Even if we grant that sacrificial mechanisms organize group identity, what view of the world permits us to regard this organization as religious? Those who reject the actuality of civil religion have done so on the grounds that American patriotism makes scant appeal to a supernatural metaphysics. They define religion as an explanatory system based in a cult of divine beings. The point of contention between those for whom civil religion usefully describes patriotic practices and those for whom it does not is the definition of the sacred. We contend that the doctrines and ceremonies of nationalism clearly reference the sacred. The divine beings invoked by national rituals are the dead totem fathers embodied in the flag. But this is not the only religious test a civil religion of patriotism satisfies. George Kelly proposes that religion is 1) a justification and consolation for the most wrenching human tragedies, especially mortality; 2) a guide to one's dignity of place and meaning in the cosmos, especially in view of personal inadequacy and the need of expiation; and 3) a primary bond of social cohesion expressed in rituals or ceremonies that connect human beings to each other and the sacred. See Politics and Religious Consciousness in America (New Brunswick, Nj: Transaction Books, 1984: p. 11). Whether or not one approves of the answers, these are the questions to which nationalism addresses itself. John Wilson argues that genuine religions exhibit five features that are absent from American civic piety. These are 1) cultic aspects, such as the provision for frequent ceremony and ritual; 2) recognized leadership offices invested with effective authority; 3) explicitly defined individual participation that establishes grounds for membership; 4) doctrines of correct belief, and 5) a coherence among these categories that makes the concept of religion applicable (John F. Wilson, "The Status of `Civil Religion' in America," The Religion of the Republic, ed. by Elwyn A. Smith, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971: p. 12). Nationalism supplies all these in abundance. Still, Kelly argues that the visible symbols "we would naturally attach to the common practice of a civil devotion have been more and more emptied of substance, commitment, and participation" (Politics: 237). It is hard to imagine that he could be thinking of the flag, imbued with symbolic substance as it is and commanding both commitment and participation. "Whatever else civil religion is," he continues, "with its penchant for communicative symbols and collective memory, it is not an indicator of the self-sacrifice of individuals" (Politics: 239). On the contrary, self-sacrifice is the central theme of an American civil religion of patriotism organized around the flag.