Joined: April 2005
Tacitus's observations are probably more insightful than mine, as I've lived in the US all my life - and haven't even traveled all that much.
But you ask a question that puzzles me, too.
I suspect a full answer to the question would be rather complicated, but here's some suggestions for fragments of an answer.
I think there's a strong undercurrent of religion as an aspect of nationalism (I'm not sure if the word "jingoism" means much to non-native English users - but if it does, that's what I'm getting at.) A lot of Americans seem to think that WE are the new "chosen people", and it's our duty to bring God (= our vision of how things are supposed to be) to the rest of the world. In many, many areas, the line between "patriotic" and "pious" is fuzzy or nonexistent.
We have a ritual here, for which I don't know if there's a Danish equivalent. At the beginning of every school day, every school child is expected to recite, in unison with the rest of the school, the "Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag". (This has always struck me as strange, and very much at odds with what I thought America was supposed to be all about.) Also, all kinds of official meetings - school boards, local legislatures, - also incorporate this ritual: the Reciting of The Pledge.
Here's The Pledge, as of about 1950:
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, with liberty and justice for all"
At the height of the "Cold War", though, I believe in order to emphasize that God was on our side and that the enemy was Godless Communism, an official act of Congress inserted the words "under God" right after "one nation", and that's been part of the ritual ever since. (Pretty strange for a supposedly secular nation, in my opinion.)
Even questioning this is considered "radical". Lately there have been a few court challenges to this practice, but I believe EVERY SINGLE member of congress (certainly all 100 senators; it's harder to keep track of the 434 members of the "lower house") and, of course, the president, and every politician I've heard on the question, rushed to assure the public that they strenuously opposed removing God from The Pledge.
Despite the fact that separation of church and state is supposed to be a bedrock American principle, we have a long history of entanglement of politics and religion. Back in the days of slavery, the anti-slavery forces were pretty sure God would not approve of slavery. Likewise, during the Civil Rights struggles more recently, religion was a powerful organizing tool for people on the left. Meanwhile, the right has made an aggressive claim to have God on their side - the God of "traditional values", who regards homosexuality as an affront, who favors the state of women's rights that existed a hundred years ago, etc.
The first time I was aware of a national politician thinking that an appeal to creationism was a winning idea was when Reagan raised the issue in 1980. Right-wing politicians ever since then have found it addictive, and seem to need a stronger and stronger dose.
Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.