Contrary to popular assumption
Contrary to popular assumption, it’s not just because the United States is one of the most religious countries on earth, although this certainly plays a part. Several researchers have highlighted that the United States possesses its own particular type of “civil religion”, that is, a religion of the state, separate and distinct from traditional religions such as Judaism and Christianity, but nonetheless relying heavily on these for images, narratives, rituals and rhetoric. As part of this civil religion, the US President assumes the role of both prophet and priest (and, occasionally, martyr) of the nation.
Presidential rhetoric offers numerous examples of the President acting in this capacity, particularly during times of crisis. Let’s consider, for example, these words from the opening of Obama’s 2010 State of the Union, in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s