favor from God, to more prosaic expressions such as the singing of the national anthem before sporting events or references to voting as a sacred duty.

In the United States, the concept first gained popularity as a social scientific concept after a 1967 essay by Robert Bellah. Although his work focused on ...

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