Civil religion has proven to be a religion that we cannot live without. It remains a persistent feature of most modern liberal societies, despite the apparent progress of religious toleration. Civil religion might have been a vestige of ages past, yet it persists even in contemporary North American political life, as is attested to by the consistent religious appeals of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The endurance of civil religion in modern liberal societies points to its significance as a political and theological problem of permanent concern. There is a rich heritage of reflection on this problem that extends at least as far back as Plato's Laws. This volume includes essays on significant philosophical, theological, and political expressions of civil religion from a wide variety of sources in the Western intellectual and political tradition. With essays on ancient, medieval, and modern political philosophers, and essays on major statements and figures from the United States and Canada, this volume demonstrates why civil religion is an enduring political phenomenon. The essays in this volume blend historical and philosophical reflection with concern for contemporary political problems. They show that the causes and motivations of civil religion are a permanent fixture of the human condition, though some of its manifestations and proximate causes have shifted in an age of multiculturalism, religious toleration, and secularization. The topic of civil religion turns our attention to the realm of action where human beings have little choice but to disclose the unexamined faith within which their lives unfold. This is a timely exploration of the problem of civil religion in the history of political thought.
RONALD WEED is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of New Brunswick. His publications include Aristotle on Statis: A Moral Philosophy of Political Conflict and From Ancient Greek to Asian Philosophy. JOHN VON HEYKING, associate professor of political science at the University of Lethbridge, is the author of Augustine and Politics as Longing in the World and Friendship and Politics: Essays in Political Thought. Other contributors are David J. Bobb, David C. Innes, Preston Jones, Joseph M. Knippenberg, Douglas Kries, V. Bradley Lewis, Thomas F. Powers, Matthias Riedl, Jeffrey Sikkenga, and Travis D. Smith.