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By Kevin M. Kruse

We’re usually informed that the U.S. is, was once, and regularly has been a Christian kingdom. yet in One country less than God, historian Kevin M. Kruse unearths that the assumption of “Christian the USA” is an invention—and a comparatively fresh one at that.

As Kruse argues, the idea that the USA is essentially and officially a Christian state originated within the Thirties whilst businessmen enlisted non secular activists of their struggle opposed to FDR’s New Deal. companies from normal cars to Hilton motels bankrolled conservative priests, encouraging them to assault the hot Deal as a software of “pagan statism” that perverted the important precept of Christianity: the sanctity and salvation of the person. Their crusade for “freedom below God” culminated within the election in their shut best friend Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.

But this obvious triumph had an ironic twist. In Eisenhower’s fingers, a non secular move born towards the govt was once remodeled into one who fused religion and the government as by no means earlier than. in the course of the Nineteen Fifties, Eisenhower revolutionized the function of faith in American political tradition, inventing new traditions from inaugural prayers to the nationwide Prayer Breakfast. in the meantime, Congress further the word “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and made “In God We belief” the country’s first professional motto. With inner most teams becoming a member of in, church club soared to an all-time excessive of 69%. For the 1st time, american citizens started to think about their kingdom as an formally Christian nation.

During this second, nearly all Americans—across the spiritual and political spectrum—believed that their nation was once “one kingdom below God.” yet as american citizens moved from extensive generalities to the main points of concerns resembling university prayer, cracks began appearing. non secular leaders rejected this “lowest universal denomination” public faith, leaving conservative political activists to champion it by myself. In Richard Nixon’s palms, a politics that conflated piety and patriotism grew to become sole estate of the right.

Provocative and authoritative, One country lower than God unearths how the unholy alliance of cash, faith, and politics created a fake beginning tale that maintains to outline and divide American politics to this day.

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At First Congregational and elsewhere, the minister reached out warmly to the wealthy, assuring them that their worldly success was a sign of God’s blessings and brushing off the criticism of clergymen who disagreed. “I have smiled,” he reflected later in life, “when critics of mine have called me the Thirteenth Apostle of Big Business or the St. ”14 While Fifield took a loose approach to the Bible, he was a strict constructionist with the Constitution. Much like the millionaires to whom he ministered, Fifield had watched in alarm as Roosevelt convinced vast majorities of Americans that unfettered capitalism had crippled the nation and that the federal government now needed to play an important new role in regulating the free market’s risks and redistributing its rewards.

32 Clergymen responded enthusiastically. Many ministers wrote the Los Angeles office to request copies of Friedrich Hayek’s libertarian treatise The Road to Serfdom and anti–New Deal tracts by Herbert Hoover and libertarian author Garet Garrett, all of which had been advertised in Spiritual Mobilization. Some sought reprints of the bulletin itself. “I found your last issue of Spiritual Mobilization excellent,” a Connecticut clergyman reported. “Could you send me 100 copies to distribute to key people in my parish?

The fourth and final article, “Human Rights and Property Rights,” by industrial relations author Allen W. ”46 Conservatives concerned about the “creeping socialism” of the welfare state under Truman were emboldened by the Republican gains in the midterm elections of 1950. In an upbeat letter to Alfred Sloan, the head of General Motors and an ardent supporter of his work, Fifield reflected on the recent returns. “We are having quite a deluge of letters from across the country, indicating the feeling that Spiritual Mobilization has had some part in the awakening which was evidenced by the elections,” he wrote.

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