The paper discusses the concept of civil religion as a theoretical framework for the sociological study of the religious rhetoric of political leaders and of the presence of religious references in the public forum. The classic views of Rousseau and Durkheim are presented, as well as their reception in the United States. The author discusses Robert N. Bellah's essay on civil religion in America and offers an overview of its critique among American sociologists, historians and theologians. In the conclusion, the main areas of controversy in the civil religion debate are outlined.
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