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The Civil Rights Movement and American Civil Religion

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Abstract:

Although traditionally outsiders in America’s civil religion, leaders in the Civil Rights Movement utilized appeals to civil religious rhetoric and the ideals shared by the larger population to advance their cause. The appeals were made in such a way as to lay claim to the idea that segregation and other forms of discrimination were violations of the American civic creed. In reality, they argued, the African-Americans who were discriminated against held more closely the tenets of the civic religion than did the white southerners who were perpetuating the discrimination.

This interpretation sheds light not only on the methods used in the Civil Rights Movement, but also on the process of change in the content of the American civil religion. American civil religion necessarily expands when either: 1) there evolves a large section of the population that is traditionally outside of the boundaries of the ruling civil society and that must be incorporated into the civil society to maintain peace, or 2) there develops a recognition in the mainstream population that there is a severe violation of ideals of the civil religion which needs to be rectified. In the case of the Civil Rights Movement, both of these conditions are met.

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civil (95), american (80), religion (73), right (28), movement (26), religi (25), appeal (22), group (22), white (22), state (21), polit (20), nation (20), rhetor (19), part (18), african (17), one (16), human (16), ostrac (15), new (13), use (12), found (12),
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Name: Southern Political Science Association
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http://www.spsa.net


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MLA Citation:

Hanson, Darrin. "The Civil Rights Movement and American Civil Religion" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Hotel Intercontinental, New Orleans, LA, Jan 09, 2008 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p212535_index.html>

APA Citation:

Hanson, D. , 2008-01-09 "The Civil Rights Movement and American Civil Religion" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Hotel Intercontinental, New Orleans, LA Online <PDF>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p212535_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Although traditionally outsiders in America’s civil religion, leaders in the Civil Rights Movement utilized appeals to civil religious rhetoric and the ideals shared by the larger population to advance their cause. The appeals were made in such a way as to lay claim to the idea that segregation and other forms of discrimination were violations of the American civic creed. In reality, they argued, the African-Americans who were discriminated against held more closely the tenets of the civic religion than did the white southerners who were perpetuating the discrimination.

This interpretation sheds light not only on the methods used in the Civil Rights Movement, but also on the process of change in the content of the American civil religion. American civil religion necessarily expands when either: 1) there evolves a large section of the population that is traditionally outside of the boundaries of the ruling civil society and that must be incorporated into the civil society to maintain peace, or 2) there develops a recognition in the mainstream population that there is a severe violation of ideals of the civil religion which needs to be rectified. In the case of the Civil Rights Movement, both of these conditions are met.

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Document Type: PDF
Page count: 15
Word count: 4599
Text sample:
The Civil Rights Movement and American Civil Religion Darrin M. Hanson Department of Political Science Xavier University of Louisiana 1 Drexel Drive Box #151 New Orleans LA 70125 dhanson@xula.edu A paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the Southern Political Science Association New Orleans LA January 11 2008. Although traditionally foreigners to America’s civil religion leaders in the Civil Rights Movement utilized appeals to civil religious rhetoric and the ideals shared by the larger population to advance their cause.
leaders were attempting to appeal to mainstream white America it would make sense to appeal to them in language that they accept and interpret as part of their corporate identity. In effect civil rights leaders were saying “If you really believe the things you say you believe you need to include us as part of you. If you exclude us you are violating your own principles.” Studying the rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement within this framework can enable


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