As Julia Gronnevet said, comparing the United States to the Roman Empire is a popular pastime . For instance, in his book entitled Are we Rome?: the Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America (2007), Cullen Murphy established some parallels between these two political entities both perceived, in their days, as the leading world economic power and the principle military power. He wrote that Americans have been casting eyes back to ancient Rome since before the Revolution . In effect, like Rome, the United States of America are a vast multicultural state burdened with an expansive and overstretched military which dominate the world with a messianic sense of global mission. Moreover, many historians emphasized the complex relationship between Rome and religion. First of all, the prosperity of this empire was based on the pax deorum. At the time of the foundation of this city by Romulus, gods gave their agreement to the first king of Rome showing that they were in favor of this new human power and that they would provide this people with an indestructible support. Therefore, each event unfavorable to Rome was perceived as resulting from an offense to the gods which should be repaired.
[...] Bush has restarted the debate around the ambiguous relationship between religion and politics in the United States. This President who thinks that he was on a mission from God triggers many controversies since, as a political leader of a theocratic regime, he legitimates his actions using a religious discourse. In effect, this situation was revealed by Bush himself when he met a Palestinian delegation during the Israeli-Palestinian summit four months after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. One of the delegates, Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time said: “President Bush said to all of us: am driven with a mission from God'. [...]
[...] Furthermore, the ambiguity concerning the influence of the Pilgrim Fathers over the American political culture could also be perceived during the foundation of the United States highlighting the complexity of the controversial relationship between religion and politics. In effect, when the American settlers expressed their desire to constitute an independent state unifying the thirteen British colonies, most of them were Protestant: this “Protestant Ethic” then played an important role during the foundation of the United States. However, when the Founder Fathers elaborated the Constitution they were cautious with the religious question. [...]
[...] The complexity of the relationship between religion and politics was already perceived by this French philosopher who believed in religious tolerance but also in the need of a social order ruled by the state to maintain its unity. Therefore, he wrote that “tolerance should be given to all religions that tolerate others, so long as their dogmas contain nothing contrary to the duties of citizenship”. As I previously highlighted some parallels between the Roman Empire and the American one, it seems that Rome was the first empire to promote this “civil religion”. [...]
[...] John von Heyking, Civil Religion Then and Now: The Philosophical Legacy of Civil Religion and Its Enduring Relevance in North America BELLAH (Robert), Civil Religion in America O'SULLIVAN (John), A divine destiny for America Ibid. Inaugural address of J.F. Kennedy from the east front of the Capitol, January FATH (Sébastien), Dieu bénisse l'Amérique. La religion de la Maison- Blanche DE GRAZIA (Victoria), Irresistible Empire: America's Advance Through Twentieth-Century Europe Ibid. The Third Great Awakening? By Forest Church in Washington Post, September 24th Bush's words [...]
[...] The prohibition of creating an official Church is one thing, to develop relationships between religion and politics is another, which is not prohibited, even if the jurisprudence is still unclear”. This allows Denis Lacorne to explain that this “wall of separation” was very instable during the history of the United States but also that the “Establishment clause” of the Bill of Rights indicated a “Congress' anticlericalism for Federal Affairs and an agnosticism for the states which individually manage their religious policy”. [...]
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