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The Spiritual-Industrial Complex: America's…
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The Spiritual-Industrial Complex: America's Religious Battle against…

by Jonathan P. Herzog

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This is a compelling book that argues that in the early Cold War, there was a conscious effort by many secular leaders to make the fight against a spiritual battle as well as a material one. The rationale was that the Communists believed wholeheartedly in their cause with a religious fervor. Americans had to have a similar fervor to combat them, but their fervor must come from God. As a result Truman and Eisenhower (though Eisenhower much more) pushed religion as both a reason and a means to fight Communism.

Part of the argument seems obvious. The phrase "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance during this time. "In God We Trust" became the national motto. Church membership soared. But Herzog takes those clear issues and shows that the groundswell of religion didn't just happen on its own. Instead it was promoted from the White House, Congress, media and civic leaders. He does not argue that there was a conspiracy to sacralize the Cold War, but there was a consensus that religion was an essential part, so many leaders moved independently. The result was a dedication to a very vague religion that accepted almost all people of faith.

Herzog suggests that this hurt religion in the long term, because of the backlash against the over-sacralization of the 1950's, but he doesn't really prove this. Instead he shows that as the religious consensus waned in the late 1950's, conservative evangelicals formed organizations to continue the cause, which would eventually lead to the emergence of the religious right in the 1970s.

His epilogue makes the case that religious wars are no longer acceptable to the United States. Reagan's "Evil Empire" speech was largely panned by mainstream America. The War of Terror took a decidedly secular tone, even though it had all the making of a holy war.

This book is both interesting and convincing. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in American religious history. ( )
  Scapegoats | Aug 19, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195393465, Hardcover)

In his farewell address, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation of the perils of the military-industrial complex. But as Jonathan Herzog shows in this insightful history, Eisenhower had spent his presidency contributing to another, lesser known, Cold War collaboration: the spiritual-industrial complex.

This fascinating volume shows that American leaders in the early Cold War years considered the conflict to be profoundly religious; they saw Communism not only as godless but also as a sinister form of religion. Fighting faith with faith, they deliberately used religious beliefs and institutions as part of the plan to defeat the Soviet enemy. Herzog offers an illuminating account of the resultant spiritual-industrial complex, chronicling the rhetoric, the programs, and the policies that became its hallmarks. He shows that well-known actions like the addition of the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance were a small part of a much larger and relatively unexplored program that promoted religion nationwide. Herzog shows how these efforts played out in areas of American life both predictable and unexpected--from pulpits and presidential appeals to national faith drives, military training barracks, public school classrooms, and Hollywood epics. Millions of Americans were bombarded with the message that the religious could not be Communists, just a short step from the all-too-common conclusion that the irreligious could not be true Americans.

Though the spiritual-industrial complex declined in the 1960s, its statutes, monuments, and sentiments live on as bulwarks against secularism and as reminders that the nation rests upon the groundwork of religious faith. They continue to serve as valuable allies for those defending the place of religion in American life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:06 -0400)

This fascinating volume shows that American leaders in the early Cold War years considered the conflict to be profoundly religious; they saw Communism not only as godless but also as a sinister form of religion. Fighting faith with faith, they deliberately used religious beliefs and institutions as part of the plan to defeat the Soviet enemy. Herzog offers an illuminating account of the resultant spiritual-industrial complex, chronicling the rhetoric, the programs, and the policies that became its hallmarks. He shows that well-known actions like the addition of the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance were a small part of a much larger and relatively unexplored program that promoted religion nationwide. Herzog shows how these efforts played out in areas of American life both predictable and unexpected--from pulpits and presidential appeals to national faith drives, military training barracks, public school classrooms, and Hollywood epics. Millions of Americans were bombarded with the message that the religious could not be Communists, just a short step from the all-too-common conclusion that the irreligious could not be true Americans. -- Jacket.… (more)

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