- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (April 14, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465049494
- ISBN-13: 978-0465049493
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America 1st Edition
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Kruse tells a big and important story about the mingling of religiosity and politics since the 1930s.”
Wall Street Journal
America was founded in 1776, but it was only in 1953, with the inauguration of Dwight David Eisenhower as the 34th president, that it became a Christian nation. Such is Kevin M. Kruse's thesis and, after reading One Nation Under God, it makes perfect sense an important and convincing reminder that the roots of Christian America were cultivated well before the era of the religious right.”
An illuminating addition to the growing field of the history of American conservatism and capitalism, as well as a vibrant study of the way cultural influence worksone that will make it impossible to take for granted the small print on the back of a dollar bill ever again.... This is what's most interesting in the story Kruse is telling: the pattern of continuity and change that links our own time with those that came before.”
[A] fine new book.... Kruse's thoughtful book illustrates a kind of life cycle of American religious politics: fervent social movements rise up, crest with presidential support, and then slip away, leaving behind rituals, rhetoric, rules, and reforms.”
Ari Kelman, author of the Bancroft Prize-winning A Misplaced Massacre
In this brilliant and iconoclastic book, Kevin M. Kruse shows how an unholy alliance of greedy businessmen, venal clergy, and conservative politicians exploited American spirituality for partisan gain. Kruse's research is extraordinary, his prose vivid, his argument profound. One Nation Under God is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding contemporary culture in the United States.”
Lizabeth Cohen, author of Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in America, 1919-1939
Prepare yourself for a startling and important discovery: Christian America' is not a legacy of the nation's founders or a construct of the Cold War Era. Rather, as Kevin Kruse so powerfully shows, it was the deliberate invention of conservative corporate leaders who allied with like-minded clergymen in the 1930s to fight the antichrist they most feared: Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Kruse convincingly argues that the rise of the religious right over the next decades grew out of these anti-liberal politics, not the other way around. Church and state' in America has rarely had a better historian than Kruse.”
Both contributes decisively to an ongoing scholarly conversation and introduces its readers to a plethora of little-known documents, archives, organizations, and individuals.... A significant contribution to the history of the Christian Right, the Cold war, and the culture wars of the recent past ”
Religion in American History
An eminently readable book, chock-full of lively and entertaining anecdotes.”
Engagingly traces the rise of the Christian Right as a political force in America.... One Nation Under God is an important book. We Christians and Americans need to understand our history.... In One Nation Under God Kruse offers us a potent reminder of where we have come from, and, perhaps more importantly, how far we still have to go.”
A thorough and fascinating treatment of a little known thread of U.S. history.”
A new, meticulous, and vital historical account that should be read by anyone who still scratches their head over whether the Tea Party is a religious movement, or wonders how the idealized conception of America as a Christian nation' was constructed.... Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand that uniquely American alliance between God and mammon.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers
A detailed history of the roots of the campaign arguing that the United States is a Christian nation.”
A lucid narrative...”
[An] engaging history of modern religious nationalism ... briskly narrated and richly detailed...”
Library Journal, Editors' Spring Picks
Kruse addresses how corporations used clergymen in their PR war against Roosevelt's New Deal and how evangelist Billy Graham helped Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon use religion as the lowest-common denominator' to unite the public. I've yet to finish it, but I can already tell this will be an informative, insightful read.”
Kirkus, starred review
In a book for readers from both parties, Kruse ably demonstrates how the simple ornamental mottoes under God' and In God We Trust,' as well as the fight to define America as Christian, were parts of a clever business plan.”
Library Journal, starred review
Thorough and thought-provoking scholarship.... Kruse reveals the marketing machine behind American godliness with authority, insight, and clarity. He illustrates key turning points along the way to provide a cohesive picture of a well-powered movement. He hands us the agenda behind the Pledge of Allegiance, in God we trust,' and other cornerstones of American patriotism. In short, he exposes the PR man behind the pious curtain.”
E.J. Dionne, Jr., author of Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics after the Religious Right
Much has been written about the religious right, but Kevin Kruse has written a breakthrough book by describing the movement's pre-history in the 1930s and 1950sand in fascinating detail. Engagingly written, One Nation Under God will provoke many arguments, but it will require all sides to come to terms with facts and events largely buried in our collective memory until Kruse bravely set out to challenge our assumptions.”
Dallas Morning News
Illuminating ... a useful corrective to preacher-politicians who endlessly call for a return to the nation's religious roots. As Kruse skillfully demonstrates, some of those roots took hold only yesterday.”
The New Republic
A deftly detailed history of Christianity's service to capitalism in the United States.”
An engaging and important book...”
The American Prospect
Fascinating, vividly drawn portraits of many players in this drama.”
A fresh and revealing re-examination of the oft-studied career of the phrase under God'.... A deft elaboration on the irony of the corporate involvement in the Christian America promotion ... [a] literary portrait taken during the last decades in which Protestant powers ran the show.'”
The author lays out a new mega-subdivision in our sprawling religious history. The result exposes a class of pulpit vipers who infect an insecure quarter of the population and who can never shake the feeling they are not as believed in as they believe they should be.”
Jon Butler, Professor Emeritus of American Studies, History, and Religious Studies at Yale University
Kevin M. Kruse's startling One Nation Under God reveals the extraordinary Cold War politics that put 'under God' in America's Pledge of Allegiance, 'In God We Trust' on U.S. stamps, and Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments on Hollywood's biggest movie list. The political warriors for a 'Christian America' made the Puritans look like pikers, and Kruse dissects their successes and foibles with grace, glowing research, and more than a little humor. A compelling read!”
Andrew Preston, author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy
In this riveting book, Kevin Kruse combines the history of religion with the history of capitalism to craft an original interpretation about America's religious identity. Revisionist in the best sensebold, daring, and intelligentit will change how we think about the American past.”
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Top Customer Reviews
It turned out to be a much more detailed history lesson than just a book ridiculing the right. Even though it was detailed and informative, it wasn't boring. I really got into it.
Corporate America’s creation of a free-enterprise selfish Jesus began in 1935 with the founding of an organization called Spiritual Mobilization. Some of the corporations who donated money to this and similar organizations include: American Cyanamid and chemical corporation, Associated Refineries, AT&T, Bechtel Corporation, Caterpillar Tractor Company, Chevrolet, Chicago & Southern Airline, Chrysler corporation, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Deering-Milliken, Detroit Edison, Disney, DuPont, Eastern Airlines, General Electric, General Foods, General Motors, Goodwill, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, IBM, J. C. Penney, J. Walter Thompson, Mark A. Hanna, Marriott, Marshall Field, Monsanto Chemical Company, National Association of Manufacturers, Pacific Mutual Life Insurance, Paramount Pictures, PepsiCo, Precision Valve Corp, Quaker Oats, Republic Steel Corp, Richfield Oil Co., San Diego Gas & Electric, Schick Safety Razor, Standard Oil Company, Sun Oil company, Sun shipbuilding company, Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation, United Airlines, US Rubber company, US steel corporation, Utah Power & Light, Warner Bros. Pictures, Weyerhauser.
In the 1930s, corporations were well known to have brought on the Great Depression with their tremendous greed and dishonesty. The New Deal reformed the financial system, distributed wealth more evenly, provided a social safety net, protected the people by regulating businesses to protect them from unsafe and unhealthy food, drugs, and other products, toxic pollution, aided farmers in slowing soil erosion to prevent more dust bowls (and feed Americans for hundreds of years-- good topsoil is America’s most important treasure), and other public services that benefited everyone.
The New Deal embodied the ideals of the Social Gospel, a movement dedicated to the public good, economic equality, eradication of poverty, slums, child labor, an unclean environment, inadequate labor unions, poor schools, and war (Wiki Social Gospel).
Corporate America fought against these reforms and has been trying to undo the New Deal ever since then.
One of their most successful tactics was getting religious leaders to spout a new version of Jesus – a free-enterprise, Ayn Rand, selfish Jesus and eradicate the Social Gospel Jesus of the New Deal.
At first ministers and people saw through since this propaganda was obviously craven corporate self-interest.
So the propaganda was crafted more subtly, and sold to conservative religious leaders. Congregations then listened to sermons about the free-enterprise Jesus with open hearts and minds, which they would have laughed at if the speaker were a CEO. The new religion taught them to hate unions, social welfare, to fear and hate government, to be against abortion and birth control (mainly because the more people there are, the less industries have to pay them). It was broadcast from conservative religious radio and TV stations, and in the secular world.
This is why you don’t have a chance of talking Uncle Bob out of voting for demagogues at the Thanksgiving table – you’re attacking his religion and core beliefs he’s heard since his first sermon, and his brain shuts down in anger. He’s been taught since he was a baby that he should hate and fear government, not corporations.
People like to say that capitalism is imperfect, but the best system that exists. Well, it’s great at raping, pillaging, and poisoning land, water, and air than any other system. Industrial farming is depleting aquifers and eroding and compacting top soil to the point where it won’t produce much food after centuries rather than millennia. Global conventional oil production, where 90% of our oil comes from, peaked in 2005 (Aleklett et al. 2012; Kerr 2011; Murray 2012; Newby 2011; IEA 2010; Zittel et al. 2013), declining at a rate of 6% now and increasing to 9% by 2030 (Hook 2009). According to the Department of Energy, you’d want to prepare at least 20 years ahead of time for peak oil (Hirsch 2005), yet here we are 12 years after peak conventional oil, with both Democrats and Republicans assuming that endless growth on a finite planet will fix things. We don’t have endless energy, it turns out that earth is not a giant gas tank, and even if it were, exponential growth would drain it in centuries.
There isn’t a single endeavor that doesn’t depend on energy, especially supply chains, mining, logging, construction, and road building, which are done with heavy-duty trucks, which can only accomplish their work with diesel engines that burn only diesel (Friedemann 2015).
Since the social net is funded by an ever-expanding working population and growth, social security and Medicare are Ponzi schemes, as well as our financial system, which depends on growth to pay back debt. The corporations are about to get the death of the New Deal they’ve so wanted via the decline of our fossil-fueled civilization.
There is no political party that can fix this, so it’s time to strengthen your community to become more resilient, self-sufficient, and able to supply food and other essentials locally. To fix water and sewage infrastructure. It’s time to embrace the social gospel and help community members less fortunate than you in the years ahead.
Aleklett, K., et al. 2012. Peeking at peak oil. Berlin: Springer.
Hook, M., et al. 2009. Giant oil field decline rates and their influence on world oil production. Energy Policy 37(6):2262–2272.
Friedemann, A. 2015. When trucks stop running, Energy and the Future of Transportation. Springer.
Kerr, R. 2011. Peak oil production may already be here. Science 331:1510–11.
Murray, J., et al. 2012. Oil’s tipping point has passed. Nature 481:43–4.
Newby, J. 2011. Oil Crunch (Fatih Birol). Catalyst. ABC TV.
IEA. 2010. World energy outlook 2010, 116. International Energy Agency.
Zittel, W, et al. 2013. Fossil and nuclear fuels. Energy Watch Group.
As Kruse reminds us in the epilogue, the source of America's becoming a "Christian" nation stems from the vitriol of those clergymen who opposed the New Deal. James Fifield and Abraham Vereide, two early proponents of this new America they sought, gave way to Billy Graham and Pat Robertson, who cemented the fact that God and the Republican party were joined at the hip.
A large part of the book deals with how U.S. presidents dealt with the issue. Dwight Eisenhower presided over the change in the Pledge of Allegiance to include, "One Nation under God" and that American currency now bore the phrase "In God We Trust". His chapters lay the necessary groundwork nicely for the two most revealing chapters, "Our So-Called Religious Leaders", which largely deal with efforts to pass a constitutional amendment requiring school prayer, and "Which Side Are You On?", an intense look at how shamelessly Richard Nixon and his administration publicy made God "their own".
While it is hard to imagine today the thousands of billboards and leaflets displayed in the manner that they were in the 1960s, the undercurrent of nastiness that exists to "promote" God remains. You can hear it in the Tea Party. What Kevin Kruse reminds us is that religion was, and still is, as divisive a force as any we have had in the past and have in America today.
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