Bad Religion

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Vol: 4, Issue: 1

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William C. Wiebe
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Acknowledging the historically circumstantial character of religious interventions in American politics, this paper examines the shift from an endogenous civil religion to an exogenous political religion that occurred with the onset of the Cold War. I argue, with Jonathan Herzog, that the nature of the religio-political relationship transformed from one that located a religious base beneath a political superstructure to one that employed religious means in the service of political ends. As the nation secularized, the demands for religious legitimation diminished and religion ultimately became a mechanism for political gain. The relatively marginal role that religion plays in our current political climate reflects the vestiges of these twin historical legacies.