Topic: CultureTraditions

Last updated: May 3, 2019


Van Leer 2009 has already offered some reflections on why religion plays such a significant role in US presidential politics. It is widely believed that the significance of religion in US presidential politics is related to the broader institution that is American Civil Religion, with the US president being seen as prophet, priest and occasionally martyr for that cause. This typology has strong resonances in both Judaic and Christian traditions. As the High Priest of the American Civil Religion, the President is held to a higher standard. Just like the High Priests of ancient Israel, who were held to a higher standard than the rest of the population, the US president is also upheld as moral and spiritual guide of the nation, as well as its military and political leader. Jesus is described throughout the New Testament as Prophet, Priest, King and Martyr for the cause of reconciling humanity to God, strengthening the correlations between Judeo-Christian religious rituals and narratives and that of US civil religion. These similarities give us some insight as to why it is so important for presidential candidates to provide evidence of robust faith, or, at the very least, a strong moral and ethical code.

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