The United States have been perceived as a promised land whose superpower status would attest to its divine calling. In the works of conservative painter John MacNaughton, Moses or Jesus Christ stand on Capitol Hill, while the motto “God bless America” can be understood as both a statement and an invitation.

Justice for All (15)

John MacNaughton (1950) is considered the most famous conservative painter in the USA. Donald Trump loves him. In his deliberately kitschy allegories on American values and politics, he gladly depicts major Judeo-Christian figures, such as in this painting on justice for all. Moses carries the Tablets of the Law, standing in the middle of an assembly described by the painter as patriotic. Moses points to the sky to indicate that the law ultimately comes from God and not from men.

John MacNaughton, Justice for all, Lithograph.

“God Bless America” Cap (16)

The formula is the title of a song composed in 1918 by a conscript of the American army. A Russian Jew who had taken refuge in the United States, Irving Berlin wanted to express his deep gratitude for his chosen homeland. Taken up by the African-American partisans of civil rights or by the hawks of the Vietnam War, this unofficial patriotic anthem sanctifies very different causes. All the presidents have recited the blessing, without ever venturing to specify which God is being invoked.