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One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America
One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America
By Kevin M. Kruse
384 pp, Basic Books, 2015

Americans have been arguing about the role of religion in government since the earliest days of the republic. In 1789, soon after taking office, President George Washington declared a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer.” God had bestowed a republican government on the United States, said Washington, and the nation ought to express its gratitude. Just 12 years later, President Thomas Jefferson abruptly canceled the ritual. The First Amendment, explained Jefferson, erected a “wall of separation between church and state.”

Jefferson’s wall could have used a better contractor. Today, there is hardly an aspect of American political life untouched by religion. God seems to be everywhere. The nation’s official motto is “In God We Trust.” The phrase is printed on the nation’s money, affixed behind the Speaker’s dais in the House of Representatives, and engraved over the entrance to the Senate. The Pledge of Allegiance declares a nation “

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  • JAMES MORONE is John Hazen White Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University. His most recent book is The Devils We Know: Us and Them in America’s Raucous Political Culture. Follow him on Twitter @profjimmorone.
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