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ERIC Number: ED315796
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Apr
Pages: 16
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Ronald Reagan's Civil Religion.
Fulmer, Hal W.
Ronald Reagan's rhetorical presidency can be summarized as a leader attempting, at virtually every occasion, to stem the dissolution of the American spirit by celebrating the country's mythic past. Such attempts were Reagan's celebration of nationalism through a particular discussion of the interrelationships between liberty, freedom, democracy, and Providence. Such efforts reveal Reagan's celebration of his own understanding of the country's civil religion. The relationship between the presidency and civil religion is an important one, where the elected official becomes the vehicle for articulating and preserving America's particular mythic understanding of itself. Reagan's presidential discourse was filled with examples of civil religion, such as discussion of sacred origins and sacred destinies for America, his recounting the deeds of heroic figures, and his definition of democracy. Other presidents have paid homage to that fusion of nationalism and mythology called America's civil religion. However, Reagan's rhetoric concerning civil religion is important for two reasons. First, Reagan was a president who used the elements of civil religion often; they permeated his rhetoric. Second, such epideictic celebrations were not without pragmatic implications, for such rhetoric ran through virtually all of the president's discourse. Ronald Reagan made very consistent and apparently very successful use of various elements of America's civil religion, reminding the people of their "divine legacy" and calling the people to fulfill their "divine destiny." (Thirty-four notes are included.) (MS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A