Professor Philip Gorski was recently interviewed in The Atlantic about his new book, American Covenant. In the interview Gorski charts out the concept of civil religion in America. He sees it as something deeply embedded in the origins of the national narrative and as offering common ground outside the echo chambers of radical secularism and religious nationalism. Gorski suggests that opposing sides in America’s culture wars will do better if they learn from civil religion and come to speak the other’s language with respect. For example, like some of the nation’s founders secularists could appeal to the religious by couching arguments about institutional autonomy in theology. Unlike so-called “third way” compromises civil religion is not a bolt on solution but rather a profound set of shared beliefs that have long constituted a deep common commitment. The key is to know we are arguing over the same values.
Congratulations Phil on your public intervention with this landmark study!