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One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,955 ratings  ·  303 reviews
The provocative and authoritative history of the origins of Christian America in the New Deal era

We’re often told that the United States is, was, and always has been a Christian nation. But in One Nation Under God, historian Kevin M. Kruse reveals that the belief that America is fundamentally and formally Christian originated in the 1930s.

To fight the “slavery” of FDR’s Ne
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Basic Books
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Elizabeth Burton Mr. Kruse takes no real position on the issue. Like the best scholars and journalists, he sticks to the facts and makes no editorial comment. I'm sure…moreMr. Kruse takes no real position on the issue. Like the best scholars and journalists, he sticks to the facts and makes no editorial comment. I'm sure there will be those who may be incensed, but my feeling is that, for the average Christian, knowing how people of faith have been manipulated for political ends for most of the last century might be of use.(less)

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Jason Combs
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! By reading this well-researched book you will learn things like:

- A Christian minister, Francis Bellamy, wrote the original American Pledge of Allegiance without any mention of God because he thought that unifying church & state demeaned & insulted both. He also believed that Jesus taught economic equality and sided with the poor & working class. The original Pledge in 1892 reads,
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, wi
Craig Werner
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, there's a lot of useful information about the emergence of religion as a central part of American political life in the years surrounding World War II. I learned a lot about the highly ideological "Religion in American Life" and "Freedom Under God" campaigns, both orchestrated by businesses threatened by FDR's New Deal. Similarly, I hadn't been aware of how important Eisenhower was in establishing "civic deism" in our political life--prayer ...more
Alan Johnson
This is a very good account of the development of the concept of a "Christian nation" from its use as conservative propaganda against the New Deal to the present. The author interestingly shows how President Dwight D. Eisenhower transformed the idea from being simply part of the tool kit of big business to something that the anti-New Dealers had never intended: it took on a life of its own that has permeated American political culture ever since. Although the author does make an occasional bow t ...more
Bobby Sullivan
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There were times I had to put this book down, because it made me so angry. It incenses me that there are so many Americans who think "In God We Trust" has always been on our money, and "Under God" has always been in the Pledge of Allegiance. This book is important, because it goes back to first causes, when big business intentionally tried to cloak their libertarianism in religion, in order to destroy FDR's New Deal. We see the monster they unleashed every day in American politics. ...more
victor harris
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-history
A very cogent account of how business and religious interests merged to establish a formidable and influential flank in the Republican Party, and it could be argued - have come to dominate it. Initially, much of the alliance was part of an anti-FDR and anti-New Deal coalition, and it had no shortage of Democrats in the mix. From Eisenhower on, it would be the Republicans who would attract the most reactionary elements of Christianity as they sought to obliterate the barrier of church-state sepa ...more
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: listened, history
Fascinating, edifying, and sometimes horrifying. Kruse examines how certain aspects of religion in American government and institutions which are often taken to be “foundational” are actually relatively recent innovations. Beginning in the 1930's, with the efforts of conservative businessmen to counteract FDR's “New Deal,” Kruse looks at conflicts over Social Security, unions, prayer in schools, the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. From backroom deals between businessmen and preachers to courtroom bat ...more
Rebecca Crunden
❧ audiobook review

A mind-blowing look at the way corporations and politicians used religion to gain power and money. Recommended reading for everyone.

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Caroline Ashby
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Though the content was very compelling, I found the act of reading this book to be rather boring. I think the author did a great job on researching and sharing the information he gathered for this book, but the writing style to me was that of nonfiction that I tend not to dabble in. I found myself telling people as I was reading the book that I would have preferred to get this information in the form of a one hour podcast, rather than a 13 hour audio book. My two-star rating however is only a re ...more
Edward Sullivan
The story of how the persisting myth that America is a Christian nation was born and aggressively disseminated in the 1950s with the enthusiastic assistance of Corporate America. A fascinating, lucid, engaging history and, for those who believe in the strict separation of church and state, quite disturbing.
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book does a great job explaining the history of the relationship between conservative economics & politics and evangelical Christianity in the United States. I always wondered why Jimmy Carter, who taught Sunday school and was a publicly faithful practitioner of Christianity, was rejected by self-identified “values voters” in favor of Ronald Reagan, an occasional church attender whose wife was better known for her astrological beliefs than anything approaching mainstream Christianity.

The p
Kimba Tichenor
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
Kevin M Kruse, a historian at Princeton University, does an excellent job of showing how politics and religion have intermingled since the 1930s. However, the argument suggested in the subtitle -- that corporate American played a large role in this entanglement -- largely falls flat. Devout lawmakers of that time and evangelical preachers like Graham were more than capable of arousing passionate religious sentiment in their constituency that led to the legislating of morality. And thus while ico ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Kruse relies on particular, extensive research and storytelling to make his point, always preferable to nonfiction books that simply generalize about a time period or event. You learn a lot from reading Kruse's book: that businessmen in the 1930s used religion (and preachers) to overturn the New Deal, that the phrase "One Nation Under God" was added to currency as late as the mid-20th century and so is *not* part of a longstanding religious history as we've believed, that we've been arguing abou ...more
Dan Wilkinson
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
One Nation Under God is an important book. We — Christians and Americans — need to understand our history. This history consists of far more than the agenda-driven narratives promulgated by advocacy groups, it also includes word and events and motivations that have all too often been conveniently forgotten. 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.
Read my full review here: http://www.patheos.
Jodie L
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent. thoroughly researched and organized. Confirms what I have surmised all along. The profound impact of using religion, not only as a means for corporate America to propogate their own agenda, but to drive a wedge between those in this nation deemed as "the morale majority" and those on the "godless" immoral left, cannot be overstated. ...more
Justin Powell
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's a shame that this book was so short. The author easily could have added another 200+ pages if he had gone into the Reagan administration and on in more detail. I think there's an interesting story of change and resistance to the theocracy from Eisenhower to George Bush Sr.

Hoping for a part two of this story!
Jul 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I really like Kevin Kruse and this story is an essential and interesting one, but the book did not feel entirely complete and coherent to me. I think I was perhaps hoping for more analysis instead of details about the different people and movements involved in the fusion of politics with religion. It's a historians history so by that metric, it's successful. ...more
Lene Jaqua
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
One Nation Under God is a book that should be of interest to a lot of people.  One can gather from the subtitle, How Corporate America Invented Christian America, that it’s approaching the topic from a left-leaning point of view, but don’t let that put you off - Kruse’s coverage of the issue is surprisingly even-handed.  

The book paints a fairly ugly picture of how a cabal of shrewd, rich, white men commandeered American Christianity and forcibly injected a new, strident, politically loaded flav
One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin Kruse

“One Nation Under God" is an even-handed book that makes the record clear on where America’s religious identity came from. Professor Kevin Kruse makes the compelling historical case that America’s religious identity had its roots in the domestic politics against Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s and 1940s. This scholarly 386-page book includes eight chapters broken out into the following three parts: I. Creation
Randall Wallace
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
During the Great Depression in the 1930’s, industrialists tried to counter the selflessness of the Social Gospel but failed. They said the welfare state was a “perversion of Christian Doctrine” and that the focus of Christianity was instead salvation. These industrialists created what is called Christian Libertarianism. They greeted each other with “Hail Capitalism… err, I meant Christianity, you know the guy with the beard.” One of their leaders, Fifield, said that to enjoy fish you have to tak ...more
In 1954, Congress followed Eisenhower's lead, adding the phrase "under God" to the previously secular Pledge of Allegiance. A similar phrase, "In God We Trust," was added to a postage stamp for the first time in 1954 and then to paper money the next year; in 1956, it became the nation's first official motto. During the Eisenhower era Americans were told, time and time again, that the nation not only should be a Christian nation but also that it had always been one. They soon came to believe t
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who tries to sell you the notion that America was founded as a "Christian nation" is full of shit, as this book explains. Most of what's taken for granted as proof, such as the Pledge of Allegiance, and "In God We Trust" as our motto was cooked up in the 50's, mainly as residue from the Red Scare of The Cold War, and exploited by corporations to keep the sheep in line.
Should be required reading for Everyone.
Baal Of
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was angry almost every minute I was reading this book. It's worth reading, but it's damn infuriating. I had no idea that Christian libertarianism had been around for so long. I will also have no more patience for people who say that removing "In God we trust" from the currency is a waste of time. That fact is used continuously to bolster that claim that this is a Christian nation. ...more
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, history lovers, informed voters
Recommended to Liz by: Carol
"The Devil is in the details' as the saying goes and this book is dense with quotes from newspapers, historical brochures, speeches, letters and personal memoirs that "challenges America's assumptions about the basic relationship between religion and politics in their nation's history."
Why do so many think we were founded as a Christian nation? Despite the facts found in reading the documents of the founding fathers who were clearly deists and Thomas Jefferson's insistence to 'build a wall betw
Jun 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Disclaimer: I am a Christian. However, I am a Christian who realizes that American Christianity has become a political tool, a corporatized Christianity, if you will. I read this book in hopes of learning more about this cultural and religious shift.

Kruse's arguments focuses mainly on the 1950s-1980s, specifically on attempts by Christian denominations with national councils to influence the three branches of federal government. One cannot help but draw connections between their actions and the
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A highly researched investigation into the origins of American civic religion as currently manifest in its emphasis on the "Judeo-Christian" tradition and particularly the theme of "One Nation Under God."

Kruse writes books with explosive subtitles with provocative theses that are laid out with impressive detail and saturated with primary source quotations. While most attempt to make sense of America's "civic deism" beginning in the 1950s, Kruse goes back to the 1930s with the coordination betwe
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book looks at the how America got "In God We Trust" on our coins and "Under God" in the pledge of allegiance during the 50s. The common wisdom of today is that it was mostly a reaction to the spread of 'atheistic' communism. As is usually the case, the common wisdom is wrong and only tells a part of the story.

A good history of a subject looks at all the nuances, moving parts and complexity of the times before showing how the common wisdom has gotten it wrong. This book does just that. The a
Christopher Saunders
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
Kevin M. Kruse's One Nation Under God looks at the rise of political evangelism in modern America, and its long history as a cat's paw for reactionary politics. Kruse's study focuses mainly on the period from the 1930s, when corporate and conservative interests embraced Christianity as a weapon against the New Deal, through the battles over the Pledge of Allegiance in the '50s and its evolution to stifle criticism during the Vietnam era. He views the whole thing as a largely cynical invention of ...more
Ryan Cheek
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have a great interest in this topic. It amazes me how one vague statement, pulled from the greater context of the US Constitution, became a tool for the powerful, to rally the masses to their particular causes. How infantile & progress-ressistant this nation has become in the past 60 years because of this inculcation of piety and patriotism. Prior to reading this I had a vague idea of the facts surrounding the whole "religious foundations" of America. However, as I delved deeper into this book ...more
Dennis Henn
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. A must read for anyone who shares my bewilderment on how patriotism, faith and the Republican Party became wedded. I thought the marriage began with Reagan. Kruse points us back to Eisenhower. Did you know Nixon and Billy Graham were close, that Graham used his crusades to rally support for Nixon during Vietnam protests?
"The rites of our public religion originated not in a spiritual crisis, but rather in the political and economic turmoil of the Great Depression. The story of
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Kevin M. Kruse (PhD, Cornell University) is Professor of History at Princeton University. Dr. Kruse studies the political, social, and urban/suburban history of 20th-century America. Focused on conflicts over race, rights, and religion, he has particular interests in segregation and the civil rights movement, the rise of religious nationalism and the making of modern conservatism.

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