According to author Kevin Kruse, the idea that America is a “Christian nation” was invented only recently, forged by an alliance between industrialists and conservative clergy who preached the connection between Christianity and capitalism.
In One Nation Under God, the Princeton history professor issues a twofold corrective: first, to the popular notion that the United States has always understood itself as a Christian nation; and second, to the conventional theory that the religious revival of the 1950s was born of anti-communist panic.
Kruse recently spoke with The Cubit, RD’s religion and science portal, about the myth of the “Christian nation,” the marriage of Christianity and capitalism, and the failure that preceded it.
Where do you locate the roots of America’s “Christian nation” ideology?
It’s true that many Americans thought of their country as a “nation of Christians” from the start, but that was decidedly different from establishing a formal and official “Christian nation.”