Is a Global Civic Religion Possible?

Robert Bellah asks over at The Immanent Frame:

In my essay “Civil Religion in America,” first published in Daedalus in 1967, exactly forty years ago—which, unfortunately, quite a few people think is the only thing I ever wrote—I discussed toward the end the possibility of what I called a “world civil religion.” Naïve though it may sound today, the idea of a world civil religion as expressing “the attainment of some kind of viable and coherent world order” was the imagined resolution of what I then called America’s third time of trial, an idea later developed in my book The Broken Covenant.

The first time of trial was concerned with the question of independence and the second with the issue of slavery, but the third, as I then put it, was concerned with America’s place in the world, and indeed what kind of world it would have a place in. That “viable and coherent world order” for which I hoped, would, I believed, require “a major new set of symbolic forms.” So far, I argued, “the flickering flame of the United Nations burns too low to be the focus of a cult, but the emergence of a genuine transnational sovereignty would certainly change this.” A genuinely transnational sovereignty? This utopian idea is something we will have to think about later. But I did hold that, though the idea of a world civil religion would be in one sense the fulfillment of “the eschatological hope of American civil religion,” nonetheless “it obviously would draw on religious traditions beyond the sphere of biblical religion alone.”