45 J. Church & St. 305 (2003)
Under God and Anit-Communist: How the Pledge of Allegiance Got Religion in Cold War America

handle is hein.journals/jchs45 and id is 323 raw text is: Under God and Anti-Communist:
How the Pledge of Allegiance Got
Religion in Cold War America
In the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, the
American flag became ubiquitous-in stores, on cars, at work, in
neighborhoods, in churches, and on t-shirts and other assorted articles
of clothing. Over a year later, the Stars and Stripes continue to be in
vogue, to say the least. Countless billboards and bumper stickers, often
with the flag as a backdrop, declare the United States to be One Na-
tion, Under God. Meanwhile, the stirring refrain of the patriotic invo-
cation God Bless America echoes in the collective national
consciousness, whether it be sung by members of Congress on the
steps of the Capitol, played by marching bands during football halftime
shows, or proclaimed by ministers in churches across the nation. Civil
religion, it seems, is back, and with it comes a number of familiar, but
troubling, questions.
Having noted this, however, it should be observed that American
civil religion has never really gone away. As a cultural phenomenon,
civil religion has been around since at least the revolutionary era, soci-
ologist Robert Bellah observed in his seminal 1967 essay, Civil Relig-
ion in America. What we have, Bellah writes, from the earliest
years of the republic is a collection of beliefs, symbols, and rituals with
respect to sacred things and institutionalized in a collectivity. This
religious understanding of the new nation, Bellah continues, while not
antithetical to, and indeed sharing much in common with, Christianity,
was neither sectarian or in any specific sense Christian.1 It was, how-
ever, distinctively American. Since Bellah first raised the issue, count-
* LEE CANIPE (B.A., Davidson College; M.A., University of Virginia; M.Div., Duke Uni-
versity) is a doctoral fellow in the J.M. Dawson Institute of Churc -State Studies at Baylor
University. Special interests include religion and American culture and Christian theology
and ethics. A shorter version of this essay was presented at the Southwest Regional Meeting
of the American Academy of Religion in Irving, Texas on 9 March 2002. The author wishes
to thank Barry Hankins, Mark Long, Ron Flowers, and an anonymous reviewer for their
helpful critiques of earlier drafts of this essay.
1. Robert Bellah, Civil Religion in America, reprinted in American Civil Religion, eds.
Russell E. Richey and Donald G. Jones (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), 29. Bellah's
essay originally appeared in Daedulus 96 (Winter 1967): 1-21.

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