President’s Day Reflections: What Substitute for a Religious Society?

This from as I write my blog on this President’s day, February 20, 2012 

Shaun Casey, the religious affairs adviser to presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008, said at a discussion on Tuesday about “God and Politics” that the demise of religious society in the United States is a good thing.

“I, frankly, am glad American civil religion is dying,” said Casey, who is an associate professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Casey made the remarks at an event focusing on religion and the 2012 presidential election at the liberal Center for American Progress where he was a panelist along with Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Hispanic Evangelical Coalition.

Casey was responding to Salguero’s claim that civil religion is employed by politicians as an “iconic use of faith.”

“There is also a negative underside to that history with respect to slavery, manifest destiny, to war, you know, to empires, so I, frankly, am glad American civil religion is dying,” Casey said. “But it does raise the practical question, what does bind us together in some way as a country?

“We need some substitute for that and I don’t think we’ve found it yet,” Casey said. 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a Swiss-French philosopher, is credited with coining the term “civil religion” in his 1762 book in his series “The Social Contract.” He described civil religion as the moral and spiritual foundation of modern society.

 I’m not interested in this short post of digging into Rousseau’s philosophy of “civil Religion.”  Nor debating modern-day politics.  And there is not the time or space for parsing the issues of “church and state.”  But consider this.  Is the demise of religion really a good thing?  Is a society without God an improvement? And what is going to be the substitute for our social order? 

Such thoughts are a far cry from our first President, George Washington who said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible…He is worse than an infidel who does not read his Bible and acknowledge his obligation to God.” 

Founding father Thomas Jefferson who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and our third President affirmed, “I have always said and always will say that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make better citizens, better fathers, better husbands…the Bible makes the best people in the world.” 

And great emancipator Abraham Lincoln, to whom President’s Day is tied said, “I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible.  Take all of this Book by reason that you can, and the balance of a faith, and you will live and die a better man.”  On another occasion he acknowledged, “In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man.”

So if we totally discard the Bible and the principles of Christianity from our culture, what will be the substitute?

What would we substitute for the golden rule, to “treat people the same way you want them to treat you”? (Matt 7:12)

What would we substitute for the second greatest commandment, “to love your neighbor as yourself”? (Matt 22:39)

What would we substitute for God’s moral law founded on the principles of the 10 commandments? (Ex. 20:1-17).

Indeed Postmodernism is rapidly influencing and shaping the thinking of political, educational and even religious leaders in America today.  Rather than “curse the darkness, let us light a candle.”  Let us be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  May those of us who wear the name of Jesus, “live soberly, righteously and godly in the present world.”  So regardless of what assaults are made on our beloved land, we know that our citizenship is in heaven, to which we journey one day at a time.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under America, Culture

2 responses to “President’s Day Reflections: What Substitute for a Religious Society?

  1. Larry

    Excellent article.
    Laary DeVore

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