220 years on (pt III)

The mottoes of the United States are annuit coeptis  and Novus ordo Saeculorum. That is, “[God] approves of [our]undertakings” and “A new order of the ages”. The two are connected: the very new order of the ages is one in which God’s action in politics is only to look on with approval.   But God does not set up our institutions or give us laws, nor does any representative of the civil religion ask him what he wants. God does not take an active role in the system, whether (to put it charitably) ensuring that a king will always be born of a king, ready to rule others Dei gratia or (to put it as Jefferson did) ensuring that some men are born with saddles on their backs, and others born booted and spurred, ready to ride them by the grace of God.

Although in the New Order God does not act or arrange political affairs his approval is still necessary. God may not do more than approve, but he cannot do less either. God must be invoked in a civil religion- we are, in fact, very reticent to elect the irreligious.

If you search the word “God” through this speech given today you can see many of the aspects of the civic religion.


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