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Set of quasi-religious attitudes, beliefs, rituals, and symbols that tie members of a political community together. As originally formulated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the concept referred to the virtues that citizens need to serve the state. The concept was later elaborated by the American sociologist Robert N. Bellah (b. 1927), who found in the U.S. a strong sense of American exceptionalism and reverence for secular elements such as the national flag, the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, the annual holiday calendar, and the concepts of individualism and self-reliance. Another form of civil religion is presented by the example of Confucianism, where the nation is subordinated to a moral order.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on civil religion, visit Britannica.com.
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