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Varieties of Civil Religion by Robert Bellah and Phillip E. Hammond

Robert N. Bellah is Ford Professor of Sociology and Comparative Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Phillip E. Hammond is Professor of Religious Studies and Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara. Copyright by Robert N. Bellah and Phillip E. Hammond.

Chapter 3: The Conditions for Civil Religion: A Comparison of the United States and Mexico

The discussion of civil religion often permits a mischievous conclusion that the existence of a civil religion is fortuitous, a mere cultural "choice." Thus Ferdinand Mount, in an otherwise astute essay on America’s bicentennial, comments on the shock effect of Watergate: What Europeans are bewildered by is the American’s affectation of pained surprise on receiving a specific proof of the corruption he knows to be endemic to his political system. This amiable hypocrisy surely derives from a more intense commitment to that system (italics added)."1 Such word choice suggests a dash of reality or a sprinkling of cynicism is all that is required to keep Americans from having a civil religion or at least believing in it. The "intense commitment" Mount refers to is apparently seen as voluntary only, an individual matter of taste. However, such a view is hardly tenable if one regards a civil religion -- like any religion -- as more than a public relations matter. More is at stake than that, a point nicely exemplified in the following description of Shintõ: "traditionally speaking, a Japanese person could not divorce himself from Shintõ. Until recent times Shintõ has tended to define the weight of his cultural and religious heritage. On both the local and national plane Shintõ hallows his homeland and his people, as well as the nexus of the religious, political, and natural order. Given this situation, we can understand why Shintõ scholars proudly emphasize that Shintõ is a natural expression of Japanese life, rather than the product of a definite set of doctrines or a conscious conversion."2 In other words, civil religion is a social phenomenon; sacred citizenship for Robinson Crusoe is not possible. In fact, a civil religion in a strict sense may be quite unusual.

The American Civil Religion

That there is a civil religion in America seems generally accepted. However, such assertion does not mean a single, overarching ideology serves to legitimate -- in a functional sense -- whatever the United States and/or its leaders do, since the ideology also provides the language in terms of which they are judged. Nor does the assertion mean all Americans believe equally in the ideology or mean by it the same thing in all respects. (There were probably some agnostics among the Arunta, too.) What the assertion does mean is a widespread acceptance by Americans of a few religiopolitical tenets regarding their nation’s history and destiny. And it also means an attention by the leader-elites -- perhaps especially the cultural elite but including the religious and political elite -- to the more elaborate implications of these tenets. Thus Wimberley and his associates have found in the 1970s, among a large if not absolutely representative sample of North Carolinians, 74 percent agreement with the statement: "Human rights come from God and not merely from laws." Fully 78 percent claim the U.S. flag is "sacred." And remarkably, inasmuch as this particular tenet has undergone considerable challenge since 1964, a third of the people assent to "America is God’s chosen nation today."3 As for the greater civil religious commitment of the elites, evidence is less clear perhaps but generally supportive.4

Irrespective of percentage agreements however, which have to be vulnerable to headline influences, politics and religion in America "from the beginning . . . contracted an alliance which has never been dissolved."5 The ideology underlying this alliance might be summarized as follows: (1) There is a God (2) whose will can be known through democratic procedures; therefore (3) democratic America has been God’s primary agent in history, and (4) for Americans the nation has been their chief source of identity.6

America’s civil religion is not all benevolent and approving, of course. God’s "New Israel" is not without fault in this doctrine, but it does have a special mission, even if that mission brings paradox and agony. There is the likelihood, moreover, as Ahlstrom concludes in his massive religious history of the American people, that by the 1970s "Americans, whether conservative, liberal, or radical, found it increasingly difficult to believe that the United States was still a beacon and blessing to the world. Even less were they prepared to understand themselves as chosen to suffering and servanthood."7

The folly of Vietnam accompanied by a failure of nerve in civil rights and followed by Watergate no doubt put American civil religion to severe test. The challenge at the cultural level may be too great, and Americans may be undergoing a profound change in the way they relate their society to the realm of ultimate meaning. Certainly one is more inclined to think so to the degree civil religion is viewed as mere individual choice, since one can observe cynicism replacing faith, pessimism replacing hope. But I am arguing civil religion depends upon conditions independent of particular individuals and events. As with all institutions, civil religion is the accretion of many individuals and events and may be eroded by them as well, but if the American civil religion is on the wane, an institutional analysis is required if one is fully to understand what is occurring.

The Concept Revisited

It is instructive to reflect on why Rousseau was concerned about civil religion, advocated it, and coined the term for it. No doubt part of the reason was to provide a substitute belief system for those whose faiths had been shattered by the forces of Enlightenment. But there is a more important reason. Civil religion was not to be just another religion; its purpose was precisely to harmonize religion and politics. Pagan religions had been so co-extensive with their political orders that "there was no way of converting a people but by enslaving them." Christianity, by projecting a "kingdom of the other world," changed all that. "Jesus came to establish on earth a spiritual kingdom, which, separating the religious from the political system, destroyed the unity of the State. . . . [A] perpetual conflict of jurisdiction has resulted from this double power, which has rendered any good polity impossible in Christian States; and no one has ever succeeded in understanding whether he was bound to obey the ruler or the priest."8

Authority, then, is the crux of the matter -- more precisely, authority to set jurisdictional boundaries and invoke transcendental sanctions. For these twin problems Rousseau offers a single solution: civil religion. Civil religion is religious because it is necessary that citizens be disposed to "love their duties," and it is civil because its sentiments are those of "sociability, without which it is impossible to be either a good citizen or a faithful subject." Therefore, "the dogmas of civil religion ought to be simple, few in number, precisely fixed, and without explanation or comment. The existence of a powerful, wise, and benevolent Divinity, who foresees and provides the life to come, the happiness of the just, the punishment of the wicked, the sanctity of the social contract and the laws: these are its positive dogmas. Its negative dogmas I would confine to one -- intolerance. . . ."9

Rousseau’s overall concern in Social Contract is to identify an effective but nondespotic government, a vehicle for expressing the general will. In the book’s final part, he discusses several means for "strengthening the constitution of the State," and it is in this context he introduces the notion of civil religion, an aid in governing. Clearly, by calling it "civil," he intended it in some sense to be independent of the church, and, by calling it "religion" he likewise intended it to be independent of the ruling regime. These two features, when cross-classified, not only identify Rousseau’s notion of civil religion but also suggest two other ideological situations that have sometimes been regarded as civil religions. 10

The two dimensions are continuous variables, not dichotomous; so one may speak of "degrees" of Rousseau’s civil religion. There are shadings -- between civil religion and ecclesiastical legitimizing or between civil religion and secular nationalism. For example, the "political religions" observed in some developing nations would appear to be more than secular nationalistic


Table I - Two Dimensions of Civil Religion p. 44

(Is it religious and not the state

not just secular?) NO Secular nationalism

(text, cont.)


ideologies. Yet having little in the way of any "theology" independent of the state, they are not fully civil religions in Rousseau’s meaning of that term.

The point is not to be arbitrary about definitions, however, but rather to reveal the following theoretical issue: All three kinds of ideologies in Table have been called civil religions, but there are obvious differences among them. All represent "links," as Coleman calls them, by which persons may connect their "society’s place in space, time, and history to the conditions of ultimate existence and meaning."11 But these various links emerge from different social conditions. The conditions are what I explore here.

The point is furthered when it is recognized that, like all belief systems, civil religions must be "carried" by organizational "vehicles." The question is which organizations do the carrying. Rousseau seems to suggest the most fully developed civil religion relies exclusively on neither the church nor the state but to a significant degree at least counts on independent vehicles for its support. Whether this occurs depends not only upon the existence of such independent vehicles but also upon the capacity of church personnel and state personnel to cooperate. In the case of the former, can they relinquish a monopoly on "God talk" about the nation? In the case of the latter, can they adopt a theological rhetoric? If civil religious ideologies are thought of as balloons, I am asking who is able and willing to hold the balloon strings.

Conceived in this fashion the study of civil religion shifts some distance out of the Durkheim camp, where it has generally been. All communities of people may project their "collective representations," as Durkheim had it, but how they do so -- and whether in the manner of Rousseau’s civil religion -- depends upon particular conditions. These conditions are made clearer by a comparative analysis of the United States and Mexico.

Factors Conducive to a Mexican Civil Religion

The day following the inauguration of President Carter, Excelsior, a leading newspaper of Mexico City, reported the event in a story filed by its Washington correspondent. "More than political," the headline read, "it was an act almost religious." The story then detailed not only certain obvious religious features of the event, such as the use of a Bible and the invoking of God’s name, but it went to extraordinary length in describing the "mysterious silence," the "intense expressions as if in a "trance" on the faces of some participants, and the "patriotic tears" among many in the audience. 12

By itself the story is not strange, perhaps. But less than two months before, Mexico had inaugurated President José Lopez Portillo in a ceremony no less resplendent and public. And the following day Excelsior devoted many pages to stories and pictures of the event. But nowhere is there mention of "mystery," "intense emotion," or "tears." The president’s address is fully reported and the clothing worn by all the participants is carefully described, but no hint is given that Mexico was experiencing an event "almost religious"13

In some respects this absence of a religious flavor in the Mexican inauguration is puzzling because so much in Mexican history would augur a robust civil religion. As a result of immigration and intermarriage it early became an ethnically plural society. Its urge for independence became a reality, and without entangling alliances. For nearly as long as the United States, in other words, Mexico has been -- with the exception of a few years under Maximilian -- a politically autonomous nation-state.

Like the United States, Mexico fought a long and bitter civil war, a war in which ever inclusive rights to full citizenship were claimed and in principle at least were won. This war, begun in 1910, is called The Revolution, and Mexico even today exalts in its revolutionary past, so much so that the historian Brandenburg was able to identify what he calls the "creed" or set of values that emerged from the revolution and to which verbal commitment is nearly universal.14 This creed is embodied in the only political party to rule since the revolution, the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI. It has had no serious challenge at the polls, although opposition parties exist and are encouraged by the ruling regime.

Numerous heroes are remembered from this history, beginning with Hidalgo and Morelos, two Catholic priests who led the war for independence. Those who helped forge constitutionalism in the nineteenth century, especially Benito Juárez, who engineered the 1857 constitution and served as president, are regarded as "fathers" of the country and frequently compared with Washington or Jefferson. The revolution contributes many names to the patriotic platform: Madero, whose challenge to the Diaz dictatorship triggered the civil war; those generals, Zapata and Villa, whose exploits are now so romanticized; and those who led the transition to peace and established a stable government -- Carranza and Obregón. Even as recent a president as Cárdinas (1934-1940) is remembered heroically, in part because he accomplished some of the land reform the revolution promised but also because he brought about the nationalization of the oil industry, thereby flexing Mexico’s muscle in front of United States and English power. These are only the biggest of the heroes, however. Dozens of others are honored by statues, parks, fountains, and in the naming of streets, cities, and states. These combine with ubiquitous wall slogans, holidays, and the flag to give Mexico an overwhelmingly nationalistic flavor. Whether in city or remote countryside, the nation’s history is constantly remembered.

More pertinent to civil religion is the great influence Comte and Spencer exercised with Mexican public educators. Public education was practically nonexistent until the final decades of the nineteenth century, schools being largely church operated and attended by the well-to-do. But then education became a national endeavor, designed by men who have shared something of an outlook ever since.15 The first of these educational philosophers shared the positivism that marked the Diaz regime, the extreme "human engineering" view. Included was the idea that schools were to mold citizens for society, independent of church and home. Christianity could no longer be taught as such, but, said Ignacio Altamirano, "democracy as religion" should be. In the 1890sJusto Sierra became the center of an intellectual movement that has been called the "Athaeneum of Youth." While trying to temper the positivism of their predecessors with a non-churchly "spiritualism," Sierra and his adherents continued to regard education in terms of the "positivist sociology of Comte, Littré, and Spencer."16 Sierra oversaw the opening (in 1910) of the National University out of what had been the Pontifical University. This he did "to nationalize learning, to Mexicanize knowledge." But as minister of public education he also "wanted to ‘realize the religion of the motherland in the soul of the child,’ to create what he called ‘the civic religion, the religion which unites and unifies.’ "17 Toward this end Sierra even drew up a list of American "saints," which included Washington and Lincoln from the north, Bolivar and Marti from the south, and Hidalgo and Juárez from Mexico.18 This group who controlled public education during the decades prior to the revolution clearly wanted to create a civil religion.

The interruption for internal war disrupted public educational development for about ten years, but when President Obregón took office in 1920, he appointed as Minister of Education José Vasconcelos, who had been a young member of Sierra’s Athaeneum. Indeed, Vasconcelos had created the motto for Sierra’s national university – "By virtue of my race the spirit shall speak" -- and he attacked the problem of public education with the same religio-national zeal as had his predecessors. He was the "apostle of the new secular religion" as he sought teachers of comparable fervor who would join what he called "a holy crusade for civilization."19 Vasconcelos never accepted his predecessors’ positivism -- wherein are studied only "phenomena," he said, and not "noumena" -- but he advanced their goal of an education with strong national flavor.20 Under his leadership the federal constitution was revised to permit greater federal participation and centralization. (Today a uniform curriculum and free textbooks for the primary grades are supplied by the government.) Federal appropriation rose from 1 percent of the budget just prior to 1920 to 15 percent in 1923. 21 Vasconcelos wrote La Raza Cósmica [The cosmic race], in which he imagined "the white, the Indian, the Negro, and the yellow, united in a synthetic ideal . . . the final inclusive race."22

With the new pride in things Mexican, the sixteenth-century Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec commander, joined the parade of heroes, even as Cortés was forever condemned.23 And in the effort to exalt in the indigenous, the grandeur of local artists was recognized and utilized. Vasconcelos, for example, commissioned the first of the famed Mexican murals. "Nowhere was the religious fervor of the Revolution more apparent than in the secular propagandistic painting of José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Siqueiros. In the colonial era, with the Catholic Church in its ascendance, the native artistic genius found its outlet in the building and decorating of churches. Under the Revolution this genius burst forth again, but now to glorify and explain the new gospel of the secular rival of the Church -- the nationalistic government."24

It is clear that Mexico has had not only a dramatic past to exalt and an optimistic future to portray but also a means -- public education -- for doing so. Moreover, for decades it has operated with an educational theory that encourages and justifies a worshipful attitude toward the state. As recently as 1941 the Organic Law of Public Education was revised to direct the Ministry of Education to "weld Mexicans into a single spiritual nucleus."25

Catholicism as a Means to Civil Religion

Mexico is a Roman Catholic society. Franciscans, beginning in 1528, followed by Jesuits and Dominicans, swarmed over New Spain and "in an amazingly brief period, completely replaced the native priests as the natural leaders of Indian society."26 This spiritual conquest was made easier by the number of similarities between the Indian religion and Christianity, similarities in theology, organization, and especially ritual. If the friars had to bend a little in their European orthodoxy, they nevertheless found parallel practices regarding the cross, baptism, confession, communion, feast days, and fasting. Assimilation of Catholicism was relatively easy and nearly complete.

It was assimilation, however, and not wholesale substitution of Catholicism for its native predecessor. The result was (is) a "strange hybrid of superstition and idolatrous religious concepts."27 (Good discussions of this hybrid are in Quirk and especially Brenner.28) Since any imported religion is likely to take on characteristics of its host society, the hybridization of Catholicism in Mexico would not ordinarily be worth remarking. However, in this case the superstitions and idol worship have remained uncommonly independent of church and priest, a point whose importance will become clear presently.29

With independence Mexico remained Catholic. During the war both the loyalists and the rebels invoked the name of the church, and clergy were active on both sides. While it is true that the two prominent priest-leaders, Hidalgo and Morelos, were denounced, excommunicated, and shot as traitors, they had no intention of giving up the Church. Indeed, Hidalgo was filled with remorse for all the blood he and his soldiers had spilled and, after his capture in 1811, returned to the bosom of the "Holy Mother Church."30 And when Morelos drew up a constitution in 1814 -- the year before his execution -- he "specifically guaranteed the sanctity of Roman Catholicism as the only religion to be tolerated in Mexico."31

While Morelos’s Constitution of Apatzingán was never put into practice, the plan of Iguala (1821), drawn up by Iturbide after independence, also confirmed the official status of Catholicism as the state religion and denied toleration to all other religions.32 The war for independence, in other words, was reasonably conservative in purpose, especially with respect to the church. The rebel priests would have abolished clerical fueros (special legal jurisdictions whereby canon law courts superseded civil courts), but chiefly they wanted, as native-born priests, the same rights as Spanish-born priests. By extrapolation they wanted to abolish as well the marked distinction between the wealthy, land-owning (Spanish-born) class and the Mexican-born and mestizo peasant classes.

A few years later (1824) Mexico’s first Constitution reaffirmed both the relative conservatism of the independence movement and its commitment to a state church, which "will be perpetually the Roman Catholic Apostolic."33 Such ecclesiastical concern was not surprising in view of the near-universal identification of Mexicans as "Catholic," along with church control of 20 percent to 70 percent of Mexico’s wealth. (The larger estimate is older and entrenched, but the smaller is probably more accurate.)34

Even with the rise of "liberalism" in the 1820s and the formation of a so-called "anticlerical" party, clergymen were to be found among the leaders’ ranks. That is to say, while all liberals favored curtailment of the Church’s worldly power and proclaimed the supremacy of civil power, they were not necessarily "antireligious."35 The role of Freemasonry in Mexican liberalism has been asserted, for example, but, while its presence is undeniable, its "anti-Catholicism" is by no means obvious. Instead, what the liberal reformers wanted was a classic separation of church and state, allowing each institution freedom within its own sphere – "as long as the government could define the spheres." 36

For a forty-year period this issue of church-state separation was fought over. Benito Juárez, supreme court justice and then president, was the liberals’ foremost leader and engineer of the 1857 constitution (for which he is now honored by schoolchildren as the first among national heroes).37 Earlier outlawed had been any but "secular" education and the use of civil machinery to enforce religious vows and payment of church tithes. In 1857 the Church was stripped of all real estate except worship centers, and the registration of births, marriages, and deaths was made a civil affair. Two years later a number of other curtailments on the Church -- known as the Reform Laws -- were passed. They officially separated church and state, forbade public officeholders from attending religious services "in any official capacity," made marriage a civil act, and legalized divorce.38 (Rousseau saw the importance, in the struggle between church and state, of the authority to marry. Should the church succeed in claiming this sole right, he commented on the last page of the Social Contract, "it will render ineffectual . . . the Prince, which will no longer have any subjects except those which the clergy are pleased to give it. . . [I]s it not clear that by behaving prudently and keeping firm, the church alone will dispose of heritances, offices, citizens, and the state itself, which cannot subsist when only composed of bastards?")

Admittedly, these laws (and others yet to come) were anticlerical. But while there was some "atheistic" support for them, such sentiment was not controlling. The chief desire was to create a representative, republican, and democratic government. Most of the liberals remained Catholic. The i857 constitution preamble, after all, began, "In the name of God and by the authority of the Mexican people." And when Gomez Fariás approached the document as first signer, he knelt and "swore by the Holy Gospel to recognize and obey the Constitution." As Simpson says of the reformers’ leader: "To postulate an irreligious or atheistic Juárez is to make him a consummate hypocrite, which he most assuredly was not. He believed in God and Order. With the early Jesuits, he believed that government had its sanction in God’s will expressed through the will of the people. In thus elevating the popular will he naturally ran afoul of the clerical prejudices of the time, but he did so from religious conviction."39

The Diaz regime followed (1876-1910). Freemason Porfirio Diaz was married to a devout Catholic, and his handling of the church-state matter reflected the ambivalence of this common situation. He confiscated Church property one day and permitted the Church to buy new property the next; "anti-clerical legislation was enforced by his left hand, retracted by his right."40

Even in the extreme the constitution of 1917 following the revolution, while undeniably influenced by some delegates bent on destroying the Church, is best described also as "anticlerical" only. That is, like its precursors of 1824 and 1857, it recognized implicitly that the Mexican people are "Catholic" and will have churches; it simply asserted unquestioned governmental authority to set the limits on the churches’ domain.

Because of the nature of church-state relations in the history of Mexico, therefore, a current of anticlericalism has been a major force for over a century. Yet Mexico remains profoundly Catholic in its hybrid way. By 1960 Protestants still amounted to only 1.6 percent of the population and Jews 0.3 percent.41

Has Mexico a Civil Religion?

Given such an overwhelmingly monolithic and continuing religious heritage and given such an intense national experience, has Mexico blended them into a civil religion? Do politics and religion harmonize in Mexico? They do not in the sense of Rousseau’s meaning of that term. There is no transcendental ideology at once independent of both church and state. Mexico has a rather vibrant nationalism, but it is secular; it is not transcendent but remains the domain of the state. And Mexico continues to have a widespread appreciation for the transcendental, but this appreciation is largely apolitical; it remains, in a peculiar way, the domain of the church.

Consider, first, nationalism as a potential civil religion. That it is intense is hardly questioned.42 And it grows year by year, largely as a result of government effort to use education as a unifying, pride-producing agency.

[T]he goals of leadership groups have been successfully wedded with the values and attitude of the people. There is a good deal of pride in the political and economic institutions in Mexico, despite Mexico’s still "developing nation" status. Though the average Mexican’s cognitions of the political world and his ability to affect political decisions are low, he nevertheless has an unusual faith in his country. The revolutionary turmoil of 1910-1930 has been well integrated into the national memorabilia and, perhaps, is second only to the Bolshevik Revolution in representing a striking example of the impact of an historical occurrence.43

Scott estimates that the proportion of Mexican citizens without even a concept of the nation has declined from 90 percent in 1910 to 25 percent in 1963.44 Inasmuch as the population nearly tripled during that period, the expansion of nationalistic sentiment has been enormous.

But this pride, this nationalism, is decidedly secular. It is not believed God authored the laws of Mexico or "chose" Mexico as a divine instrument. At least that is my estimate. These kinds of questions have not been asked in opinion surveys in Mexico, as nearly as I could determine. Personnel at the Mexican affiliate of International Research Associates doubted that such questions would even have meaning to the Mexican public, a judgment shared by several prominent Mexican social scientists with whom I talked. The ruling party covers almost every available wall on main streets with political slogans (for example, "Fatherland is first," "To serve is the highest duty," "We work for the causes of Mexico," or "We follow the road of the Revolution"), but not one refers to God or any other sacred idea.

Another potential source of civil religious sentiment is the corrido, the ballad or poem detailing some event in the nation’s history. Existing both as an oral tradition and in print on cheap paper for wide distribution, these corridos are often sagas of heroic daring or noble suffering and thus candidates for expression of links between religion and politics. A careful review of a random sample of corridos from the revolutionary period (drawn from Vincente T. Mendoza, El Corrido de la Revolución Mexicana [The corrido of the Mexican Revolution], and Armando Maria v Campos, La Revolución Mexicana a Travez de los Corridos Populáres [The Mexican revolution through popular ballads]) reveals little or nothing to suggest that the troubadours saw Mexican destiny in any transcendental manner. As sponsor of the nationalism, in other words, the state makes no use of transcendental language nor, apparently, do citizens in thinking about their nation. The distance between this nationalism and a civil religion thus appears great.

Consider next the context of sacred ideas and language as a potential civil religion. There remains the church, which is still attended by some on a regular basis and by many on an occasional basis. More broadly, there is the vast "cultic" activity surrounding saints, giving rise to assessments of Mexico as the leading Catholic country in Latin America. The display of religious symbols is very common. It is not unusual to read on the dashboard of a taxi "God goes with us" or "Holy virgin, protect me. Shrines are not rare -- in homes, of course, but also in bus depots, in flower markets, alongside the melon stand, on the highway, and so forth. The most popular of these shrine figures is the Virgin of Guadalupe, a dark-skinned (Indian) Mary whose veneration goes back to 1531.45 A basilica in her honor stands now at the place where she first appeared to a humble Indian, Juan Diego; and hundreds of thousands of Mexicans from all over the nation make pilgrimages there on the edge of Mexico City. They implore her and thank her, for in such manner a certain "predictable" order enters their lives. As Brenner says, "Countlessly, every day, Guadalupe is on the lips and in the thoughts of all Mexico."46 Her cult is the strongest and most widespread.

There is no doubt the cult is national, moreover. Not only is the dark virgin "the single most powerful element in Mexican Catholicism," but her very darkness has enabled her to symbolize the postcolonial, miscegenized mestizo nation.47 It is not uncommon today for recent immigrants (for example, from the Spanish Civil War) and their children to be targets of discrimination. One epithet for them is "whitey" and indicates not so much skin color as "incompleteness" as a Mexican. The educated and the wealthy may not publicly honor the Virgin of Guadalupe. Certainly they do not walk for miles to make her a pilgrimage, let alone cover the last hundred yards walking on bare knees, as do many poor people. But hers is a national symbol nevertheless. Her banner led in the war of independence and appeared again in the revolution. Not everyone believes the myth about Juan Diego and the miraculous image on his cape, but everyone recognizes the national character of the cult. Guadalupe’s basilica is, as Brenner puts it, "the Mexican navel."

But while the cult of Guadalupe is national, it is not particularly "civil" or political. Zapata’s armies may have carried her image into battle, but they did so knowing they had no monopoly on her. The other side carried her, too, and for the same reasons: to ensure one’s own safety, a loved one’s fidelity, improved health, and so forth. In other words, the cult of Guadalupe involves more personal than civic or political acts. The dark virgin’s office is implored so that God is on my side, not on our side. And so it is, to a large extent, with the other saints’ cults as well, a point vividly illustrated in the testimony of several of the children of Sanchez, for whom the Lord of Chalma (another cult, centered about sixty miles southwest of Mexico City) was the focus of their spiritual life.48 Even when the cult is community oriented -- as in the case of agricultural saints -- it remains largely apolitical. Under these circumstances the distance between this theology and a civil religion also appears great.

So Mexico has no civil religion of the sort Rousseau discussed. It had in its history an ecclesiastical legitimizing of the state, a religious heritage that lingers now as cultish attention to saints and shrines; and it has now a vibrant secular nationalism. But these two ideological forces have not merged as they must if a single ideology -- which is both civil and religious -- is to occur. Mexico would seem to have been ripe for such a development; so why it did not appear requires an explanation. In the search for this explanation we shall discover something more of the conditions for civil religion.

El Cid Versus Cuauhtemoc: Church versus State in Mexico

Cuauhtemoc, the last Aztec leader to defend against the Spanish invaders, has already been introduced here as a national hero, a symbol of the secular state. El Cid, for whom an occasional restaurant in Mexico is named and about whom Robin Hood-type movies sometimes appear, is somewhat more obscure. He was an eleventh-century Spanish figure who helped drive the Moors from Valencia. In a burst of religiopatriotic zeal in 1924, Father Cantú Corro tried to put these two characters together and extol them as joint symbols of the Mexican spirit: the true church and the true nation. He failed because while for centuries church and state did make common cause in New Spain, for the past century and a half the situation has clearly been one of church versus state. Therein lies the failure to develop a Mexican civil religion, but the explanation is not as clear-cut as it might first appear.

Mexican church-state mutuality -- an instance of what I have called "ecclesiastical legitimation of the state" -- began to deteriorate in the eighteenth century. That deterioration helped bring about the pressure for autonomy from Spain and helps to explain why priests figured prominently in the movement. The struggle between church and state can thus be dated from 1810, when the priest Hidalgo emitted his "Grito de Dolores" and touched off the war for independence. By the 1830s classically "liberal" sentiment was entrenched in Mexican politics. It was often manifested as anticlerical, and indeed some politicians probably were more anticlerical than proanything. But most of its supporters were converts to the Anglo-French-American political theories of liberty and equality. They desired freedom, and the church was one of the barriers. By 1857 these reformers had built significant constraints around the political and economic power of the Church, and by 1876 these constraints were firmly and legally established. Pope Pius IX responded to the 1857 constitution by declaring "null and void the said decrees and everything else that the civil authority has done in scorn of ecclesiastical authority and of this Holy See."49 But the cause was lost. Maximilian’s defeat in 1867, followed by the presidency of Juárez and the constitutionalization of the Lerdo Law, meant the liberal reformers had won the political battle. For example, two priests in Saltillo in 1882 argued that the law requiring priests to get proof of civil registry of birth or marriage before performing Christian baptism or marriage violated the constitutional separation of church and state. They had to argue in civil courts, however, using the amparo (writ of judicial review provided for in the constitution); and they lost.50 The Church was not then or ever again to share hegemony in Mexico.

Losing the political battle and losing the battle over symbols are two different things, however. It took the Church another fifty years to acknowledge losing the first battle, but the second battle has not been entirely decided even today. Former President Emilio Portes-Gil, who then became attorney general, wrote in 1935: "The Church is the formidable enemy which the Constitution of 1857 had to face. But in 1914 it found itself again facing that same enemy, and to show this we have had to review anew its attitude throughout the past. In our review we have shown that the stand taken by it against the Law and against the civil authority is exactly the same as in colonial time, just as in 1810, 1822, 1833, 1836, and 1865; and that after the lengthy period enjoyed by it for recovery it has again adopted the same attitude in 1913, 1914, 1917, 1926, and 1934"51 Portes-Gil exaggerates, however. The church never "recovered" after the 1857-1876 period; it had few political weapons, only symbols to fight with. According to Leopoldo Ruiz y Flores, exiled apostolic delegate to Mexico, "The Catholic Church recognizes no human power which can prevent Her from doing anything She Herself deems necessary for the salvation of souls; therefore in spiritual matters She is subordinate to no one."52 The rhetoric dates from the middle ages, but by 1934 such a statement was only rhetoric, an utterance of symbols.

"Mexican history might have been a different story," writes Brandenburg, "if Church had broken with State, hailed Hidalgo and Morelos as Catholic heroes, and encouraged them to lead the masses."53 Indeed, it might have been a different story, but a different story of symbols, not of power. By 1876 the Church was broken from the state politically, whether or not it concurred. The Church’s only options were to join symbols in a combined venture with the state or to withhold them. It took the latter course.54

During the years of the revolution, the Church had reason to side with the liberals, but because the latter were joined by anticlerical radicals (most notably Villa), it chose instead to back the conservative (losing) side. When the constitution of 1917 was drafted, therefore, "Catholic" representation was nonexistent, and the resulting document not only repeated earlier material restrictions on the Church (such as government ownership of all church property, civil registry of priests, and making marriage a civil matter) but also got in a symbolic lick or two (for example, religious garb was not to be worn in public; worship was to be only an indoor affair; alien priests were forbidden; and no religious labels were allowed for political parties). The symbolic nature of the struggle is stated succinctly in Roman’s discussion of the 1917 constitutional congress: "Although other arguments were also used against the clergy, the issue returned time and again to the saving and the building of the nation and to destroying the ideological domination of the church" (italics added).55 Article 3. containing the above restrictions, also declared that primary education is to be free and secular. Since parochial schools constituted so large a part of education in Mexico, this goal was slow in developing. By 1974, 7.8 percent of primary students were still enrolled in private schools, of which half are estimated to be Roman Catholic. Private (and thus Catholic) schools figure more prominently in postprimary education. For example, an estimated 75 percent of the students in Normal Primeria (that is, training to be primary teachers) are in Catholic schools.56 An obvious ambivalence surrounds Catholic education in an overwhelmingly Catholic country whose constitution calls for secular education. Many parents send children to parochial schools because they are believed superior. I was told the attorney general under a recent president did so. When asked how, as chief legal officer of the nation, he justified it, he replied his children’s education was his wife’s concern.

It was a symbolic defiance par excellence by the Church that led to the most recent (and probably final) church-state struggle, the so-called Cristero Rebellion of the 1920s. In 1923 the cornerstone was laid for a monument to Cristo Rey (Christ the King) on a peak in the state of Guanajuato, at the approximate geographic center of the nation. A crowd of forty thousand came and heard, among others, the Vatican representative to Mexico proclaim Christ the king of Mexico. The government, to counteract this blatant "outdoor worship," began registering (and limiting the number of) priests, something the constitution allowed but that had not been enforced. The Church responded by shutting down all churches, and military skirmishes broke out, a festering problem that lasted five years.57

The Cristero Rebellion was serious, of course, but the outcome was never in doubt. Catholic leaders misjudged the nature of the people’s loyalty, for most found it easy enough to honor their saints at shrines whether or not priests were on hand. As Bailey puts it: "[Catholic] loyalty was still very great; few Mexicans had formally abandoned their faith -- but they had, like most people in other Western nations, compartmentalized their lives. The Mexican social cosmos by the 1920s was essentially secular. Religion was Sunday Mass, baptisms . . . the last rites . . . but it was not wages, working conditions, food, housing, and land."58

Periodic stories circulate even today of Catholic conspiracies. The openly conservative Sinarquista party ("without anarchy") flourished briefly in the lg4os, and the second largest political party during the past several decades (PAN) is generally recognized as a "Christian Democratic" party. But even so, PAN ("National Action Party") gets at most 14 percent of regional votes, and its token seats in the legislature serve more to prove the ruling party operates a democracy."59 In the battle of church versus state in Mexico, in other words, the state won. El Cid lost this time to Cuauhtémoc.

Catholic Ambivalence and the Failure of Civil Religion in Mexico

In the opening pages of this chapter, I suggested that development of a Rousseau-type civil religion depends upon the existence of independent organizational vehicles to "carry" it. The independence of those vehicles in turn depends upon whether church personnel are willing and able to relinquish their monopoly on God talk about the nation and whether other persons (in nonreligious roles) are willing and able to adopt such theological rhetoric. I used the metaphor of civil religious balloons and asked who held the strings. Can state (civil) people and church (religious) people grasp the same string, use the same language? For two hundred years in Mexico the general answer has been "no."

To a significant degree persons from the "church" side in Mexico have in recent decades made peace with a government that steadfastly refuses to sponsor them, that insists on religious tolerance instead. These persons have, so to speak, adjusted to a secular, constitutional system; they speak its language. But a comparable shift by civil officials has not occurred. Perhaps the last public official to conduct his office in ecclesiastical language was Octavio Véjar Vásquez, minister of education in the early 1940s. An avowed Catholic conservative, he "confessed his devotion to revealed truth" and wanted schools to train people for their "hierarchic position in creation There can be no education," he said, "without the sign of the Cross behind it."60

But Vásquez was an exceptional case. Without question the larger problem today is for persons in secular roles -- especially politicians -- to engage in God talk. In the 189os the dictator, Porfirio Diaz, had commemorative dinner plates drawn up showing his face and that of Juárez along with the Virgin of Guadalupe, a clear instance of how politics makes strange bedfellows. When President Avila Comacho announced in 1940 that he, too, was a "believer," a ripple was observed. And the government today provides money to build churches (for example, the new basilica honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe), since it owns them anyway. But these examples suggest how awkward it is for politicians to appear sympathetic to religion, how difficult it is for political rhetoric to include transcendent references. Other instances show how pervasive is this difficulty, this ambivalence.

1. Ignacio Comonfort was the first president elected under the constitution of 1857, in which the Church was legally restrained. He exemplifies the cross-pressured position of the Mexican politician. He knew it was necessary to limit the powers of the clergy, but he also believed the Mexican people were devoted to the Church and wanted its ministrations. His own mother was a devout Catholic who pleaded with him not to antagonize the priests.61

2. I have mentioned the Athaeneum of intellectuals and educators who gathered around Justo Sierra in the late nineteenth century and, inspired partly by Spencer and others, tried to create a civil religion for Mexico. Their ambivalence was obvious. Sierra himself remained a doubter, making a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, late in his life to see if his faith might increase. It did not. The literary critic, Samuel Ramos, applies the rule more generally. Citing the Nicaraguan poet Ruben Darió, who "once cried that his soul was the object of contention ‘between the cathedral and pagan ruins,’ " Ramos claims, "When the two heritages met they could not be combined in . . . a new synthesis. . . . Whenever an [Hispanic] American of great consciousness raises his voice in sincere protestation, religious anxiety arises."62

3. A youthful member of the Athaeneum later had an opportunity to do something directly about Mexico’s civil religion. Jose Vasconcelos was appointed minister of education in 1920 and became the "apostle of the new secular religion."63 But the ambivalence showed through. On the one hand education was to be concerned with "practical adjustment and empirical accomplishment . . . [no longer] a foreign institution artificially grafted onto the body politic." On the other hand Vasconcelos contended "Dewey’s accent on ‘all learning by doing’. . . is only an application of Anglo Saxon ‘Protestantism carried to pedagogy.’ "64 Thus Vasconcelos distributed free books to schools throughout the land -- but they were translations of Roman and Greek classics, and schoolchildren could not yet read! Thus he wrote his visionary La Raza Cosmica [The cosmic race], anticipating a synthetic racial ideal -- yet he also wrote of the synthetic race he was charged with educating: "the mestizo population of our land is far from possessing the vigor necessary to create ballet." Thus he was the anticlerical designer of Mexico’s postrevolutionary educational system -- but following a political defeat in 1925 the "temptation . . . really to give up for good and enter a monastery, to pray, making up for the years in which I had not prayed, returned in intense and urgent form." The goal, Vasconcelos said, was "to get back on the track of simple civilized normality" (italics added), that is to say, an eminently traditional and conservative goal.65 It is not surprising that a later educator would judge Vasconcelos’s work as minister of education "chaotically inconsistent, its accomplishments much more apparent than real."66

These vignettes say nothing of a material power struggle between church and state, the sacred and the secular. They reflect instead the symbolic level of social activity. They are therefore trivial by most standards, indicating only the ease or difficulty persons have in grasping one or another ideological balloon by which to articulate their behavior. The argument here is that the civil (political) and religious balloons have not been easy to hold together because of the ambivalence toward the church so widely felt by Mexicans in the civic arena. Two more examples -- again symbolic and trivial -- can be given to help show the pervasiveness of this dilemma.

4. Probably no Mexican painter is better known than Diego Rivera, whose murals adorn so many public buildings in Mexico. An avid revolutionary, Rivera was a firm nationalist and Communist as well. As president of the Communist party in Mexico, for example, it was he who arranged for Trotsky’s exile in that country. The Church suffers terribly in Rivera’s depictions of its clergy as avaricious and cruel. In 1923 Rivera had completed the mural at the National Preparatory School, and he and his co-painters were to be honored by a fiesta. The broadside announcing this celebration made a point, however, of saying that, "all this to give thanks to the Lord who kept them from terrible and horrible fall from the scaffold in nearly a year of most painful labor at the height of almost ten meters."67 What Rivera thought of invoking the Lord’s name on this occasion is not known, but his ambivalence can be assumed. When he painted the famed mural in Mexico City’s Del Prado Hotel (1947 -- 1948), he had one of his characters holding a sign saying "God does not exist." But a year before his death in 1957, Rivera replaced that pronouncement with the innocuous message now there. Rivera died in the "bosom of the church."68

5. Finally, it is instructive to read the "official" account of President Echeverria’s European state visits in 1974. As the first Mexican president ever to have an audience with the Pope, and indeed the first Mexican politician in a century to deal in any way directly with the Vatican, Echeverria had to juggle his symbols carefully. His chronicler therefore goes to lengths to acknowledge first the furor created in Mexico by the papal interview but then lists dozens of heads of governments received by the Vatican since World War II, including not only Catholics but "Protestants, Anglicans, Orthodox, Buddhists, Mohammedans and followers of no religion."69 One does not yet take lightly the mixing of the civil and the religious in Mexico.

To summarize, Mexico has no civil religion of the sort Rousseau urged. It has a nationalism, and it retains a religiousness, but these two cultural themes have not merged. The symbols of the first have not mixed with the symbols of the second. The explanation for this failure to mix lies in the ambivalence toward the Church that followed bitter church-state struggles of the nineteenth century.

It is possible to imagine other paths the symbols might have taken. In Haiti, for example, when the Church excommunicated President Duvalier, he simply distributed a picture showing himself with God’s hand on his shoulder, with the caption "I have chosen him."70 Despite hostilities, in other words, it is conceivable that the symbols of ecclesiastical legitimacy might have been taken over by the Mexican state. Or it is possible Mexican nationalism might have ceased to be secular only and developed its own sacred symbols, the situation approached in the Soviet Union.71

But neither of these happened either. Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, one of Mexico’s leading sociologists, suggests the legislative branch, in sanctioning the executive’s actions, fulfills a function similar to that of the divine powers that sanctioned the laws by which the "rulers of old" governed." Johnson is more accurate in describing the theory of the present Mexican Constitution, however, when he says, "Human rights were recognized not as inherent but as creation of the nation."73

This muted moral rhetorical role for governmental institutions is illustrated by Mexican judicial behavior. The law can speak in profoundly religious ways, especially in matters undergoing judicial review. Mexican courts possess this review capability through the doctrine of amparo, a device allowing citizens to bring grievances against authorities directly to judges. Via Articles 14 and 16 of the Mexican Constitution, courts have expanded their oversight capability much as United States judicial power has expanded under the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Moreover, the Mexican Supreme Court has not been merely a tool of the ruling regime but exhibits considerable independence. It "has pressed officialdom vigorously in several key policy areas. Amparo courts appear willing to tackle almost every kind of procedural abuse in the administration and interpretation of laws. . . . The high percentages of cases won by amparo plaintiffs and the great volume of cases initiated each year demonstrate that the Mexican judiciary is an important allocator of values, scarce resources, and sanctions in the National political system."74

And yet the Mexican Supreme Court, for all its activity, remains passive with respect to great moral questions. For example, Schwartz’s examination of the 1917 -- 1971 period

reveals no instance where the Court ruled on the merits of a civil, criminal, or administrative action involving government favoritism or discrimination against a particular religion. This conspicuous absence is all the more remarkable considering the great religious violence sparked by the so-called Cristero Rebellion in 1926. Its turbulent aftermath extended into the early 1940s. The solution to the crisis was indeed political, involving police power and negotiation among contending political leaders but not judicial rule-making, adjudication, or the writ of amparo.75

Thus the court, though not constitutionally prohibited, has nevertheless been reluctant to adopt any role wherein it expresses the more profound values of the Mexican nation. In other words it articulates no Mexican civil religion.

Although the two quasi-civil religions (ecclesiastical legitimacy and nationalism phrased in sacred terms) were historical options Mexico might have elected, the Rousseau-type civil religion must now be regarded as remote indeed. But in retrospect, it is not puzzling that a civil religion never appeared in Mexico. The history of church and state seems "naturally" to have precluded a transcendent understanding of Mexico’s national destiny, an understanding independent of both church and state.76

Stated this way, however, the puzzle is why there are situations where such an independent understanding does develop. Under what conditions will a civil religion appear? To answer this question I return to the case of the United States.

Having reviewed some of the features of Mexico that explain why no Rousseau-type civil religion is found there, one might be inclined to dismiss the finding with a "What did you expect?" Two things suggest the folly of such a dismissal, however. I mentioned one of these when I cited several characteristics of Mexico that would seem to have facilitated a civil religion: the strong nationalism, the powerful role of religion in its history, the recognition of a "Mexican" people that has emerged out of a diverse ethnic situation, and the deliberate campaign to erect a civil religion.

The other thing making casual dismissal of the Mexican case unwise is the implied assumption that the absence (and therefore the presence as well) of a civil religion can easily be explained, that the conditions for civil religion are not at all problematic. Against this second line of reasoning is the argument that civil religion (at least of the Rousseau variety) is rare, and the conditions for its development are not obvious, just as the explanation for civil religion’s absence is not obvious. The case of Mexico therefore redirects attention to the United States and how it is a civil religion developed there, a civil religion independent of both church and regime. An answer comes in several stages.

A Conducive Ideology

Without question the most common method of accounting for an American civil religion consists of tracing the history of the ideas that comprise it. In this view two currents of thought, staffed for the most part by two groups of people, dominated the formative years of the American civil religion. Despite their differences, they converged on the idea that Americans were the new chosen people. One current -- generated by the Puritans -- believed America was renewing a covenant with God. The other current -- originating in the deists or "philosophes" -- were fashioning a social contract based on divine law. Both thus imagined God to be intimately involved in national affairs, even as both upheld the separation of church and state and a voluntary religion. This point is very ably advanced by Dohen and many others. Howe, for example, suggests the "wall of separation" between church and state, which the First Amendment is to ensure, was not simply a Jeffersonian deist figure of speech but even more reflected the "evangelical" desire to keep the "wilderness of the world" out of the "garden of the church." Both positions, however, led to an insistence on "voluntarism" or nonestablishment of religion.77

Nowhere was the resulting "republican religion" more apparent than in the "Yale theology" of the early nineteenth century, the goal of which was "the moral renovation of the American people through revivalism, reform societies, the religious press, and sumptuary legislation."78

Republican religion did much to lay the historical groundwork for the tradition of religious liberty and limited separation of church and state, as it did to nurture creative minorities like the abolitionists, social gospelers, and civil-rights protesters. While it worked to demean and harass Negroes, Mormons, Catholics, Jews, and agnostics, . . . it also provided Afro-Americans with institutions of their own and bred nearly all black public leaders. Through Lincoln it articulated the ideological meaning of the Civil War. In Wilson it mingled missionary nationalism with a vision of internationalism, and in the eloquence of Martin Luther King Jr., it found a voice for the revitalization of a civic religion in the context of demands for the renewal of the premises and promises of the ancient covenants.79

The beliefs of the founding generations then, whether Puritan or rationalist, whether inspired by Moses and Isaiah or by Locke and Montaigne, were conducive to a perspective that saw the American nation as the chief agent in the unfolding of history. Of such, it is said, civil religion is made; America had those beliefs, and Mexico did not.

At best, however, the ideas alone are a necessary but not sufficient explanation. Did they generate the evangelical fervor that made the expanding frontier a mission scene? Yes, but that fervor did not surpass the enthusiasm (and success) of the Franciscans and Jesuits in New Spain. Did those ideas generate a renewed interest in the Old Testament-inspired notion of a "chosen people?" Yes, but so were Catholic missionaries in Mexico imbued with beliefs that the New World was the new occasion to fulfill God’s promise.80 Was the promised land of America found to be bountiful, thus confirming God’s compact? Yes, but the silver mines of Mexico were more than adequate substitutes for American milk and honey as signs of God’s grace.

One ideological difference does stand out between Protestant America and Catholic Mexico; it is the difference in those belief systems that Max Weber made explicit. In America, for Deist as well as for Puritan, God’s involvement was direct; in Mexico God’s influence was mediated by church, priest, sacrament, and saint. But even this difference, while obvious and of enormous theological importance, does not by itself explain the appearance of an independent civil religion in the United States but not in Mexico. Recall the balloon metaphor. This ideological difference alone does not reveal what enabled the church in America to relinquish its monopoly on holding the string of the religion balloon and what enabled government officials to grab it.

Other conditions were obviously necessary, conditions not unrelated to Protestant ideology. In this sense the common explanation for America’s civil religion -- that it arose out of Puritan and other ideas -- is not incorrect but only incomplete. It would be more accurate to say certain ideas found institutional roots in the Protestant soil of America that they did not find in Catholic Mexico, and these institutions -- not just the ideas -- were also necessary for a civil religion. The first of these, institutionalized religious liberty, explains how the church lost its monopoly on religious symbols.

Religious Liberty, Voluntarism, and the Separation of Church and State

One idea that took root early in American soil was that of religious liberty. There is no need to romanticize this chapter of history and make all the Puritans libertarians, "but the remarkable thing about the English settlements in America is that there, in the brief period between 1607 and 1787 these traditionally antagonistic groups of people learned to dwell together side by side in relative peace. First, they learned to tolerate one another, and eventually they began to think of freedom for all as an inherent or natural right."81

However, from the beginning that natural right, when institutionalized, became the government’s responsibility. Thus even during the first century of the Massachusetts colony, while Puritan Congregationalism was "established" and levied taxes, many Anglican, Baptist, and Quaker colonists sought and found relief by appeal to the provincial authorities. Here is but an early instance of what was to become a common American irony: In its efforts to protect religious liberty, civil government enlarges its own role as religious arbiter. Michael Novak puts it this way: "No one church was allowed to become the official guardian of the central symbols of the United States. Instead, the nation itself began to fill the vacuum where in many cultures a church would be. The nation became its own unifying symbol system, the chief bestower of identity and purpose." 82

The church was left to compete as a voluntary association, a situation foreign observers sometimes interpreted as theological weakness and sometimes as community vitality but always as a blend of the civil and the religious. Clergy did not cease to preach on destiny, worth, and judgment; but they had to share the pulpit. And every time someone’s "free exercise" right was upheld, the government "established" further its own religious role. America became, as G. K. Chesterton said, a nation with the soul of a church.

Religious liberty and voluntarism thus led to an unusual "separation" of church and state, a situation in which the organizations are perhaps separated but the symbols are not. In exchange for the right to believe as they wanted. Americans relinquished any church’s monopoly on religious symbols and shared them with government. The result is a civil government with a religious flavor, a flavor nowhere more apparent than in the rhetoric of presidential inaugural addresses.83

This unusual separation of church and state remains today a difference between "Protestant" America and "Catholic" Latin America, even where in the latter separation of church and state is secure. Ivan Vallier allows us to understand this difference with his distinction between "religious competition" and "political competition."84 The Catholic Church in Latin America competed politically with government for a long time (and in some places still does), but only recently has it competed religiously. Churches in America. however, because of the doctrine of religious liberty, have always competed religiously but never politically, that is, over the rules governing competition. This situation is one factor that allowed, indeed encouraged, the emergence of an American civil religion.

To summarize the argument to this point: America’s ideological heritage, especially the Protestant idea of covenant and the rationalist idea of social contract, made civil religion possible in the United States. But inasmuch as these and similar ideas are also found in Mexico’s ideological heritage, the simple availability of the ideas is not enough to explain the presence of civil religion in the one country and its absence in the other. More is required.

I have suggested an additional factor: The doctrine of religious liberty accompanying Protestantism was institutionalized as an unusual separation of church and state. In this separation the church lost its monopoly on religious symbols, sharing them with civil agencies, and government therefore also dealt in religious symbols. The point is ironically illustrated in a 1935 report of the Congregational Churches of Mexico that attempted to explain the continuing tumult between church and state in that country. Catholicism, the report says, "put the Pope above the State, and finds it impossible to support a Government which no longer consents to be the tool of Romish machinations." By contrast, Protestants can support the state "as long as it does not seek to compel disobedience to God’s commands."85 What the report fails to acknowledge, of course, is that Protestantism (as well as Catholicism) in the United States achieves this harmony by relinquishing to civil agencies the authority to define God’s commands. In protecting the "free exercise" of religion, government further "establishes" its own religious role. In return for the guarantee of flying any religious balloon, all churches’ balloon strings must be available for handling by government.

Political Activity by Churches

American churches never "competed" politically in that they never set the rules of competition or determined jurisdiction, but this did not keep them out of the political arena. Indeed, it might be argued the peculiar nature of U.S. church-state "separation" meant churches entered the political fray with greater abandon than was the case when they did compete. Even today, as countless studies show, greater political activity characterizes those Protestant groups with the more "republican" religion; groups asserting "the church should stay out of politics" are those whose Christianity rests less easy with religious liberty or the democratic regime generally. At the extreme, religious groups claiming the sole way to truth make common cause with fascist politics. Partly, too, this explains why more liberal political involvement is found in those denominations with more members of high economic standing. Churches serving the rich often take positions some of their individual rich members oppose. Historically, the charge against mainline Protestant churches has not been for political inactivity but for political naivete.86

In America, therefore, one observes the role of religion in political life, even as clergy and churches are "nonpolitical" or, as Tocqueville noted, "disestablished." 87 Protestants got there first, of course, and some still level accusations of a de facto Protestant establishment. But while top political leadership has come chiefly from members of one of the mainline Protestant groups, that membership has been of little political significance. Jews and Catholics have made a similar adjustment and seen their religious affiliation also become politically insignificant.88 Anthony Trollope, following his visit in 1860, said in America "Everybody is bound to have a religion." But, he added, "it does not matter what it is."89 Candidate John F. Kennedy, telling the Houston Ministerial Association in 1960 that his first commitment was to the U.S. Constitution, was merely echoing Trollope’s sentiment. The ease with which the Catholic hex disappeared following Kennedy’s election provided further confirmation. A politician’s membership in one or another denomination may have sizable significance at election time, of course, depending upon the use to which it is put. But so may a politician’s photogenic quality, ethnicity, ad lib ability, or money supply. Religious affiliation merely lines up with these other attributes and has no necessary relationship with the politician’s substantive record.

Any religion that does influence political life is thus "non" denominational even if its early roots were evangelical Protestantism. It is diffused throughout American institutions, even if it was shaped theologically by New England ecclesiastics. It is a civil religion and inspires clergymen as well as others to political activity, even if it is the unique theology of no denomination. How ingrained this religion became, even early in the nation’s history, is illustrated by the religious comments of another foreign observer. Harriet Martineau was a convinced Anglican who, coming to the United States in 1834 for a two-year period, compared the religious situation in America with what she perceived to be the "established" position of the church back home in England: "It appears to me that the one thing in which the clergy of every kind are fatally deficient is faith: that faith which would lead them, first, to appropriate all truth, fearlessly and unconditionally; and then to give it as freely as they have received it. . . . What would Paul’s ministry have been if he had preached on everything but idolatry at Ephesus, and licentiousness at Corinth? . . . what kind of an apostle would he have been? Very like the American Christian clergy."90 Further reflection by Martineau would have led her to realize deficient faith was not the source of difficulty but rather the peculiar political role that must be played by disestablished clergy when they are politically active. A more accurate rendering than Martineau’s is one made a decade earlier by the Frenchman, August Lavasseur:

one must be struck at the constant union of religious ideas with patriotic sentiments, which so strongly characterize the [American] citizens . . . but what is no less worthy of remark is that their religion, freed from minute ceremonies, resembles a sentiment, as much as their love of liberty resembles a creed. Among them a political orator never closes a preparatory address without invoking or returning thanks to the Almighty; as a minister, when he ascends the pulpit always begins by reminding his audience of their duties as citizens. and the happiness they enjoy in living under wise institutions. It may be said that this mixture of political morality and theology extends through all the actions of the Americans, a tincture of gravity and profound conviction.91

The closeness of religion and politics, more than their separateness, marks the church-state situation in America. Some have seen in this closeness the source of atheism’s unpopularity. Others have commented on the absence of a church-based political party in the United States, owing to the "religiousness" of all political parties. Still others point to the essentially ‘private" role to which church theology is reduced inasmuch as the church cannot compete politically.

All such observations may be true and probably are. From the standpoint of the development of a civil religion, however, the closeness of religion and politics in America has another meaning, a meaning in which a large number of foreign observers of the religiopolitical scene concur: Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, American politicians, government officials, and civil servants have been favorable to religion. Not having to compete politically with churches, politicians could draw their language, imagery, and symbols easily and unashamedly from religious ideology. People in the political sphere could hold the strings of religious balloons.

Civil Agents of the Civil Religion

Here then is a second and less obvious explanation for America’s capacity to generate a civil religion -- the opportunity and inclination of its government agencies to use religious symbols. The first explanation -- that the Protestant doctrine of religious liberty led to the kind of church-state separation wherein clergymen, even while politically active, did not "compete" politically -- is seen here in mirror image. Thus unlike politicians in Mexico, American politicians have felt little ambivalence toward the church because, unlike the Catholic church in Mexico, the various U.S. churches have competed not with the state but only with one another. Politicians are therefore free to deal in religious symbols.

When government agencies use religious symbols, they are typically not sectarian symbols but those common to all believers in the United States, which means political units (chiefly the nation), not ecclesiastical units, are the units of reference. For example, Bellah observes that presidential inaugural language always includes God but never Christ.92 God looks favorably (or unfavorably) on this country, not simply on the Presbyterians of this country. As noted, therefore, American churches have been politically involved in civil, not just ecclesiastic, affairs, and thus served as agents of the civil religion. But I turn now to the religious involvement of government agencies. For, it seems fair to presume. these agencies have also played a critical role in the development of American civil religion. It is not enough that religion attend to the civil; the civil must also attend to the religious.

I have referred to elected politicians’ use of civil religious symbols. Less obvious is the way other civil agents have used the civil religion. The several civil positions in Mexico already described have their American counterparts; comparing the two sets shows how easily in the United States the "civil" position became "religious" as well.


As in Mexico, U.S. public education was seen as a vital agency for any civil ideal. Even before the American Revolution, "education became an instrument, deliberately used, by which dominant groups sought to recreate an ideal unity and minorities struggled to retain their group’s identity."93 Moral inculcation, it was recognized, could not be "tied to sectarian or even religious teaching. . . . In the polyglot cities . . . the establishment of schools with any denominational coloring was sure to alienate some of the families. . . . [Horace] Mann did not -- nor did he wish to -- abolish the use of the Bible in the public schools. . . . But he was happy to report in 1844 that only a small fraction of the towns used the Bible as a devotional work; the rest used it as a reader."94 The school promulgated national unity and "nonsectarian" morality. Unlike Mexico, however, public education was not inhibited in this promulgation from using religious symbols as long as they were thought common to all, which again meant politically defined, not denominationally defined, units were the units of reference. Even today in some places the religious symbols used are to Jews unjustly Christian and to Catholics unjustly Protestant. They are therefore not in reality "common" to all. But such an assertion does not negate the civil religious intention to use common religious symbols.


The designers of American public education were believers; schools were the nation’s way to do God’s will. The father of American public education -- the prophet of the common school and counterpart to Mexico’s José Vasconcelos -- is Horace Mann. During the mid nineteenth century he was secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education and thus creator of the school system that served as a model for many other states. Mann rejected the sternly orthodox Calvinism of his youth, but who can doubt its impact in the following letter he wrote to a friend three decades later? "If I had a few thousand dollars I know I could, very perceptively, hasten the millennium. God having time enough on his own hands lets these things drag along strangely; but I confess I am so constituted that I feel in a hurry." A few years later he wrote to another friend, "schools will be found to be the way that God has chosen for the reformation of the world." 95

Mexico’s Vasconcelos, we have reason to believe, was incapable of thoughts like these. The goal, he said while minister of education, was "to get back on the track of simple civilized normality." It is true he imagined himself engaged in what he called a holy crusade" and sought "teachers animated with apostolic fervor," but he "was resigned in advance to seeing the results disappear as soon as the political wheel turned."96 Mann, it is safe to say, was incapable of thoughts like that.

Mann’s erstwhile Calvinism and his belief that education was to reform the world became civil religion as it emerged in the schools, most of all in Mann’s insistence upon public schools for all people. They were to teach and indoctrinate "those articles in the creed of republicanism, which are accepted by all, believed in by all, and which form the common basis of our political faith." Mann resisted the pressures to make public schools sectarian, even as he embraced their need to educate in the "fundamental principles of Christianity." Just four years before he assumed the secretaryship, Massachusetts had disestablished the Congregational Church. Now, writes his biographer, "Mann was about to preach a new religion and convince his constituency of the need for a new establishment, a nondenominational institution, the public school, with schoolmasters as a new priestly class, patriotic exercises as quasi-religious rituals, and a nonsectarian doctrine stressing morality, literacy and citizenship as a republican creed for all to confess."97

To a remarkable degree he succeeded. Public education flourished in the nineteenth century and schools came to dominate small town America’s landscape in the way cathedrals dominated the landscape of European villages.

Along with Mann, Henry Barnard has been regarded as a "founder" of American public education. Barnard served many years as secretary of the Connecticut Board of Education, but his impact on the public school movement was perhaps greatest in the American Journal of Education, which he began in 1855 and edited for twenty-six years. This publication was the only national journal for pedagogy in the nineteenth century.

Like Mann, Barnard was reared on a New England Puritan ethic and trained in law, but then the public school movement "pulsed in his blood as he pictured himself as a missionary ‘captured and enlisted for life.’ " Friends and frequent correspondents, Barnard and Mann referred to public education as the "Ark of God" and the "Ark of the Lord." Education for Barnard was a "holy cause" and a "Christian crusade"; teachers were "the chosen priesthood."98

Persons more committed than Mann and Barnard to the civil religion cannot be found, but plenty of persons in the public school movement shared their commitment. What they were involved in was not only a crusade on behalf of the republic; it was also a religious crusade. Combining intellectual instruction with moral admonition -- the mark of the popular McGuffey readers, for example -- was necessary in their view. "These peculiarities of our government," wrote Barnard in 1865, "require that the spirit of the people shall be educated in conformity to them."99

This whiggish outlook -- that government has responsibility for the morality of its youth because morality is necessarily reflected in behavior -- was not (and is not) just a partisan difference, although then (as now) the viewpoint was stronger in one political party. The outlook is rather more American than partisan. One’s religious beliefs, everyone agreed, ought to be reflected in one’s citizenship. The civil religion is both parent and child to the public school.

The Judiciary

The court system in Mexico, though it possesses the constitutional authority for doing so, has not used judicial review as a moral-religious platform. Although the amparo is invoked frequently and judges therefore are put in a "final arbiter" position, they have not become involved in great moral issues. They have unsnarled administrative or procedural disputes, but Mexican courts have neither articulated nor sought to articulate "principles" of human governance.

The contrast with the American judicial system is striking. Puritanism, of course, had the capacity for making every issue a moral issue, as Roscoe Pound said, but Puritanism in religiously plural America transmuted moral issues into legal issues as well.’00 Courts were asked to "interpret" law; they were charged with identifying not only "duties" but "aspirations"; and the result is a judiciary with a (civil) religious character.101 Here, along with education, is another way Puritanism’s innerworldly asceticism indirectly led to the development of American civil religion.

This judicial religiousness is often noted. U.S. Supreme Court justices, for example, have been called "the nine high priests," and the sacredness imputed to the Constitution and other artifacts of the legal order are often commented upon.102 No single church evokes the breadth of respect enjoyed by the Supreme Court. The reason, no doubt, is that the Court is a "vital national seminar" in ways and on issues that churches never have been in the United States.103

It is perhaps more than coincidence that this expanding judicial role and the religious character accompanying it occurred during the same decades that the "republican religion" established theological hegemony in America. If the argument here is correct, the two developments result from some of the same causes: The American kind of church-state separation meant no church monopolized religious symbols; courts were called upon to articulate ultimate purpose and justice; and judges felt little ambivalence in doing so. Religious balloon strings, being no longer the property of the church only, could be grasped by anybody, including (perhaps especially) judges. However, a debate continues on whether judges "ought" to grab the religious balloon strings. This is part of the issue of ‘judicial activism," on which Alexander Bickel, in The Least Dangerous Branch, was so eloquent a spokesman on behalf of the Court’s "passive virtues." While the alacrity with which courts are prepared to step into political/moral issues can be questioned, the religious character their actions assume when they do step in cannot be.

As in the case with public education, then, the U.S. judicial system (especially at the federal level) has played a religious role. The nation is the chief agent in the drama, and so both education and the courts promulgate a civil, not sectarian, religion. That is to say, it is a religion independent of churches, just as, being little tied to the ruling regime, it is a religion independent of the state. Biased in favor of one or another ecclesiastic outlook at times, this civil religion can also at times be biased on behalf of the political status quo. But it is not just a political or secular ideology; its transcendent references are frequent and clear. Used to justify all manner of errant nonsense, it is nevertheless "essentially prophetic, which is to say that its ideals and aspirations stand in constant judgment over the passing shenanigans of the people, reminding them of the standards by which their current practices and those of their nation are ever being judged and found wanting."104 It is, in the full Rousseau sense, a "civil religion."

No doubt public education, in its civil religious role, primarily transmits the civil religion -- however imperfectly. And courts, in their civil religious role, primarily apply and modify it -- however imperfectly. But in their civil religious roles both of these institutions derived from a single set of circumstances. First are the ideas that allowed the nation to be understood in a transcendent manner. Second is the way one of those ideas -- the doctrine of religious liberty -- gave rise to religious pluralism at the organizational level. Third was the need nevertheless for common symbols of national purpose, which, because of ecclesiastical pluralism, no church could supply. And fourth was the freedom felt by persons outside of church to use religious symbols. The result was that so-called secular institutions were called upon -- and their personnel were able -- to symbolize the civil religion. The American civil religion is thus a product of certain ideas, but those ideas have been filtered through particular social institutions. Mexico, though it entertained some of the same ideas, failed to create comparable institutions; so it did not develop a civil religion.


History records a number of ways religion and politics have been related, but with the coming of modern nation-states all the traditional ways required modification. Means of accommodating to "secularization" developed, the variety of which is illustrated by Smith in his sample of nations from around the world. It is the "church" that accommodates to the "state," however, at least in power terms; religion declines as power coalesces in the institutions of the state.105

Rousseau, contemplating this religious decline and concerned about the consequences, coined the term "civil religion" for what he regarded as a viable solution -- an ideology at once transcendent but focused on the nation-state. The handmaiden of neither the church nor the state, this ideology was to have an independent existence. It would provide persons with ultimate meaning by locating them in their society, which in turn would be located in space and history. In such manner, at least in "Christian states," "perpetual conflict of jurisdiction" would be avoided.106

Civil religions, in Rousseau’s meaning of the term, have not routinely developed, however. On the contrary, they are probably quite rare. Nationalisms abound, of course, but they typically are tied to the ruling regime, reflecting little of a transcendent or "ultimate" quality. And there are modern instances of nations enjoying the legitimacy provided them in a relationship with a single denomination, but they, being dependent on a church, are vulnerable to an inhibiting particularism.107 The strategy advocated by Rousseau, in other words, has not been commonly adopted.

Interest thus shifts to the conditions that allow and/or encourage an independent civil religion. Durkheim may still be correct in suggesting all societies possess a common conscience," but not all states develop civil religions. In some respects the intrusion of Durkheim-like theorizing has inhibited the analysis of civil religion, even as it undeniably has alerted scholars to civil religious possibilities in the first place. The reason has to do with the nonuniversality of "totemism" or transcendental ideology featuring the state as chief agent. The elusive collective conscience may be a universal phenomenon, but its theological expression is not.

On the basis of the foregoing analysis of Mexico and the United States, perhaps this explanation can be offered: Civil religion depends for its existence upon circumstances allowing persons and institutions to be "religious" and "political" at the same time. The heavenly sphere of theology must blend with the worldly sphere of the,civil. It was one of Max Weber’s great insights that while "every . . . religion must, in similar measure and for similar reasons experience tension with the sphere of political behavior," religions differ in how they deal with this tension.108 Innerworldly asceticism has an edge, at least when it comes to the development of a civil religion.

In most of Christian history the religious and political spheres have been thought separate. Augustine’s City of God was believed superior to the earthly city, just as on earth a vocation in the church was preferred over ordinary pursuits. Few had a choice in the second of these matters, and nobody had a choice in the first, but the separateness of spheres was unmistakable. Bishop John Ireland of St. Paul, Minnesota, put it neatly: "When I am asked: Do you put Church before Country, or Country before Church? I reply: I neither put Church before Country, nor Country before Church. Church and Country are in altogether different spheres . . . The Church is supreme in one order of things; the State is supreme in another order."109

Such a viewpoint eases the tension between religion and politics, however, only as long as no dispute arises over boundaries. When Archbishop Mora y del Rio responded to the 1917 Mexican Constitution by claiming church immunity from government regulation, he was hardly sidestepping an issue. The Church, he said, is "a perfect society, founded by God himself," a statement calculated to infuriate, not appease, the worldly sphere. 110

What Max Weber saw in the sequence of Protestant developments was a remarkably different way to "ease tension" between religion and politics: "inner-worldly asceticism can compromise with the facts of the political power structures by interpreting them as instruments for the rationalized ethica1 transformation of the world and for the control of sin."111 Puritanism in America followed such a course, and the American civil religion was a result. Where medieval Catholicism politicized religion. American Puritanism sacralized politics.

As the foregoing analysis shows, however, the American civil religion resulted not just from the contents of Puritan ideas. In addition, the Puritan method of harmonizing politics and religion led to institutional changes, which in turn facilitated development of a civil religion. I noted several of these institutional changes: (1) Churches became voluntary associations in a strict sense, though lines around religious liberty or "free exercise" were (are) difficult to draw in this "separation" of church and state. (2) Churches engaged in much political activity, though generally in the same manner and with the same weapons as other voluntary associations. (3) Persons therefore found it easy to be simultaneously "religious" and "political." (4) Political institutions became embued with sacred meaning, educational and legal institutions (and their personnel) being the manifestations previously discussed.

In due time the medieval Catholic method failed -- as the case of Mexico illustrates -- but left the vestigial conception of religion and politics as separate spheres. The Puritan solution may have been worse from the viewpoint of a power-seeking church, but at least it left political institutions and their personnel theologically infused. The Catholic method meant that while church contended with state, individuals had to juggle their loyalties to the "separate" organizations. The Puritan solution did away with church-state struggle at the organization level but shifted the struggle to the personality level. Thus "conscience" enters the legal realm in America as it never does in Mexico. The Puritan way of resolving tension between religion and politics left the church, qua church, with no power, therefore, but it meant religious symbols entered politics. The conditions thus existed for a civil religion develop. And develop it did in America, to a degree of independence perhaps not matched by the civil religion of any other society. The importance of those conditions -- and not just the civil religious idea -- is what this comparison has shown.



1. Ferdinand Mount, "The Last Hurrah?" Encounter. 48 (March 1977). p. 61.

2. H. Byron Earhart, Japanese Religion: Unity and Diversity, 2nd. ed. (Encino, Calif. Dickenson Publishing Co. 1974), pp. 19-20.

3. Ronald C. Wimberley and James A. Christenson, "Civil Religion and Church Religions." Paper presented at the 1976 annual meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion.

4. See, for example, the particular data of Herbert McCloskey, "Consensus and Ideology in American Politics," American Political Science Review, 58 June.964), pp. 361-382. For a summary statement see Robert E. Stauffer, "Civil Religion, Technocracy, and the Private Sphere: Further Comments of Cultural Integration in Advanced Societies," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 12 (December 1973). pp. 415-425.

5. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. Henry Reeve (New York: Schocken Books, 196.), vol. 1, p. 300.

6. Three excellent discussions of this creed are John E. Smylie, "National Ethos and the Church" Theology Today, 20 (October 1963), pp. 313-321; Sidney E. Mead, The Lively Experiment (New York: Harper, 1963); and Sidney E. Mead, "The Nation with the Soul of a Church" Church History, 36 (1967). pp. 262-283. Will Herberg, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1960), focuses on the fourth creedal tenet. Ernest Lee Tuveson, Redeemer Nation. The Idea of America’s Millennial Role (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), focuses on the third.

7. Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972), p. 1094.

8. Jean Jacques Rousseau, Social Contract, ed. C. M. Andrews (New York: William H. Wise, 1901 [originally published 1762]), pp. 116; 117-118.

9. Ibid., pp. 123-124.

10. I have benefited from other efforts to classify civil religions, especially John A. Coleman, "Civil Religion," Sociological Analysis, 31 (Summer1970), pp. 67-77, and Martin E. Marty, "Two Kinds of Two Kinds of Civil Religion," in R. E. Richey and D. G. Jones, eds., American Civil Religion (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), although some of their distinctions are not incorporated in my typology.

11. Coleman, "Civil Religion," p. 70.

12. Excelsior, 21 January 1977.

13. Ibid., December 1976.

14. Frank Brandenburg, The Making of Modern Mexico (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.; Prentice-Hall,1964), chap.1.

15. See Irma Wilson, Mexico: A Century of Educational Thought (New York: Hispanic Institute in the U.S., 1941); George F. Kneller, The Education of the Mexican Nation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1951.); and Josephina Vasquez DeKnauth, Nacionalismo y Educacion en Mexico [Nationalism and education in Mexico], 2nd ed. (Mexico City: El Colegio de Mexico, 1975).

16, Samuel Ramos, Profit, of Man and Culture in Mexico, trans. Peter G. Earle (Austin: University of Texas Press,1962), p. 164.

17. Leopoldo Zea in Frederick C. Turner, The Dynamic of Mexican Nationalism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,1968), p. 93. See also Ramos, Profile, p. 165.

18. Wilson, Mexico, p. 37.

19. Robert E. Quirk, The Mexican Revolution and the Catholic Church, 1910 - 1929 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973), pp.116 and 117.

20. Kneller, The Education, p. 170.

21. Ibid., pp. 46-47.

22. José Vasconcelos, A Mexican Ulysses: An Autobiography, trans. and abridged W. Rex Crawford (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1963), p.156.

23. With bitterness, the contemporary Mexican poet-critic-ambassador, Octavio Paz, points out this move to revere (create?) an indigenous past has led the otherwise magnificent Anthropological Museum in Mexico City to organize its presentation so as to "culminate" with the Aztecs. As Paz points out, however, compared with the Olmecs, Toltecs, or Mayas who preceded them, the Aztecs are not a good model. Octavio Paz, The Other Mexico. Critique of the Pyramid, trans. Lysander Kemp (New York: Grove Press, 1972).

24. Quirk. The Mexican Revolution, p.116.

25. Kneller, The Education, p. 100.

26. Lesley B. Simpson, Many Mexicos, rev. ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1952), p. 70.

27. Manuel Gamio, Forjando Patria [Forging the native land] (Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1960), p. 111.

28. Quirk, The Mexican Revolution, chap.1; Anita Brenner, Idols Behind Altars: The Story of the Mexican Spirit (Boston: Beacon Press, 1970 [originally published 1929]).

29. See also William Madsen, "Christo-Paganism: A Study of Mexican Religious Syncretism," Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1955.

30. Simpson, Many Mexicos, pp. 192-193.

31. William Weber Johnson, Heroic Mexico (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1968), p. 388.

32. W. H. Callcott, Church and State in Mexico, 1822-1857 (Durham. NC.: Duke University Press, 1926), p. 39.

33. Cited in Brandenburg, The Making, p. 183.

34. See Johnson, Heroic Mexico, p. 53, and Jan Bazant, Alienation of Church Wealth in Mexico: Social and Economic Aspects of the Liberal Revolution, 1836-1875 (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1971), p. l3.

35. David Bailey, Viva Cristo Rey (Austin: University of Texas, 1974), p.10.

36. Quirk, The Mexican Revolution, p. 22.

37. Rafael Segovia, La Politizacion, del Niño Mexicano [The politicization of the Mexican child] (Mexico City: El Colegio de Mexico. 1975 p.91.

38. Bailey, Viva Cristo Rey. pp. 11 - 13.

39. Simpson, Many Mexicos, pp. 243 and 248.

40. Brandenburg, The Making, p.41. A more church-positive Diaz is portrayed in J. Lloyd Mecham, Church and State in Latin America. rev. ed. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966), chap. 15.

41. Brandenburg, The Making, p. 41

42. See Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba. The Civic Culture, abridged (Boston: Little, Brown, 1965): Robert E. Scott, "Mexico: the Established Revolution," in Lucien W. Pye. and Sidney Verba, eds., Political Culture and Political Development (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1965); Turner. The Dynamic; and Peter Ranis, Five Latin American Nations: A Comparative Political Study (New York: Macmillan, 197l).

43. Ranis, Five Latin American Nations, p. 227.

44. Robert E. Scott, "Nation Building in Latin America," in K. W. Deutsch and W. J. Foltz. Nation-Building (New York: Atherton, 1963). p. 81.

45. Eric Wolf, "The Virgin of Guadalupe: A Mexican National Symbol," Journal of American Folklore, 71 (1958), pp. 34-39.

46. Brenner, Idols Behind Altars, p. 151.

47. Turner, The Dynamic. p. 142.

48. Oscar Lewis, The Children of Sanchez (New York: Random House, 1961).

49. Quoted in Simpson, Many Mexicos, p. 245.

50. Karl M. Schmitt, "Catholic Adjustment to the Secular State: The Case of Mexico,1867 - 1911, Catholic Historical Review, 48, no. 2 (July 1962), pp. 187-188.

51. Quoted in Charles S. MacFarland, Chaos in Mexico (New York: Harper & Bros., 1935), p. 125.

52. Quoted in ibid., p. 136.

53. Brandenburg, The Making, p. 32.

54. Mecham, Church and State, chaps. 15-16, is a succinct history of Mexican church-state relations from 1821 to 1965.

55. Richard Roman, "Church-State Relations and the Mexican Constitutional Congress, 1916-1917,"Journal of Church and State 20 (Winter 1978) p. 79. On restrictions of the church see Henry B. Parkes, A History of Mexico, 3rd ed. (Boston: Houghton Muffin, 1960), p. 362.

56. See Alberto Hernández Medina, "El Financiamento De La Educacion Privada En America Latina’ [Financing Private Education in Latin America] (Mexico, D. F.: Centro de Estudios Educativos, A. A,, 1976). The estimates of what percent of private school students are Catholic were given to me in a private communication from Hernández Medina,

57. See Quirk, The Mexican Revolution, and Bailey, Viva Cristo Rey, for accounts of this event,

58. Bailey, Viva Cristo Rey, p. 309.

59. Donald J. Mabry, Mexico’s Accion Nacional (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1973), pp. 52-69.

6o. Kneller, The Education, pp. 69 and 55.

61. Parkes, A History, p. 234.

62. Ramos, Profile, p. 85.

63. Quirk, The Mexican Revolution, p. 16.

64. Kneller, The Education, pp. 61-62; Patrick Romanell, Making of the Mexican Mind (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1952), p. 98.

65. Vasconcelos, A Mexican Ulysses, pp. 180, 200, 173.

66. Daniel Cosio Villegas, American Extremes, trans. Américo Paredes (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964), p. 22.

67. Quoted in Brenner, Idol, Behind Altars, p. 251.

68. Dan Hofstadter, ed., Mexico 1946 -73 (New York: Facts on File, 1974), p. 65; Bertram D. Wolfe, La Fabulosa Vida de Diego Rivera [The Fabulous life of Diego Rivera] (Mexico City: Editorial Diana, 1972), p. 310.

69. Mario Ezcurdia, Operacion Europa [Operation Europe] (Mexico City, 1974), p. 151.

70. Frederick C. Turner, Catholicism and Political Development in Latin America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1971), p. 35.

71 Jennifer McDowell, "Soviet Civil Ceremonies," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 13 (September 1974), pp. 265- 279; Mary-Barbara Zeldin, "The Religious Nature of Russian Marxism," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 8 (Spring 1969), pp. 100-111.

72. Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, Democracy in Mexico, 2nd ed., trans. D. Solti (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 20.

73. Johnson, Heroic Mexico, p. 322.

74. Carl E. Schwartz, "Judges in the Shadow: Judicial Independence in the United States and Mexico," California Western International Law Journal, 3 (December 1972), pp. 313 and 332.

75. Ibid., pp. 289-290.

76. Ivan Vallier, Catholicism, Social Control, and Modernization in Latin America (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice-Hall, 1970), p. 43, states a similar thesis although he refers not to civil religion but to "a durable religio-moral foundation within which political processes can be stabilized."

77. Dorothy Dohen, Nationalism and American Catholicism (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967); Mark DeWolfe Howe, The Garden and the Wilderness (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965).

78. Elwyn A. Smith, The Religion of the Republic (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), pp. 170-171.

79. Cushing Strout, The New Heaven and the New Earth. Political Religion in America (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), p. 343. See also Ahlstrom,. A Religious History, pp. 552-564.

80. Simpson, Many Mexicos, Jacque Lafaye, Quetzalcóatl and Guadalupe. The Formation of Mexican National Consciousness 1531-1813, trans. Benjamin Keen (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976).

81. Mead, The Lively Experiment, p. 3.

82. Novak, Choosing Our King, p. 107.

83. Robert N. Bellah, "Civil Religion in America." Daedalus (Winter 1967), pp. 1-21.

84. Vallier, Catholicism, p. 150

85. Quoted in MacFarland, Chaos in Mexico, p. 253.

86. See Donald B. Meyer, The Protestant Search for Political Realism, 1919-1941 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960).

87. Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. 1, p. 364.

88. See Jacob Agus, "Jerusalem in America," in E. A. Smith, ed., The Religion of the Republic (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971); Thomas T. McAvoy, "American Cultural Impacts on Catholicism," in Smith, The Religion; Thomas F. O’Dea. "American Catholics and International Life," Social Order. 10 (June 1960), pp. 243-265; and especially Dohen, Nationalism, for details.

89. Quoted in Dohen,. Nationalism, p.11

90. Quoted in Milton Powell, ed. The Voluntary Church (New York; Macmillan, 1967), p. 124.

91. Quoted in ibid., p. 64.

92. Bellah, "Civil Religion."

93. Bernard Bailyn, Education in the Forming of American Society (New York: W.W. Norton, 1972), p. 99.

94. Robert L. Church and Michael W. Sedlak, Education in the United States (New York: Free Press, 1976), p. 90.

95. Quoted in Jonathan Messerli, Horace Mann: A Biography (New York: Knopf, 1972), pp. 403 and 441.

96. Vasconcelos. A Mexican Ulysses, p. 173.

97. Messerli, Horace Mann, p. 253.

98. Quoted in Vincent P. Lannie, ed., Henry Barnard: American Educator (New York: Teachers College Press, 1974), p. 13.

99. Quoted in ibid., p. 156.

100. Roscoe Pound, The Spirit of the Common Law (Francestown, N.H.; Marshall Jones, 1921), p.43.

101. These terms are from Lon Fuller, The Morality of Law (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1964).

102. Max Lerner, "The Constitution and the Court as Symbols," Yale Law Journal, 46 (1937), pp. 1290-1319; Alexander Bickel, The Least Dangerous Branch (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1962), pp. 29-33.

103. Eugene V. Rostow, "The Democratic Character of Judicial Review," Harvard Law Review, 66(1952), p.208.

104. Mead, "The Nation," p. 275.

105. Donald E. Smith, Religion and Political Development (Boston: Little, Brown, 1970), p. 117; Salo W. Baron, Modern Nationalism and Religion (New York: Meridian, 1960), p. 7.

106. Rousseau, Social Contract. p. 118.

107. The Afrikaners in South Africa are a good example. See Dunbar Moodie, The Rise of Afrikanerdom (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974).

108. Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion, trans. Ephraim Fischoff (Boston: Beacon Press. 1963), p. 223.

109. Quoted in Dohen, Nationalism, p. 110.

110. Quoted in Quirk, The Mexican Revolution, p. 100.

111. Weber, The Sociology, p. 226.

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