American civil religion - the ritual practice/s and theological discourse/s that attempt to connect the nation-state to God/"the sacred" and citizens to each other in a "sacred bond" (see Emile Durkheim, Robert Bellah, Martin Marty)
Liberation Theology - theological assertion that God is on the side of the oppressed
Recently, I had another realization. American civil religion is also a form of Prosperity Gospel. Essentially, the message is, if Americans have enough of the right kind of faith, the United States will be prosperous and successful. This realization came to me as I was reading Gutterman and Murphy's Political Religion and Religious Politics: Navigating Identities in the United States (Routledge, 2016). In describing the Prosperity Gospel Preacher, Gutterman and Murphy write (quoting Walton) that:
"...ministries are developed around the charismatic authority of a particular [leader] to the extent that the form and function of the ministry often reflects the personal narrative- real or constructed- of its leader." Preachers, in turn, are equally dependent on a receptive and enthusiastic audience. The flashy lifestyles and effusive self-confidence of the prosperity preachers are wholly crowd-dependent... Prosperity ministers often embody a kind of "great man" theory of Christian success... Not only do prosperity preachers offer models of the rewarded faithful person... they also reinforce the this-worldly and consumerist model of individual desire... Religious consumers want to invest themselves in and with winners.
When I started to see Trump as a Prosperity Gospel preacher, asking people to have faith in him and to demonstrate it by "sowing" their vote into his "ministry" in order to become prosperous, a lot of things fell into line. Civil Religion and Prosperity Gospel go together with Trump's rise. So, I did a little searching and found some pretty great resources for those who might be interested in this sort of thinking.
If you're a religion, politics AND superhero geek, then read Jeremy Biles' great article:
"Captain America: Civil Religion (And Why Donald Trump Thinks He's Batman)"
If you want a more straightforward account of Trump and American civil religion, check out these two:
Bonnie Kristian's "The Idolatry of the Donald" over at the American Conservative.
Shuck and Hitchcock's "Donald Trump and the Bully Pulpit of U.S. Civil Religion" at RealClearPolitics
If you're more interested in the Prosperity Gospel angle, check out these:
Jeff Sharlet's "Donald Trump: American Preacher" on NYTimes
Blair's article on a critique of Prosperity Gospel through lens of Trump at Christian Post
Sarah Posner's article for the Washington Post (one of many trying to explain the attraction of evangelical voters)
There are MANY more, including some that note the number of prosperity preachers in Trump's corner.