Friday, October 15, 2010

PBS Frontline - God in America

Posted October 11, 2010 on PBS Frontline:
Since the days when the Puritan "city on a hill" beckoned on the horizon of the New World, religious faith and belief have forged America's ideals, molded its identity and shaped its sense of mission at home and abroad.

For the first time on television, God in America explores the tumultuous 400-year history of the intersection of religion and public life in America, from the first European settlements to the 2008 presidential election. A co-production of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, this six-hour series examines how religious dissidents helped shape the American concept of religious liberty and the controversial evolution of that ideal in the nation's courts and political arena; how religious freedom and waves of new immigrants and religious revivals fueled competition in the religious marketplace; how movements for social reform -- from abolition to civil rights -- galvanized men and women to put their faith into political action; and how religious faith influenced conflicts from the American Revolution to the Cold War.

Interweaving documentary footage, historical dramatization and interviews with religious historians, the six-part series is narrated by actor Campbell Scott and includes appearances by actors Michael Emerson (as John Winthrop), Chris Sarandon (as Abraham Lincoln. and Keith David (as Frederick Douglass), among others.
Read more


  1. I watched for 1 minute without puke. Who did more?

  2. If you go to the PBS / God in America web page, you can't help but note that a substantial portion of the "Faithbook" enties are from atheists. ( ).
    I liked the a "know thy enemy" kind of way.

  3. There are some interesting facts that can be learned from viewing the last part of the documentary, such as it being a Presbyterian sermon that inspired Billy Graham to push for the whole anti-communist “Under God” debacle, that President Eisenhower (a Presbyterian) did essentially call atheists “silly” on a television broadcast, and that the progenitor of the evangelical movement into politics was kicked off by Francis Schaeffer (a Presbyterian pastor).

    What is up with the Presbyterian Church?

  4. Uhh, it's PBS, I think it deserves A LITTLE MORE than 1 minute's consideration. I'm a half hour in and it's a very informative historical documentary.

  5. I haven't watched it yet but I have to ask those who did:  How did they treat Fredrick Douglas's unbelief?  According to the credits in the blurb, it will mention Fredrick Douglas (because an actor is listed as playing him).  Basically that's my litmus test of whether or not the documentary treats the issue fairly, and whether or not I want to watch it.  If a documentary is allegedly about how religion shaped America's social movements, and it features a prominently atheist abolitionist, it better damn well mention that he's an atheist or else it's not being fair about the issue it's alleged to be covering.