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Currency was a powerful aqueduct by which the Roman Empire circulated its propaganda far and wide.

One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America

Kevin Kruse


At a transition meeting with his cabinet nominees, he announced that they and their families were invited to a special religious service at National Presbyterian Church the morning of the inauguration. “He added hastily as an afterthought that, of course, no Cabinet member should feel under pressure to go to the Presbyterian services,” remembered Sherman Adams, his chief of staff; “anybody could go instead to a church of his own choice.” But given a choice between worshiping with the president or worshiping without him, almost all chose the former. More than 150 supporters joined the extended Eisenhower clan for the services. The event had been publicized widely in the press, so the attendees arrived to find the church completely full; a crowd of eight hundred more huddled outside in the morning chill. This presidential prayer service had echoes across Washington. - Location 182

Eisenhower’s lead, adding the phrase “under God” to the previously secular Pledge of Allegiance. A similar phrase, “In God We Trust,” was added to a postage stamp for the first time in 1954 and then to paper money the next year; in 1956, it became the nation’s first official motto. During the Eisenhower era Americans were told, time and time again, that the nation not only should be a Christian nation but also that it had always been one. They soon came to believe that the United States of America was “one nation under God.” And they’ve believed it ever since. - Location 238

Nor did civil liberties organizations take a stand, at least at first. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), focused on the menace of McCarthyism, paid little attention to the new religious rhetoric and rituals of the Eisenhower era. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the most significant organization of its kind, focused elsewhere as well. - Location 289

In general, these civil liberties groups accepted the then-common claim that the First Amendment mandated the separation of church and state but not the separation of religion and politics. They believed government support for a specific sect was wrong, but support for the generically sacred was fine. - Location 303

Phrases such as “one nation under God” and “In God We Trust”—so seemingly simple, yet actually quite complex—are etched across our lives. They are woven into the pledge of patriotism our children say each morning; they are marked on the money we carry in our wallets; they are carved into the walls of our courts and our Congress. These are everyday things, often overlooked. But at a fundamental level they speak to who we are as a people—or at least who we think we might be or should be. It’s time we stop taking them for granted. - Location 303


Creating Christ: How Roman Emperors Invented Christianity James S. Valliant, C. W. Fahy

Currency was a powerful aqueduct by which the Roman Empire circulated its propaganda far and wide. Because they were produced in the billions, coins are one form of artifact employed in that effort that can never be entirely lost to history. Mini-billboards and bumper stickers jingling in the pockets of the populace from one end of the Empire to the other while transacting the very business of life, coins allowed Romans to advertise the prosperity and peace they brought to the world—the Pax Romana—by proclaiming it right on their money.

Mediterranean rulers used coinage as propaganda for centuries before the Romans, and the Romans were close students of the methods employed by previous rulers. They advanced the use of coins to new heights as a medium for transmitting the self-image and ideology Rome wished to sell to the world. With the advent of empire, Roman propaganda asserted imperial divinity or divine approval for their rule, a project that often entailed affiliating the emperor with official Roman state deities and gods local to certain territories, as well as encouraging the worship of some deceased emperors as gods—precisely the kind of graven images forbidden by Jewish law. In an age when there was no division between politics and religion, the success of Rome was depicted as the result of divine favor and the sanction of the gods made manifest. Coins were a direct way to spread that message.

Not only Rome’s legendary founder Romulus, but also the later founders of Rome’s first imperial dynasty, Julius and Augustus Caesar, were officially deified (made gods), complete with their own cults, temples, and highly organized priesthoods. This deification was proudly celebrated on Roman coins.(Pg.94)


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