Religio Civica

One of the things that has circled around through the treacherous swamp that is my mind over the past year is how and why patriotism or any kind of national passion has become the sole provenance of fundamentalist Christians.  And by that, I mean how in popular media discourse it seems that the only way one can believeably profess to be a patriotic American is by being a jingoistic conservative Christian. Doesn’t seem to matter if you’re religious or not, if you do hundreds of hours of community service or not; whether or not you’ve sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears for this country and its people (the one exception seems to be members of the military, but given the reaction that service members in favor of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” got from the Right, even that sacred cow doesn’t seem as sacred as it once was).

I’m not saying that this is the actual state of things, just what I’ve gleaned from the national dialogue. I could be wrong in my interpretation, of course, but whether or not this is the true state of things in America is not the point of this post. The role of religion in national sentiment and activity is.

I’ll admit, I’ve always identified more as a cosmopolitan than a flag-waving patriotic American, seeing the vast masses of humanity as my countrymen and -women and the Earth as my homeland. But, I’d be delusional to think that the fact that I was born and raised in the United States (and still reside here) doesn’t mean that I’m not invested in what happens here. But, I’m also a very religious person, and so, as I started getting more interested in politics, community awareness and activity in the last few years, the thought struck me:

Why is the only stereotype regarding religious, patriotic citizens in this country focused on Christian fundamentalists?

Why do they have the corner on that particular “market”? Why isn’t there more dialogue or stories regarding the efforts of Buddhists, Hindus, Native Americans, or even pagans?

It was about that point when I started entertaining the idea of developing a more civically-oriented religious practice for pagans: liturgies for developing relationships with the genii loci of one’s community (street, neighborhood, city, etc.), recognizing and honoring our own (national) mythic figures (e.g. – the Eagle, Uncle Sam, Columbia/Lady Liberty, Brother Jonathan, the Founding Fathers, etc.), and returning a sense of sacred ritual to civic duties among other things. While I haven’t been able to get a lot done with it thus far, I have been able to come up with a small devotional/prayer for the impending national election tomorrow:

Approach the altar, light incense and votive candle, center yourself with a few deep breaths, and say:

“Blessed Kindreds:
Honored Founders, Majestic Eagle, Great Columbia and Uncle Sam:
This day the citizens of our nation exercise their greatest civil right
And their most sacred duty – they Vote.
May wisdom, duty to community, and the desire for freedom for all
Guide our choices.
So be it.”

My aim is to do more with this since I know that it’s helped me to be more motivated politically (not that I plan on running for office or anything like that, but to be more aware, informed, and active as a citizen), and hopefully having more material along these lines out there will help other pagans feel more connected and invested in the country that they call home (whatever country that might be; this idea is by no means Amero-centric). Because while our society is secular, to think that every single citizen is going quarantine their religious life from their political life is naive. Religious citizens, of course, shouldn’t attempt to shove their views and tradition-based prohibitions (e.g. – refraining from drinking alcohol, refraining from abortions, etc.) on to the whole of the citizenry at large; but that doesn’t mean that religion can’t be used as a positive route to increased civic activity for individual citizens.

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~ by crow365 on November 5, 2012.

One Response to “Religio Civica”

  1. […] few months ago I wrote about my fledgling steps to begin building a civically-oriented religious practice for myself, […]

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