RICHARD W. GRAY, 68, former moderator of the 25,000-member Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, a leader in church-planting and Christian counseling efforts in his denomination since its formation in 1965; February 28, in Coventry, Connecticut, of a heart attack.
ARASTOO SAYYAH SINA, Iranian pastor of St. Simon the Episcopal Church in Shiraz, an evangelical with a widespread ministry to young people and Muslims; February 19, in Shiraz, fatally stabbed by unknown assailants during violence following the takeover by the Khomeini regime.
JEAN VILLOT, 73, French cardinal and Vatican secretary of state; one of the few non-Italians ever to hold the post, which ranks second in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, he temporarily led the church after the deaths of Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul I; March 9, in Vatican City, of heart and kidney ailments.
Sociologist Robert N. Bellah in his lecture “Civil Religion in America,” given to the Daedalus Conference on American Religion in May, 1966 (published Daedalus, Winter, 1967), made the subject popular. Bellah provided not only the vocabulary, but also the analytical tools with which to investigate civil religion.
The term “civil religion” has not been precisely defined. Laymen cannot always know whether it is being advocated or criticized. I intend to clarify its meaning and criticize it from an evangelical stance.
The term “civil religion” usually means a folk religion held by a provincially minded group. In the current discussion, it is usually limited to the American religious scene.
Many people think that civil religion equates the status quo and the good of the country with God’s will. Such a “religion” would be just a patriotic assertion of the unqualified favor of God toward ...1
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