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155 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Religion and American Politics: Then and Now, April 14, 2006
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This review is from: American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation (Hardcover)
When I read the riveting prose of "American Gospel" my second thought was, "This is sure to infuriate diehards on both sides of the "religion in America" debate. If Amazon reviews are any indication, my second thought was correct. Fortunately, "experts" on "both sides" such as David McCullough and Elaine Pagels, hardly naive historians, offer a more balanced assessment.

My first thought? "God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation" is a well-written and well-research summation of a long-debated and still needed topic. The author, Jon Meacham, is an established writer (BA in English Literature, managing editor of Newsweek) and historian ("Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship").

In "American Gospel" Meacham avoids the extreme that every founding father was an atheist or deist, and the extreme that every founding father was a Christian. More importantly, what he quotes (and he uses a plethora of primary sources) he quotes in context--both the historical context and the documents context. Many of the quotes are well-established in the debate about our religious history. His work sheds new light on them.

His book will serve as a launching pad for continued debate on the place of religion in American society, in particular, in government, law, and politics. It certainly won't end the debate, but it has the potential to make it more intelligent. For this reason, and because the writing is tight, creative, and imaginative, "American Gospel" is a must read for all history buffs and politicians.

Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of "Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction," "Soul Physicians," "Spiritual Friends," and the forthcoming "Sacred Friendships: Listening to the Voices of Women Soul Care-Givers and Spiritual Directors."
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