“Nine days after the hostage crisis began, he [Reagan] announced his candidacy for the presidency. In a nationally broadcast event that was the most expensive presidential campaign announcement in history, Reagan declared:
… We who are privileged to be Americans have had a rendezvous with destiny since the moment in 1630 when John Winthrop, standing on the deck of the tiny Arbella off the coast of Massachusetts, told the little band of Pilgrims, ‘We shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.’
A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and – above all – responsible liberty for every individual [so] that we will become that shining city on a hill.
I believe that you and I together can keep this rendezvous with destiny.
Straight from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, Winthrop’s city-on-a-hill metaphor has wide resonance in the United States. To make sure of it, Reagan burnished the phrase with a special touch: as he told the Washington Post, Winthrop ”didn’t say ‘shining.’ I added that.'”
David Domke & Kevin Coe – The God Strategy. How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America (p. 50-51).