Political Science

Aaron Weinstein

Assistant Professor, Department of Politics, Fairfield University
Subfield American Politics
Dissertation Truth, Justice, and the American Way: Political Religions in America, Then and Now
Committee James Morone (Chair), Corey Brettschneider, Ross Cheit, Michael Tesler


Job Market Title

A Theology of Consensus: Occupy Wall Street's Civil Religion of the Nones


Over the last thirty years religious and political polarization has not only created the Religious Right, but a Spiritual-But-Not-Religious Left. These changes have had a profound and under-appreciated influence upon civil religious life in the United States. My job talk builds upon my dissertation on civil religion and publication in American Political Thought. It lays out the case for distinguishing between two forms of civil religion: the traditional, pro-status quo (drawing on Puritan thought) and critical, anti-establishment variant (which draws upon the Quaker tradition). After detailing historical and theoretical reasons behind such a distinction, I posit that the contemporary expression of the anti-establishment civil religion exists in the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. Far from purely secular, OWS epitomizes the Quaker civil religion: its ideals of radical democracy and individuality, as well as practices like the Quaker's own consensus-based decision making through the People's Mic. Ultimately, I argue that as American religiosity changes, so too does its expression through the nation's civil religion.