American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation

American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation

5.0 1
by Jon Meacham
     
 

In American Gospel (literally meaning the "good news about America"), New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham sets the record straight on the history of religion in American public life. As Meacham shows, faith --meaning a belief in a higher power, and the sense that we are God's chosen people-- has always been at the heart of our national experience, from

Overview

In American Gospel (literally meaning the "good news about America"), New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham sets the record straight on the history of religion in American public life. As Meacham shows, faith --meaning a belief in a higher power, and the sense that we are God's chosen people-- has always been at the heart of our national experience, from Jamestown to the Constitutional Convention to the Civil Rights Movement to September 11th. And yet, first and foremost, America is a nation founded upon the principles of liberty and freedom. Every American is free to exercise his own faith or no faith at all. And so a balance is struck, between public religion and private religion; and religious belief is distinct from morality. As Meacham explains, the well-known "wall" between church and state has always separated private religion from the business of the state, yet religious belief is part of the basic foundation of government. Brilliantly articulating an argument...

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Newsweek managing editor Meacham here holds that, despite the strong religious differences of the Founding Fathers, religion became a force for unity, not division; it shaped the Constitution and the nation without strangling it. This is quite an argument to make given the history chronicled. Quakers were at odds with Anglicans, and New Englanders engaged in witch trials while building a "City of God." Others massacred Indians. The Virginia charter provided for Christian mission but also for taking land and searching for gold. To boot, early settlers of that state purchased slaves. Meanwhile, deists Jefferson and Franklin looked at Jesus as the great moral teacher. The religious spirit was "more sectarian than ecumenical," the author maintains, yet it was recognized that a moral and religious force that God provided could and would serve as a uniting factor. Meacham provides a balanced account of this "American Gospel" as to how it was formed and how it is shaping our history down to such present-day challenges as holiday displays, prayer in schools, abortion, euthanasia, and gay rights. Highly recommended for all libraries.-George Westerlund, formerly with Providence P.L., Palmyra, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
Advance Praise for American Gospel

“In his American Gospel, Jon Meacham provides a refreshingly clear, balanced, and wise historical portrait of religion and American politics at exactly the moment when such fairness and understanding are much needed. Anyone who doubts the relevance of history to our own time has only to read this exceptional book.”–David McCullough, author of 1776

“Jon Meacham has given us an insightful and eloquent account of the spiritual foundation of the early days of the American republic. It is especially instructive reading at a time when the nation is at once engaged in and deeply divided on the question of religion and its place in public life.”–Tom Brokaw, author of The Greatest Generation

“An absorbing narrative full of vivid characters and fresh thinking, American Gospel tells how the Founding Fathers–and their successors–struggled with their own religious and political convictions to work out the basic structure for freedom of religion. For me this book was nonstop reading.”–Elaine Pagels, professor of religion, Princeton University, author of Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas

“Jon Meacham is one of our country’s most brilliant thinkers about religion’s impact on American society. In this scintillating and provocative book, Meacham reveals the often-hidden influence of religious belief on the Founding Fathers and on later generations of American citizens and leaders up to our own. Today, as we argue more strenuously than ever about the proper place of religion in our politics and the rest of American life, Meacham’s important book should serve as the touchstone of the debate.”
–Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors

“At a time when faith and freedom seem increasingly polarized, American Gospel recovers our vital center–the middle ground where, historically, religion and public life strike a delicate balance. Well researched, well written, inspiring, and persuasive, this is a welcome addition to the literature.”–Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University, author of American Judaism: A History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739326671
Publisher:
Diversified Publishing
Publication date:
04/25/2006
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
624
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 8.54(h) x 1.41(d)

Read an Excerpt

American Gospel


By Jon Meacham

Random House

Jon Meacham
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0739326678


Chapter One

"The great fact about America-the American gospel-is that belief in God is central to the country's experience, but faith is a matter of choice, not coercion. Religion is central to American life (from the Mayflower, to Jamestown, to the Declaration of Independence, to today), and consequently we must handle it very carefully."-from American Gospel


From the Compact Disc edition.


Excerpted from American Gospel by Jon Meacham Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jon Meacham is the managing editor of Newsweek. The author of the New York Times bestseller Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, he lives in New York City with his wife and two children. For more information, visit www.jonmeacham.com.

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