Toward a Theory of a Society Without Idols

Richard K. Fenn

in Beyond Idols

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780195143690
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834174 | DOI:
Toward a Theory of a Society Without Idols

Show Summary Details


As societies secularize, civil religions lose their unique basis in the nation‐state, decompose into public religiosity, and become open to revision and negotiation. Agreement on procedures replaces commitment to national beliefs and participation in national ceremonies, and the religious self‐conceptions of the periphery compete successfully with those at the national center. In societies like the U.S., there are competing forms of the sacred, and public religiosity competes successfully with official or elitist versions of the sacred. Societies with a well‐developed and institutionalized civil religion have a high fascist potential as in France, where civil religion unites popular religiosity with a national ideology internally divided between the secular and the religious and between the Christian and the revolutionary legacies of the past. Advocates of civil religion seek to reinforce the nation's claim to transcendence over the passage of time and to avoid the threat of national decay and disintegration.

Keywords: center; civil religion; fascist; ideology; monopoly; nation‐state; periphery; public religiosity; sacred

Chapter.  11768 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.