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Civic Religion

According to Nisbet, civic religion is defined as the religious or quasi –religious regard for certain civic values and traditions found recurrently in the history of the political states. The term was first employed by JJ Rousseau in The Social Contract, 1762 and was later developed by Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, 1912.According to Rousseau, it is different from the religion of man which was a private matter between the individual and God. Civic religion was the religion of the citizen that was a public matter of the individual’s relationship with the society and state or government. According to him, civic religion binds all the members with society, instructs them in their duties and mobilizes them to war in support of the state. It refers to the beliefs, symbols, rituals and institutions that legitimize the social system, create social solidarity and mobilize a community to achieve common political objectives. The concept in modern sense was put forward by Robert Bellah in his New Religious Consciousness and the Crisis in Modernity, 1976.

In civic religion there is a fusion of the political and the religious elements. This regard for the civic values and traditions of the political state is expressed through special festivals, rituals that honor great persons or events of the past. The Independence Day celebrations in many countries leads to binding of the citizens together in collective consciousness.

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