Author Topic: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse  (Read 4035 times)

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Offline DaveTheReader

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One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« on: June 01, 2015, 09:26:03 PM »
One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin Kruse.
I have wondered for a number of years, why America is so religious, when most of the industrialized world has matured into secularism. I figured that it was because Americans had figured out how to make money from religion. This book traces the rise of religion in America, from the Great Depression to the present. Before that, America was maturing the same as Canada and Europe. I wasn't able to find any faults or factual errors in his historical argument.

The basic story is that some people with money, were upset with the general impression that they had caused the Great Depression. So, they found some willing people to promote the idea that Christianity and Capitalism were the same thing; Jesus would have been a capitalist. And these capitalists were just being good Christians.

Keep in mind that the people with money during the Great Depression were old white men, old, Christian, white men to be precise. And there were men and women who were willing to make money on the gullibility of the American people.

So now, we are stuck with a population of evolution deniers who think the earth is 6,000 years old and that Global Climate Change is a hoax.

This is one of the best books I have read so far in 2015.

Offline Andrew Clunn

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2015, 09:51:11 PM »
So it wasn't the rise of Communism?  Was it really capitalists co-opting religion, or did the atheist movement of the 20s make a horrible error by aligning itself with Marxism?
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Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2015, 10:19:57 PM »
So it wasn't the rise of Communism?  Was it really capitalists co-opting religion, or did the atheist movement of the 20s make a horrible error by aligning itself with Marxism?

Most historians consider it to be the rise of communism and the hysteria around it. This book just came out, and there hasn't been sufficient time for a critical review. In a sense, it was the rise of socialism. According to the book, the original reaction was to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, which some considered to be socialist. Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and so forth, were considered to be socialist, which they are. Basically, anything that helped the Common Man, was considered socialist. And the capitalists wanted to stop it. I guess the idea was to keep the workers pliable.

Also, your point about the atheists aligning themselves with the Marxists was an error. The atheists were duped by Stalin, the Potemkin village comes to mind. Stalin was a master of deception.

The part that I particularly found interesting was how gullible the American people are. During this time, the belief spread that America was founded as a Christian nation, which is complete rubbish. Even a rudimentary understanding of early American history would dispel that notion. The founders wanted to avoid the problems associated with a theocracy and went out of their way to avoid it. In England, you had the killings which occurred when the monarch changed. The Catholic monarch killed protestants and the Protestant monarch killed Catholics. They were killing people because they didn't have the correct beliefs about an imaginary figure.

The next question is why are Americans so gullible?

I think the answer is that Americans as a group seem to lack a sense of history. When migrants moved to America, they left the past behind them. Most other nations are aware of their past. For instance, I found the Irish are aware of the Irish Potato famine as if it happened yesterday. While most Americans don't seem to be aware that Thomas Jefferson was: a slaveholder, had 5 children with one of his slaves, was a theist and was suspicious of Christianity. Jefferson was particularly concerned about a theocracy. Virgina, where he had his plantation, was Anglican. He didn't want that to happen to the new nation. So, the wall of separation between church and state. Many of the founders were either atheists or theists, not Christians of any sort.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2015, 10:30:49 PM by DaveTheReader »

Offline Andrew Clunn

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2015, 01:12:01 PM »
This is gonna be glib, but I find that fairly condescending.  America doesn’t learn from history, or has no sense of history?  Come on.  The Great War didn’t prevent World War II.
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Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2015, 08:15:40 PM »
This is gonna be glib, but I find that fairly condescending.  America doesn’t learn from history, or has no sense of history?  Come on.  The Great War didn’t prevent World War II.

I am actually trying to understand why America is so religious, whereas nearly every industrialized nation is secular. So, my current hypothesis is that Americans lack a sense of history.

You mentioned WW II. After that, most European nations went secular. Canada is secular. Canada actually accepts separation of church and state as part of their identity. You hardly ever hear a Canadian politician talk about Jesus etc. Canadians can watch the same televangelists as Americans. Canada gets the same books, TV, radio, internet, movies etc. as the US, yet Canada is secular, not religious. Why is that? Not only that, but Canada was populated by approximately the same people as the US. There was a separation / selection, which took place during the American Revolution. The law abiding people in the colonies either went back to England, moved to Canada, or stayed in the colonies. For example, Benjamin Franklin's son went back to England. Benedict Arnold, whom Americans consider to be a traitor, was a British loyalist, i.e. a hero to the British Empire.

So, what is the explanation for the difference?

As laid out in the book, the Christian propagandists told the people that America was founded as a Christian nation, which is factually incorrect. The propagandists told Americans that America was a Christian nation; it wasn't when the campaign started in 1934. How were the propagandists able to pull that one off? Those 2 notions are true today, Americans think that America was founded as a Christian nation and America is a Christian nation. That, even though the average American can find history books and internet information on the early history, to the contrary. Here is a logical one for you: Paul Revere went on his midnight ride saying 'The British are coming! The British are coming!' Think about it for a moment. A British subject was riding his horse saying the British are coming. He was warning the people, who were British subjects, that the British are coming. The doesn't require a lot of historical knowledge, just logic. Granted, I hear that these things aren't taught in the schools. It doesn't take a lot of historical knowledge to see that those things were not true in 1934, yet, the public bought into it. By the 1950's, America was indeed a Christian nation. more than half attended a church. From what I have been reading lately, America is gradually going secular, but, at this time, it is still a predominantly Christian nation. The good news is that no one religion has a majority, so, we simply end up with a lot of squabbling. As the old white Christian men die of old age, the trend is to go secular. The internet? Bad news for the Republican Party, the Grand Obstructionist Party, the science denier party. The GOP currently depends on the religious right wing to add the extra votes, to gain power. As the demographics shift, I imagine that the GOP will shift at some point and stop being the religious right party. Maybe they will be the gay party or the marijuana party? Who knows. They just want to be in power, by any means. Once they drop the religious right, there are a lot of possibilities.

So, what is the explanation? Give me a better explanation. And how do you test the new hypothesis?
« Last Edit: June 02, 2015, 08:26:17 PM by DaveTheReader »

Offline Andrew Clunn

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2015, 01:02:06 AM »
We have separation of church and state in the states, unlike in the UK.  I'm saying that your premise is wrong.  Fewer people being religious does not a secular society make.
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Offline Andrew Clunn

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2015, 10:14:20 PM »
Ordered the book.  Hopefully an interesting read.
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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2015, 12:55:49 AM »
Book sounds interesting, thanks.

On the discussion topic: I always figured the dominance of Christianity in the states to have stemmed from a reaction to Communism, like everything about the Communists is evil and wrong, and everything that is opposite of that is good and awesome.
Strange women lying in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government.

Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2015, 10:07:28 AM »
Ordered the book.  Hopefully an interesting read.

You still read printed books?

I am looking forward to your thoughts on the subject.

Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2015, 10:23:08 AM »
Book sounds interesting, thanks.

On the discussion topic: I always figured the dominance of Christianity in the states to have stemmed from a reaction to Communism, like everything about the Communists is evil and wrong, and everything that is opposite of that is good and awesome.

I thought that it was a reaction to Communism as well. Why didn't Canada and Europe go religious as well?. Europe went secular after WW II, from what I hear. Though that would have started with the end of the dark ages? I don't know when Canada went secular, if it ever was religious. I think of politicians as an indicator of what some people are thinking. They lead from behind, as described in the Ringworld series. Canadian politiians avoid talking about religion, which is quite refreshing after listening to American politicians. Even American politicians that I admire have to throw in the occasional 'god bless'.

My earlier theory was that Americans were simply better at making money from a gullible public. Still true, but why are Americans so gullible? That is where I came up with the lack of a sense of history. Europeans usually have a strong sense of history, particularly the educated ones. I am too close to Canadians to observe objectively, but I suspect that they also have a sense of history.

Other ideas are welcome.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 10:31:23 AM by DaveTheReader »

Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2015, 11:13:32 AM »
Perhaps Americans, as a group, lack a sense of history, because, as a group, they don't read books.

A week or so ago, I tried to watch Noah, a fictional treatment of a fictional event in a historical fiction, the Christian Bible. Actually reading the Christian Bible from 'in the beginning' to 'amen'  should reveal its fictional nature. In the movie, the writers handled the problem of Cain finding a mate, by having him, presumably mate with demons (demi-gods). The problem is that Adam and Eve produced Cain and Abel -4 people. Cain killed Abel. 4 minus 1 = 3 people in the world. Cain left Adam and Eve and found a mate! What? The movie solved the problem. The Bible did not. The movie is fiction, not a documentary.

Actually reading the Christian Bible, rather than cherry picking, should reveal its fictional nature. People who don't read, will not do that.

I suspect that only around 15% of adult Americans read books, once they are out of school. A person who used to work at Barnes and Noble thinks I am too pessimistic. She puts it around 20%. Only a percentage of the books read will be history. How many SGU fans actually read books?

The problem to solve with that idea, is that young Americans are less religious than older Americans. Perhaps they are more logical and scientific, even though they don't read books.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 11:35:23 AM by DaveTheReader »

Offline Ah.hell

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2015, 11:21:38 AM »
I find your generalizations regarding Europeans sense of History vs Americans to somewhat questionable.

I suspect there are some underlying issues that you and the book are missing.  The trends in US religiousity that predate the Authors corporate take over for instance:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Awakening
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millerism
Another issue, the US never had the vicious religious conflicts that Europe had and there are in fact a lot groups that came to the US as religious refuges in the first place. 

Also, I'm not sure why the way the Brits view the US revolution being different from the way the US views it has any real bearing on the OP but, of course they see it differently.  Also, Arnold was a traitor.  He went from being a successful US general to working for the British government.  He's twice a traitor really.   First to the Brits then to the US. 

I will also point out that in Irish schools in the 30s my father was taught that the US was a protestant country.  So it wasn't just the US after the 30s where this was a meme.

Also, not sure what Noah has to do with anything. 

Why didn't the europeans have a redscare?

Anyrate, I should probably read the book. 

Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2015, 12:18:44 PM »
I find your generalizations regarding Europeans sense of History vs Americans to somewhat questionable.

I suspect there are some underlying issues that you and the book are missing.  The trends in US religiousity that predate the Authors corporate take over for instance:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Awakening
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millerism
Another issue, the US never had the vicious religious conflicts that Europe had and there are in fact a lot groups that came to the US as religious refuges in the first place. 

Also, I'm not sure why the way the Brits view the US revolution being different from the way the US views it has any real bearing on the OP but, of course they see it differently.  Also, Arnold was a traitor.  He went from being a successful US general to working for the British government.  He's twice a traitor really.   First to the Brits then to the US. 

I will also point out that in Irish schools in the 30s my father was taught that the US was a protestant country.  So it wasn't just the US after the 30s where this was a meme.

Also, not sure what Noah has to do with anything. 

Why didn't the europeans have a redscare?

Anyrate, I should probably read the book.

Thanks for the links. Keep in mind that the authors of wikipedia articles vary widely. I have found errors/omissions in Wiki articles in cases where I knew the story as good or better than the author.

Another interesting book on religiosity in America is: A Christian Nation? An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs by David Rosman. I read this book before the Kruse book. Rosman goes further back in American history than Kruse. Another book of marginal interest in this discussion is Fish on Friday: Feasting, Fasting, and the discovery of the New World by Brian Fagan, which goes further back than Rosman or Kruse. On the theory that the squeaky hinge gets the oil, I suspect that the noisiest people got the attention. The fur trappers were busy trapping and the fishermen were busy fishing. The Christians were busy doing whatever they did. One of the above books talks about the Mayflower. There were actually 3 voyages if I am not mistaken. Fagan's thesis is that the earliest 'Americans' were there to make money i.e. fish. less than half the passengers on the Mayflower were Christians, mostly, they were fisherman, so probably Fagan's book. When the Christians moved to America to flee intolerance back home, they took their intolerance with them to the new world. There was an atheist in the early colony, which was unacceptable to the rabid Christians. They banned him from the colony, along with his followers. They started their own colony, which wasn't good enough for the Pilgrims. They had him arrested and sent back to England. The atheists even had a maypole; shocking. The colonists did engage in the witch burnings and intolerance, just like Europe. That story is probably from Rosman.

Benedict Arnold was born and raised a British subject. With the revolutionary war, he was a soldier in the Continental Army - a traitor. It looks like he became disillusioned and went back to the British, who considered him a hero for doing so - go figure.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedict_Arnold
There were also African slaves who sided with the British - traitors as well. The British ended slavery before the Americans, which is why the slaves followed the drinking gourd to Canada, a British colony.

I suspect that the Noah fictional account / movie of the Biblical fictional account, is how Americans get their history. The movies are there to make money, not teach. The Biblical Noah story probably came from the epic of Gilgamesh. The Babylonian Story of the Great Flood & The Epic of Gilgamesh translated by EA Wallis Budge. The Jesus story is probably based on the Egyptian god Horus, along with a bit of the Roman god Romulus, and maybe even bits of Dionysus and Mithra. They changed the names and places to make it more authentic - Euphemism. The probability of a historical Jesus of Nazareth, seems remote, particularly when Nazareth wasn't occupied at the time of the so called Jesus. It would have been Yeshua ben Yusuf at any rate, not Jesus. There was a Yeshua ben Ananias who was executed in 66 CE for leading one of the Jewish revolts, http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/surfeit.htm

Why the Europeans didn't engage in the Redscare is an interesting question. Why didn't the Canadians engage in the Redscare either, considering their proximity and similar culture? We are now stuck with Christianity, encouraged by the Redscare!

As I continue to noodle the questions, the more I think it has to do with money coming from some rich people, foisted on a gullible public. They were able to do this to a public ignorant of history.

I can see why the Koch brothers are opposed to pollution control, but, one has to question their ethics. After all, they breathe the same air as the rest of us.

The earliest Americans and Canadians were fur trappers and fishermen. The Vikings weren't Christians either. I suspect they didn't go to a Christian church on Sundays. I don't think there were many Christian crosses in L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada, site of some of the earliest North American contact by Europeans.

« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 12:30:17 PM by DaveTheReader »

Offline Ah.hell

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2015, 02:33:13 PM »


Sure, the details in the wiki articles my not be spot on but the great awakenings happened as well as millerism.   I brought them up to point out that there was divergence in religiosity in the US and Europe predating the the plutocrat conspiracy theorized by Kevin Kruse.  At this point, I will also point out that there was never any clear religious majority in the US where as most European Countries have such clear majorities, with at most 2 major denomination.  When I mention the european history of religious violence, I was really talking about the like of Cromwell and the 30 years war, not so much witch burning, which happened once in the territory of the US but was rampant throughout Europe for centuries.  We've had numerous groups of religious refuges come to the US, not just the Puritans.  Mennonites, Amish, Jews, etc....

My general point, is that there are quite a few differences in the history of religions in the US and other industrialized nations, many of which predate the plutocrats conspiracy.

Spanish speakers pronounce it like "hey zeus", the point regarding how Jesus's name would have been pronounced by 1st century Jews is a non sequitur.  The consensus among most historians both religious and secular is that Jesus probably existed.  Even if he was made up out of whole cloth, the connections to Horus are weak at best.  They were both considered gods, gods do miracles and that's about it, same with the rest of the stuff from Zeitgeist the Movie.  Nazareth was likely occupied at the time of Jesus's life.   I'd like to some evidence to contrary.  Frankly, you link to a site called, JesusNeverExisted, makes me suspect the details you doubt in wiki might just be the ones that contradict what you want to believe.  Have you heard of the criterion of embarrassment?

Also, not sure what your saying about Arnold.  Its perfectly natural that we in the US thinks he's a traitor and the Brits say he was a loyalist.  His disillusionment with the patriot cause is generally thought do be do to the lack of good pay.  He almost certainly went back to the Crown for money.  The brits don't call Washington the father of their country either.  That doesn't exactly show some lack of a sense of history.  To that point, you haven't exactly shown that people in the US are uniquely ignorant of history.  I suspect we tend to in the middle of the pack, we almost certainly know less about European history than Europeans though.

The vikings?  Another non sequitur, they came and left with no permanent impact on the continent.   

In short, I think your history is questionable and even if it isn't I don't think what you posted here supports the plutocrat religious conspiracy theory.  I believe I offered some plausible alternative factors that have impacted the differences in the religious development of the US compared to other western nations.  IMHO, you have not demonstrated that the US is uniquely ignorant nor uniquely gullible.    My question would be, what is the best evidence for the conspiracy and the special ignorance/gullibility of Americans?

The TLDR version is in bold. 

Offline Ah.hell

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Re: One Nation Under God by Kevin Kruse
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2015, 02:34:50 PM »
Unfortunately, I just finished finalizes, so I have tons of time to write for now.   ;D