Date of Award

8-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

History

Major Professor

John Bohstedt

Committee Members

Vejas Liulevicius, Lynn Sacco, Daniel Magilow

Abstract

This study introduces the idea that, taken together, the major institutional frameworks of the ultra-Protestant culture of loyalism in the southwestern lowlands of Scotland can be conceived as a civil religion. I argue that loyalist civil religion in lowland Scotland was comprised of a distinct set of institutions including the Orange Order, Glasgow Rangers Football Club, loyalist street gangs and paramilitaries and loyalist flute bands. The elements that informed each of these loyalist groups were not unrelated, but part of a multidimensional and interactive civil religious movement. Each institution appealed to a wide range of viewpoints within the loyalist community but they all rallied around the same general “cause” and participated in the same ritual gatherings. Loyalist civil religion in the urban lowlands was articulated through an understood system of rituals, folklore, symbols and moral values related to the Protestant Irish’s shared experience of historical conflict and victimization at the hands of Roman Catholics. Regular ritual commemorations of past events guided contemporary loyalist agendas and actions. Through the folk collage of symbols, songs and other folk displays at loyalist ritual events, the history and contemporary goals of loyalism were relayed to future generations of potential loyalists. The recurrent celebration of past military heroes, battles and blood sacrifices in the name of the loyalist cause helped to legitimize and sustain loyalist culture in Scotland, even after the civil religion of loyalism developed into a civil religion of a “Lost Cause.” This work argues that loyalist civil religion was not just a formation of an agreed-upon national creed, but functioned to unify a subgroup within a nation driven to articulate its identity in a way contrary to the national status quo. Loyalist civil religion forged not only a banner of collective allegiance, but also a charter for action. Loyalists not only believed they had the right to pursue their “way of life,” but they were united by the belief that they were engaged in a constant battle with the “shadowy” forces of Roman Catholicism whose collective was supposedly engaged in an ongoing quest to undermine the cherished British “civil and religious liberties” secured by William III in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne.

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