The Concept of the Civil Religion of Robert Bellah: Pro et Contra


  • Leonid Kondratyk Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University



beliefs, practices, ritual, symbol, aptitude, values


The article argues that the modern discourse on civil religion originates from the works of American social scientist R. Bellah. This phenomenon of R. Bellah has defined as a collection of common meanings, symbols, rituals, holidays, ideas and subconsciousness, which the overwhelming majority of the population, regardless of religious preference or their absence, perceives as an individual, common, having a sacred meaning and meaning. This set of beliefs, symbols and rituals related to the sacred sphere is not brought into American society, but is the result of American history and cultural background, and therefore the civil religion is institutionalized in the community, and therefore it exists as a real social and spiritual entity and has social significance. The argument of R. Bellah and his followers about the non-identity of Christianity and civil religion, as well as its similarity to traditional religion is analyzed. The paper analyzes the definition of the civil religion of the adherents of the theory of R. Bellah, indicating their peculiarity. It is shown that in accordance with the concept of R. Bellah and his supporters, the main functions of the civil religion are: convergence of different groups with different religions, which enables to realize their significant moral potential in public life; legitimizing the existing power in society and justifying the principles of its criticism; the glorification of the spirit of the nation; formation of readiness of members of society for the joint goals and objectives. It is revealed that the content of the critique of R. Bellah’s concept of civil religion is reduced to the following: civil religion appears as idolatry to the nation; it can contribute to such a legitimization of political order, which can lead to totalitarianism (M. Cristi); since every aspect of American civil religion was formed through the experience of the war, this religion is the apotheosis of American militarism (B. Ehrenreich); American civil religion justifies hegemony in foreign policy and discriminates against the general population within the country (I. Zadorozhnyuk). The author outlined the problem of future research.


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