One underlying thread in modern American society is the belief that the U.S. has been progressing towards a more ideal society. Known as “Millennialism,” the belief that the U.S. is “the Shining City on the Hill” permeates American culture in various forms. Usually associated with Fundamentalist Christians who long for the Second Coming of Christ, there is also a secular version of Millennialism as well. According to Secular Millennialism, America will evolve into a state of the just order of the good, where all oppressors of disenfranchised people will be trounced.
Starting with the First Great Awakening in the 1750s, Americans believed that the Holy Spirit would pour out and create Heaven on Earth in North America. During the Revolution, Thomas Paine, a secularist, wrote, “We have it in our power to begin the world again.” By the middle of the 20th Century, U.S. Presidents were cast as either the Messiah or the Antichrist. American elections became efforts in rescuing society and saving America from her enemies.
The Second Great Awakening of the early 1800s introduced social reform into religion. Religious people asserted that America would be the site of the New Millennium. Therefore, ordinary people could salvation by building the Kingdom of God in the United States. The Social Gospel Movement of the late 1800s focused on the sins of society such as poverty and inequality.
This is reflected in various Polytheistic blogs. I often encounter statements of calling the Gods and Ancestors to fight the Good Fight against white supremacy or racism. Other blogs exhort that that Polytheism is political and that Polytheists should overthrow political oppression. Seeing no distinction between religion and politics has always been a part of Millennialism.
Cohn, Norman, “The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages.” London: Paladin. 1970.
“Divining America: Religion in American History,” National Humanities Center Teacher Server. 2010. Web: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/divam.htm.
Kirsch, Jonathan, “A History of the End of the World.” New York: HarperCollins. 2006.
“God Against the Gods.” New York: Penguin Books. 2004
Walton, Chris, “Philocrites: Religion, Liberalism, and Culture.” 2009. Web: http://philocrites.com/index.html.