Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-01-17
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Open To Thinking: Rancher Bundy, civil religion in US
A recurring column
by Nick Patricca
2014-05-07

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


In his 1762 treatise 'The Social Contract' Jean-Jacques Rousseau presents the principles necessary to construct legitimate political authority in the modern world, a world that had lost or destroyed the traditional foundations for government. In Book 8, he presents the idea of a 'civil religion,' a religion that the state should endorse to promote good citizenship. Rousseau's civil religion preaches: 1 ) the existence of a supreme deity that exercises some providential control over history and nature; 2 ) an afterlife in which virtue is rewarded and vice is punished; 3 ) an active tolerance by the state of all religions as long as their practices do not interfere with the core values of the nation-state.

In essence, Rousseau argues that the political authority of the modern nation-state requires a civil religion to make legitimate and to justify its right to govern its citizens.

In his 1967 essay 'Civil Religion in America,' the sociologist Robert N. Bellah explores the concept of civil religion as it manifests itself in the USA. For Bellah, the basic elements of our civil religion are: the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution as the sacred scriptures ( sometimes Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is added to this list ); the War of Independence and the Civil War as the sacred events; Chosen People, Promised Land ( Exodus ), New Jerusalem, Sacrificial Death and Re-Birth as the sacred themes; Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln as the high priests; and Liberty, Democracy, and Free Enterprise as the core rights of citizenship. And, of course, Thanksgiving is our civic holy day officially established by Washington October 3, 1789.

In the 20th century, communism and fascism, among other isms, developed civil religion into what Emilio Gentile, Walter Benjamin, and others call 'political religion,' an ideology that the state employs as an official state religion in order to control and motivate its citizens, and to suppress dissent. Interestingly, another form of political religion has developed in our contemporary USA society. This type of political religion is not used by the state to impose its will on its citizens; rather, these political religions are used by various groups within our nation to justify their understandings of the sacred elements of our dominant civil religion. Understandings they are willing to defend by dying for them or killing for them: the classic hallmarks of a religion.

Let's examine a current extreme example: Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy believes he has a constitutional right to graze his 900 cattle on federal land. On April 12, 2014 hundreds of self-proclaimed 'militia' rallied in Bunkersville, Nevada, to support the rights of rancher Bundy. These armed women and men mustered to defend Bundy's 'constitutional rights': to pursue his happiness through ranching, to exercise his freedom through the use of federal lands for grazing, and to protect his property ( cattle ) through force of arms if necessary.

Bundy uses USA land managed by the Bureau of Land Management ( BLM ) of our federal government to graze his cattle. The BLM alleges that Bundy now owes 1.1 million in grazing fees. According to various reports in the media, Rancher Bundy says alternately either that he does not recognize the federal government or that he does not recognize the federal government's ownership of the land. He also adds that in the past ( prior to 1993 ) he paid the fees to the BLM as management fees not as grazing fees. He now claims the BLM are not proper managers. To make a states rights point, Bundy affirms that he abides by all laws and regulations of the sovereign state of Nevada.

Some unkind critics of Bundy have observed that his motive for not paying the grazing fees might not be driven by principle but by the fact that he has not been able to make a living as a rancher for some time. Several of Bundy's supporters countered this complaint with this most intriguing logic: Bundy has a constitutional right to be a money-losing cattle man because it is his way of life and the constitution guarantees his right to pursue his happiness as he sees fit.

The words 'Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness' do not appear in our Constitution; they appear in our Declaration of Independence. Nevertheless, in many versions of our civil religion, these words are perceived and used as sacred text, as gospel equivalent to Constitutional text.

Though Locke, and many other philosophers, posit the protection of 'life, liberty, and property' to be the principle functions of government, it is unique to us citizens of the United States to proclaim 'the pursuit of happiness' as a function of government.

The Bundy affair has many dimensions. The one most interesting to me is this: the pursuit of happiness as a principle of political authority and legitimacy.

© nicholas.patricca@gmail.com

Nick Patricca is professor emeritus at Loyola University Chicago, president of Chicago Network and playwright emeritus at Victory Gardens Theater.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

GUEST COLUMN I Don't Mind Your Asking 2018-01-17 - This question, again, was asked of me recently. Good naturedly, with love, and with sincere caring ... but always unexpected. It caused me, ...


Gay News

King's dream of 'the beloved community' extends to yours, too 2018-01-17 - KThis year is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It's a painful and necessary anniversary ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINTS Putting it to the test, 23andMe 2018-01-10 - More than 2 million people have taken part in genetic testing by 23andMe, a company founded in 2006 by CEO Anne Wojcicki. The ...


Gay News

VIEWS Words have consequences 2018-01-03 - Words matter in science—and in politics. We recently heard deeply troubling stories about the possible censorship of words at the Centers for Disease ...


Gay News

MOMBIAN 2017: Good news, bad news for LGBTQ families 2018-01-03 - Was 2017 a good year for LGBTQ parents and our children? The political situation in the United States was grim, but we also ...


Gay News

GUEST COLUMN Are you tired of male sexual privilege? #metoo 2017-12-27 - In 1978, I left Temple University's PhD program after I had an interaction with a professor on my orals committee. "I want to ...


Gay News

For Black women, being Dems' 'backbone' is no compliment 2017-12-27 - Black women voters in the recent Alabama U.S. Senate race are being thanked for "saving" the state from Republican candidate Roy Moore, a ...


Gay News

The fairy gardener 2017-12-26 - There was snow on the ground here in Chicago in early December. Did you get all your bulbs in? If not, pot them ...


Gay News

VIEWPIONTS The New Jim Crow targets LGBTQ Americans, too 2017-12-20 - Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case—which has many of ...


Gay News

A Different World: Why We Owe the Cosby Accusers an Apology 2017-12-15 - "The sins of the fathers. They just fucked it all up. We had the best family. We had it all. We had it ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.