Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-03-03
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

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

This article shared 3040 times since Wed May 7, 2014
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.


This article shared 3040 times since Wed May 7, 2014
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

The Amazon Trail Covid 19 Pioneer 2021-02-13
- Now that President Biden and Vice President Harris are in office, I've been able to have my first Covid 19 vaccine shot. It was no big deal. I went to our county fairgrounds expecting to be injected through my car window, ...


Gay News

GLAAD: Senators vote against response to riot but introduce anti-trans bill 2021-02-10
--From a press release - Five of the eight senators objecting to Electoral College votes and voting against the second Trump impeachment trial have cosponsored a new bill targeting transgender youth, adding to history of anti-LGBTQ votes and views GLAAD: "More ...


Gay News

LETTER Federal anti-discrimination protection? Inevitable 2021-02-06
- =The astute can predict the future—with more than a modicum of confidence—by examining history. Nate Silver did this last year at fivethirtyeight.com, as did Vegas oddsmakers, in predicting the victory of President Joe Biden over der ...


Gay News

OP-ED Gorman's inauguration poem has Black women talking 2021-01-26
- Amanda Gorman mesmerized a nation with her inauguration poem "The Hill We Climb." The beauty of her presence and the power of her words captured a country battle-scarred and looking for a lifeline. "After four years ...


Gay News

Letter: Greed overrides common sense 2021-01-25
- Jeffrey Sanker, founder of the White Party concept decades ago, is now at the center of brewing online civil war in the gay community. It was reported by some online LGBTQ media news outlets such as ...


Gay News

LETTER: Unnecessary legislation 2021-01-19
- To the Editor: At a time when Illinois lawmakers should be supporting healthcare heroes who are working tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic, we instead receive unwelcome new legislation that will drive up the costs of practicing ...


Gay News

OP-ED: New Year's Eve circuit parties go on despite COVID-19 travel concerns 2021-01-08
- This past New Year's Eve, thousands of gay men flocked to Mexico to attend a New Year's eve "White Party" hosted by long time party promoter Jeffrey Sanker—the host of the annual white party in Palm ...


Gay News

OPINION Where do we go from here (redux)? 2020-12-28
- The year 2020 has been a stressful one. With George Floyd's death as an inflection point about race and racism in America, an unprecedented presidential election and social unrest during an ongoing pandemic with a rising ...


Gay News

VIEWS Taking care of your mental health during a COVID holiday season 2020-11-26
By Adam Ouanes - This holiday season is unlike any before, and it leaves many people feeling unsure about how to get into the holiday spirit. It's not unusual for many people to find this time of year overwhelming, but ...


Gay News

The Amazon Trail: Rats fleeing a sinking ship 2020-11-14
- I've heard the idiom "like rats fleeing a sinking ship" often lately, and while the metaphor is apt for what's going on in the United States, at our house it's even more befitting. Merriam Webster notes, ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Harris stands on shoulders of giants 2020-11-09
- The struggle to get President-elect Joe Biden to the finish line first with 270 electoral college votes was unquestionably an epic battle. However, Biden's battle wasn't a century-long one like women finally winning the right to ...


Gay News

Lilly Wachowski: Refuse Fascism, at the Ballot Box and in the Street 2020-11-02
Video below - In a rare, public and political statement, filmmaker Lilly Wachowski (co-creator of The Matrix trilogy, V for Vendetta, Sense8) published this personal essay on the literary website, LitHub.com, calling on people to "Refuse Fascism, at the ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Is Pope Francis' support of civil unions just lip service? 2020-10-29
- Pope Francis has expressed support for civil unions in the Catholic Church. Once again, the pontiff has sent shockwaves across the globe to 1.3 billion of his followers with another LGBTQ- affirming statement. However, this one ...


Gay News

LETTER Thank you, Pope Francis 2020-10-22
- I never thought I would live to see the day when a pope would endorse civil rights for LGBTQ couples. Praise God for His Grace. Also, the many Roman Catholic individuals and organizations who worked so ...


Gay News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett 2020-10-22
- Women-Church Convergence, a coalition of Catholic-rooted organizations including DignityUSA, deplores the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. We have serious concerns about the judgment of any nominee ...


 



Copyright © 2021 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


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.