(C2-3) The Transcendental Creation of Community in a Multi-Religious Society: The U.S. from 1945 to 2005

In the U.S., religion is omnipresent despite the strict separation of state and church. Whereas the presence of religion in politics has been investigated primarily by theologians and social scientists in its theoretical form—as the concept of civil religion—, empirical studies are lacking. While the project studied patriotic celebrations and holidays in the first cluster phase, in the second cluster phase, it will, analyze election campaigns and inaugurations as instances of conflict and integration. The project director will examine which civil-religious elements supported presidential inaugurations in their roles as peaceful rituals of power transfer, ceremonies for national integration, and mechanisms of legitimization for the new president and his program, and how these elements changed. Another part of the project will investigate if civil religion was also used to create transcendental community in a multi-religious U.S. society in situations of conflict-like election campaigns. The role of religious communities and questions of gender will also be examined. If possible, students’ protest movements and civil rights movements on campus as well as commencements will be compared in order to identify differences in form, function, and the degree of use of civil religion in the subdomains of the political system and the education sector. The focus will be on the beginnings of the Cold War, the 1960s and early 1970s, and the rise of the Christian right; the project will close with the first ramifications of 9/11 and the reelection of George W. Bush.

The Project is part of Interconnecting platform F Transcultural Entanglements and coordinated project group C Dealing with religious diversity.