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One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,354 ratings  ·  224 reviews
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 idea of “Christian America” is an invention—and a relatively recent one at that.

As Kruse argues, the belief that America is fundamentally and formally a Christian nation originated in the 1930s when businessmen enli
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Basic Books
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Amber Dunten It is not anti-Christian at all, if that's what you're really asking. I think it's a very useful history for anyone who wants to have a better…moreIt is not anti-Christian at all, if that's what you're really asking. I think it's a very useful history for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of the relationship between religion and politics in America. There is a lot in it that may be hard for the average Christian to swallow - things that you probably thought were just part of "the way things have always been" will turn out to have very shallow underpinnings and low motivations. But Christianity is not under attack - rather, you should be outraged ON BEHALF OF Christianity. (less)

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3.89  · 
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 ·  1,354 ratings  ·  224 reviews

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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, ind
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.
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: history, listened
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
Peter Mcloughlin
Book makes an argument for corporate America using advertising and public relations to boost religion in the 30s to foster a better political climate for business. This may be a facet of the rise of religion but not the whole story. a pious unquestioning population may be better than questioning radical one and some elements of the business world may have that preference but it is only part of the story of the rise of religion in 20th century America but like a river many streams can feed into i ...more
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 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.
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!
Lene Jaqua
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amber Dunten
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
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 tha
Michael Schellman
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Like most Americans, after the Great Depression, many Christians believed that corporations and Wall Street were the ones responsible for the crash of the market, and they favored the new tough measures put in place to hold corporations in check. At the time Evangelicals were associated by most people with wholesome American values. This book shows that the foundations of the Christian Conservatism start much earlier than Roe V. Wade - as Corporate Moguls sought to rehabilitate their image by wi ...more
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.
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-rated
The second half is far more interesting than the first half. I found the pace of the first half (the Christian libertarian section) to be turgid.

I think the title is a misnomer. I don't think the argument was made that corporate America invented Christian America as much as corporate leaders and religious leaders sharing a common philosophy joined at a propitious time with a sympathetic president, with consequences that we're still feeling today.

That, of course, is a way less cool title.
Baal Of
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
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.
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
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 ...more
Priscilla Herrington
This is a must-read for those who are trying to make sense of the American political scene, and are confused by the history of a nation whose Constitution clearly separates Church and State - yet is billed by many as a Christian Nation. One Nation Under God explains the methodical and cynical "Christianization" of the nation by businessmen fighting FDR's "socialism."

I vividly remember when "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 in the height of the Army McCarthy anti-Communis
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
Oct 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Even though it is heavy reading, especially the first third of the book, I would recommend this.
This shines a light on how big business pushed religion into american mainstream politics in a new way while the ACLU stood idly by. From the beginning started to oppose FDR's "The new deal" to changing the pledge of allegiance, the money, national day of prayer, prayer breakfasts with the president, Nixon's "private" church services in the white house a.s.o.
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.
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
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
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are seeking a background understanding of the religious expressions of reactionary conservatism that seem to be deeply rooted in American Society, this is a great book to start with. It is detailed, readable, and scholarly. It provides context for the relatively recent establishment of ceremonial deism in the institutions and slogans of American Government, including the insertion of "under God" into the pledge of allegiance, and the adoption of "In God We Trust" as a national motto.
Ginger Griffin
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating account of some forgotten history. The "under God" movement began in the 1930s, with conservative opponents of Roosevelt's New Deal (they portrayed Christianity as free-enterprise friendly and saw it as an alternative to growing government power). The movement attracted some wealthy followers, but didn't really take off until the Cold War era. During the Eisenhower years, proclaiming Americans' religiosity became a way to counter "godless Communism." (It was during the 1950s that the ...more
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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.
“Eisenhower, in contrast, turned spirituality into spectacle. At a transition meeting with his cabinet nominees, he announced that they and their families were invited to a special religious service at National Presbyterian Church the morning of the inauguration.” 2 likes
“Hollywood got into the act, with director Cecil B. DeMille helping erect literally thousands of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments across the nation as part of a promotional campaign for his blockbuster film of the same name.” 2 likes
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