A Brief History of Money and Religion

Taylor calls this the "dematerialization of the token of exchange." In paper currency, money becomes a symbol or image of an idea, removed from the substantive form in which it first carried out its function. Paper currency represents the aestheticization of the commodity, in which the token of exchange becomes a work of art. Money and art meet in the bill whose value is established by an arbitrary act that is no longer secured by gold.[10] The invention of new financial instruments is to the technology of exchange what the invention of machines and the development of scientific instruments is to production technology.[11]

Meanwhile, secular art dominated, as representational painting about religious themes receded in culture importance: George Caleb Bingham, 1845, Fur Traders Descending the Missouri.

Manet, 1881, Bar at the Folie Bergere.
In depicting some form of commerce, both Manet and Bingham refer indirectly to money and commerce, without reference to religion.

1880 marks the beginning of the Gilded Age in the United States. Gilded. Gold, the Age of Gold. The Age of Money. American banks enshrine money: bank architecture in this period is neo-classical.[12]

Bank design refers directly to the Parthenon. Between 1880 and 1950 banks were built as "elaborate pagan temples,[13] as "surrogate churches." [14]

It is only speculation as to why the form of the Greek and Roman temple was chosen. Perhaps for its reference to wealth, dignity and majesty.[15]