Kevin Kruse

How Big Business Invented the Theology of 'Christian Libertarianism' and the Gospel of Free Markets

During the Great Depression, big business needed rebranding.  Blamed for the crash, belittled in the press, and beset by the New Deal’s regulatory state, corporate leaders decided they had to improve their image, and soon. “The public does not understand industry,” an executive complained, “because industry itself has made no effort to tell its story; to show the people of this country that our high living standards have risen almost altogether from the civilization which industrial activity has set up.”  

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The Pervasive Distribution of the Gideon Bible Finally Stopped at the Schoolhouse Door

For the evangelical businessmen who belonged to the Gideons International, Inc., selling God was a second calling, if not their first. Founded by a trio of traveling salesmen at the end of the nineteenth century, the Gideons made a name for themselves in the early twentieth by putting millions of copies of the Holy Bible in hotel and hospital rooms across the nation. During the Second World War, the organization distributed, with the military’s blessing, a specially prepared edition of the King James Version of the New Testament and Book of Psalms to every member of the armed forces. After the conflict, the group created a new paperback version of this “Gideon Bible” (now with the Book of Proverbs as well) for distribution at public and private schools for all students between the fifth and twelfth grades. In the words of W. L. Hardin, an Atlanta contractor and past president of the Gideons, their new ministry would help them meet their long-standing goal “to win men and women for the Lord Jesus Christ” by reaching them earlier in life. “In the days of their youth, before the evil days come,” Hardin said in 1946, “the boys and girls of our public schools may by means of the precious Word of God, come to know Him.”

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How Corporate America Invented Christian America

The following is an adapted excerpt from Kevin Kruse's new book,  One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (Basic Books, 2015).

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Happy Holidays!