In an effort to bring America together following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, Donald Trump is deploying civil religious rhetoric: sacred, quasi-religious symbols that lean on and reinforce the country’s values.
Professor Flavio Hickel Jr., who studies civil religion and how presidents respond to mass shootings, said Trump’s speech addressing the nation was stocked with this language.
“He spent quite a bit of time talking about who we are as a people and how this crime runs counter to that vision – and how the proposals he suggested would help to better realize that vision,” said Hickel Jr., a professor of Political Science and International Relations.
Numerous presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, have successfully used civil religious rhetoric to bring the country together, either in times of crisis or to sell their agenda to the public.
In addition to these topics, Hickel Jr. is also an expert on national identity rhetoric as employed by the presidency.