Advisor(s) - Committee Chair
Eric Bain-Selbo (Director), Ingrid Lilly, Tamara Van Dyken
Department of Philosophy & Religion
Master of Arts
The objective of this research is to analyze the ways in which the conservative,
American church has been ideologically and ritualistically shaped by an imperial culture enamored with war, the military, and violence; and how those positions and practices, in effect, legitimate war and the military. While many authors have surveyed historical Christian positions regarding war and the current nationalistic tendencies of conservative Christians, little research has been conducted to assess the effects of violence, nationalism, patriotism, and military enchantment on Christian rituals, practices, and ethos. Within this research, I argue that contemporary, conservative Christians have surpassed previously held nuanced positions of pacifism, just-war, and Christian Realism into a confluence of conservative Christian theology and American nationalism because of the American culture in which it is embedded. I refer to this typology as “church militant.” In addition, ritual practices which indirectly legitimate war and violence, influenced by an adopted position of church militant, are investigated. In order to accomplish this task, I have provided a brief survey of historical Christian typologies as they pertain to attitudes toward war and violence, while paying particular attention to the social context for each of these positions. Second, a typology of Christian hyper-religious patriotism, referred to as “church militant,” will be introduced by locating my argument within personal fieldnotes recorded during multiple visits to three Christian megachurches and current literature pertaining to Christian attitudes and participation in military and war efforts. After establishing the Christian typology toward war and violence, the subsequent sections of the paper detail specific practices of the contemporary, conservative church which serve to justify American military endeavors. Although much more could be stated regarding the militaristic cultural influence on ritual practices of conservative, American Christians, I focus on ritual songs and symbols of protection, a liturgy for religious warriors, and a practice of elevating soldiers as the Christian ideal which all legitimate United States war efforts. My objective is not to defend or attack the religious institutions which were studied; but, rather to augment the growing literature regarding conservative, American Christians vis-à-vis nationalism, patriotism, and militarism by identifying and interpreting the various ways that these ideas have shaped the conservative Christian culture.
Christianity | Ethics in Religion | History of Christianity | Philosophy | Religion
Shoemaker, Terry Dewayne, "Star Spangled Saints: Ritual Practices that Legitimate War and Violence in the American Church" (2013). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 1260.