Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy New
$10.09
  • List Price: $14.95
  • Save: $4.86 (33%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
God Bless America: Strang... has been added to your Cart
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States Paperback – October 1, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$10.09
$8.46 $5.03

The Numberlys Best Books of the Year So Far
$10.09 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States
  • +
  • What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Total price: $25.28
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

Review

America was founded in a religious tolerance which was later enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution. This set up a breeding ground for a motley riffraff of cults and weird beliefs. Karen Stollznow ventured intrepidly into this "Here be Dragons" territory and her book parades specimens and trophies for our amazement, described with lively good humour and analysed with a sympathetic intelligence. One of the commonest questions I am asked is what makes America so religious. Karen Stollznow's book will become an essential resource for answering it.  -Richard Dawkins


The chapter on Scientology is fantastic. It is very specifically detailed with a clear breakdown on the belief system, various programs and abuses. This is deadly concise and makes an incredibly clear and compelling case for the utter absurdity of the church (Though I'd more of ME in it!) -Jamie DeWolf, great-grandson of L. Ron Hubbard. 

Stollznow takes the reader on an entertaining and informative romp through religions that are bizarre (Satanism), highly criminal (offshoots of Mormonism), absolutely ridiculous (Scientology), weirdly archaic and quaint (Amish), exotic and strange (Voodoo), foaming-at-the mouth in ecstasy or exorcisms (charistmatics and evangelicals), profoundly inane (New Agers) and silly (Quakers). God Bless America presents a patchwork quilt made from the fabric of some of America's finest traditions and religions. Stollznow actually mingled with these people and lived to tell the tale! - Robert T. Carroll

In God Bless America, Karen Stollznow opens the doors and looks at the people inside some of the more interesting congregations of the United States.  Maybe it takes an Aussie to really dig down under into these American faith's lesser known secrets?  While respectful, Stollznow doesn't shy away from any of the sometimes disturbing things she finds.  From Shakers to undead movers, it's a spirited book full of surprising beliefs and practices that will engage you thoroughly. - Blake Smith aka "Dr. Atlantis" of the Monster Talk podcast

About the Author

Dr. Karen Stollznow is a linguist with a background in history and anthropology. She is a columnist, podcaster and the author of Haunting AmericaLanguage Myths, Mysteries and Magic, and Red, White and (True) Blue. Karen was a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and has spent many years writing about a diverse array of topics, including language, culture, religion and anomalous claims. Karen was born in Sydney, and has a PhD in linguistics from the University of New England, Australia. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado. 
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pitchstone Publishing (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939578000
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939578006
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ever wanted to find out what's really going on with the more...unusual religious and spiritual practices in the United States? It seems to me as though the best way to see a set of beliefs and practices is to view it as an outsider -- but doing that from the perspective of a rival faith tradition carries its own dangers, hence the need for a book like this in the American discourse on religion, religious belief, religious privilege, and this needs saying as well, the dangers involved in some religious beliefs and practices.

Beliefs are not neutral, as they guide our actions, as we base those on what we hold to be true to better their potential for success. Some beliefs are dangerous to the practitioners, some to those they persecute because of those beliefs, while some belief practices, such as violent exorcisms, can cause injury or death in those alleged to be possessed.

Stollznow's book, God Bless America, puts these into focus, with one of the most objective treatments of the subject I've seen to date. Compare this with Ravi Zacharias' "Kingdom of the Cults," and similar works written by religious apologists currently in print.

The first chapter, Modern-Day Prophets and Polygamists: Fundamentalist Mormons, describes the extreme branches of the Mormon Church, those not considered by the more mainline LDS Church to be true Mormons, but which consider themselves to be that very thing. Some of the early history of Mormonism that gave rise to these breakaway sects, or from which they lay claim to legitimacy, is explained, and their controversial practices and lives revealed with no small amount of scrutiny.
Read more ›
Comment 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What is shunning all about? How many wives can an FLDS member have (a lot, if you have the right connections)? What's the difference between Voodoo, Hoodoo and Santeria? Is your body actually inhabited by the spirits of long dead aliens? Could it be...SATAN? You can find all of this and more in this accessible and fun book on lesser know religions practiced in America. There's a fair amount of humor in Dr. Stollznow's presentations, as well as careful scholarly research. She's also a `Participant Observer' in the classic sense, sitting through Mennonite and Scientology services, the latter one particularly interesting. If you have a curiosity about some of the fringes of Americas spiritual practices, or just want to get a little deeper into comparative religious study, this is an excellent introduction.

Addition, 2/13/2014 - if you get the Kindle edition and read it on your computer, iPad or Kindle Fire, you will be able to follow a link directly to some of the referenced articles. It's a handy way to get a little more info on a particular story or incident.
Comment 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I have picked up things here and there but there are still things I can't wrap my head around when it comes to the different religions and their beliefs. But religion doesn't interest me enough to make a deep study of it like my father-in-law. What I need? Something to give me the basic facts so I don't ask my Mennonites, New Age and Christian friends ignorant questions.

Luckily a person like me can turn to Karen Stollznow's God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States. Yes, that title is certainly a mouthful. But the book itself is easily digestible with chapters covering everything from Fundamentalist Mormons, Amish and Mennonites, New Agers, Satanists, Quakers and more. Each chapter blends a history/breakdown of said religion's beliefs and experiences Karen Stollznow and her husband Matthew had in interactions with the believers. There is a part in Signs, Wonders and Miracles chapter (about Charismatics and Pentecostals) that had me darting into the living room and re-enacting Matthew's session with the Charismatic "healers" complete with a stuffed cat filling in for Matthew.

Thanks to God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States, I now know what an Anabaptist is and sorry Conradin from Saki's excellent and chilling short story "Sredni Vashtar", an Anabaptist isn't as thrilling and wicked as it sounds. I've also found out the differences between Amish and Mennonites. No stupid questions about why some Mennonites use computers and others doesn't from me! <cue my Mennonite friends sighing in relief>

Would I recommend God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States? Certainly!
Read more ›
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I grew up in the Presbyterian Church, we were given a slim little paperback book about the various religious cults and what they believed. We had all heard about the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, and Christian Science, but as naïve high school kids, we knew nothing about them. It was truly an eye-opener to read all about their strange beliefs, as the book preached why they were wrong and why the Presbyterians were right. At no point did the book turn the mirror on itself, and examine the weird ideas espoused by the Presbyterians and other mainstream Christians.
Then, when I began to study comparative religions in college, I encountered a totally different perspective: the detailed (and often dry) scholarly dissection of world religions. These books were often massive, and included huge detailed sections on the mythologies and core beliefs that soon became overwhelming. It was eye opening to see what other religions reveal about the religion you grew up with, but it was also a lot of hard work.
Between these two approaches is Karen Stollznow’s lively book, God Bless America. It strikes the perfect tone between these extremes. It takes an outsider’s view of American religions, as do most religious scholars, without hundreds of pages of tedious details to read through. Yet it also critiques these religions, and comments on the more absurd parts of their theology and belief systems, something that my little Sunday School book also did—but without the commitment to Presbyterianism. It is written in a wry, lively style, often poking gentle fun at the sublime silliness of some beliefs (and the fact that their practitioners see no irony or absurdity in their beliefs).
Read more ›
Comment 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States