Religion in the American Experience

storyofamericanreligion

Follow scholars deep into America’s religious history.

All Episodes

Daniel Walker Howe was born January 10, 1937 in Ogden, Utah. Both of his parents were from Utah, though neither were religious. His mother had grown up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His father’s family had come to Utah to work on the railroads. Daniel’s father was a newspaper man who lost his job during the Depression, and who was hired by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Writers’ Project. He helped write the Utah’s Story under the popular American Guide Series Books. Daniel graduated from East High School in Denver, went to Harvard as an undergraduate, and received his Ph.D. in history at the University of California, Berkeley in 1966. and is an American historian who specializes in the early national period of U.S. history, with a particular interest in its intellectual and religious dimensions. Learn about the influence of religious on Daniel’s life, and understand more about what religion has done to Americans, and what Americans have done to religion.

Aug 2

44 min 45 sec

The most recent addition to the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall is the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in September of 2016. This is a profound and exceptionally meaningful addition to the tapestry woven by the museums in D.C.   From the perspective of The National Museum of American Religion, we want to know more about the roles that religion played in the story of slavery and its aftermath.   To do this, we have with us today Teddy R. Reeves, curator of religion at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Mr. Reeves is also a producer, digital theologian, and a fashion and art enthusiast. He earned his B.A. from Hampton University, his Master of Divinity from Princeton Seminary and is currently a PhD candidate at Fordham University.   In 2018 Teddy created a web-based talk-show series for the Museum entitled “gOD-talk: Black Millennials and Faith Conversation”, which explores the dynamic ways Black millennials are engaging with faith in the 21st century. He is a sought-after public speaker, teacher, facilitator and proclaimer.

Jul 19

1 hr 5 min

Food sustains physical life, and as such is of critical importance to each of us. Some in the country have an abundance; hunger or food insecurity gnaws at others: in which group we find ourselves determines much of our current existence. What we eat also touches on other aspects of our lives besides “need”: celebrations, emotional comfort, health, family traditions, and connections or “breaking bread” with others. For the purposes of this podcast series, we are of course interested in uncovering and understanding the connections between religion and food in the United States – what they are, what they mean, and their significance? To do another deep dive into just one aspect of this fascinating and meaningful subject, we have as our guest Benjamin Zeller, Associate Professor of Religion and Chair of both Religion and Islamic World Studies at Lake Forest College. His research interests include religion in America, religion in culture, religion and science and new religious movements. He is the author of Heaven’s Gate: America’s UFO Religion and Prophets and Protons: New Religious Movements and Science in Late Twentieth-Century America.  For our discussion today, we are looking at his chapter “Quasi-religious American Foodways: The Cases of Vegetarianism and Locovorism” from the book Religion, Food & Eating in North America, edited by Benjamin Zeller, Marie Dallam, Reid Neilson, and Nora Rubel.

Jul 5

39 min 15 sec

Reverend Kim Jackson is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Atlanta, vicar at the Church of the Common Ground, which gives services for the homeless and, as of her electoral victory in November 2020, the first out LGBTQ person ever elected to the Georgia state Senate.  Her father served families as a social worker for more than 30 years. Kim's mom, a retired nurse and Professor of Nursing, served as a community nurse for economically disadvantaged families living with Sickle Cell disease. After graduating from Furman University, Kim volunteered as an EMT and led her colleagues at Emory's Candler School of Theology in advocating for Criminal Justice Reform in Georgia. Upon receiving her Master of Divinity, Kim commenced her vocation as an Episcopal priest. During ten years of ministry, she served as college chaplain, a nationally renowned consultant and preacher, a parish priest and a social justice advocate.  In 2018, the Georgia House of Representatives commended her for her "tireless efforts on behalf of the disenfranchised, disenchanted, and dispossessed" (GA House Resolution 1188).

Jun 21

48 min 46 sec

Capitalism – a massive influence in the American narrative; loved for driving innovations and raising the standard of living; plagued by the production of opulence and the economic inequality left in its wake. If we understand capitalism better, we understand America better. And, it turns out that religion has played and continues to play a significant role in economics, which is of great interest to this podcast series, “Religion in the American Experience.” To better comprehend what is going on between religion and economics, we have with us today Professor Ben M. Friedman, the William Joseph Maier Professor of Political Economy at Harvard University, and author of Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Friedman has also written and/or edited fourteen other books, and more than 150 articles in professional journals, aimed primarily at economists and economic policymakers. His two other general interest books have been The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth and Day of Reckoning: The Consequences of American Economic Policy Under Reagan and After. We guarantee that our time together today will help all of us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will come to better understand how revolutionary and indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its future. Join us in building the “digital first” National Museum of American Religion by donating at storyofamericanreligion.org/contribute, where you can receive a free gift for a donation of $200 or more.

Jun 8

1 hr 32 min

Americans have always thought hard about how to prevent crime and bring about justice, with the desire to create a flourishing society. The prison system is a critical part of the punishment and rehabilitation system in the United States, which has the largest prison population in the world and the highest per capita incarceration rate. Because of this and other reasons, there are often calls for "prison reform", as is the case today. As the country goes about this work, and because religious thought has always been part of the "crime and punishment" discussion in America, the Museum thought it would be helpful to better understand how religion has played a part in the development of the United States prison system over its history. This afternoon we have a fantastic panel of scholars who will, in an hour!, help us do this, or at least scratch the surface! Dr. Vincent Lloyd is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics and Theories & Methods of Culture, Director of Africana Studies at Villanova University, and co-author with Joshua Dubler, of Break Every Yoke: Religion, Justice and the Abolition of Prisons. Dr. Jennifer Graber is a Professor in the History of Christianity and Interim Director of Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and author of The Furnace of Affliction: Prisons and Religion in Antebellum America. Dr. Andrew Skotnicki is a Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College and author of Conversion and the Rehabilitation of the Penal System: A Theological Rereading of Criminal Justice and of the forthcoming book Mental Illness, Prophecy and Incarceration: Injustice, Insight and Insanity.

May 17

1 hr 12 min

Climate change is one of the dominant news stories of the 21st century. Rising sea levels, more fearsome and catastrophic hurricanes, drought, raging wildfires – there is so much here that seems to touch existential fears of humankind. The podcast series “Religion in the American Experience” wishes to understand how religion, one of the greatest forces in the nation’s history and that thing that more than anything else addresses existential questions, figures into American environmentalism, which meets climate change and other challenges facing planet earth, head on.   Today to help us at least begin to uncover some of the relationships between religion and environmentalism, is Mark Stoll, professor of history at Texas Tech University, and author of Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism. Mr. Stoll teaches about environmental history of the history of religion and is also the author of Protestantism, Capitalism, and Nature in America and co-editor with Dianne Glave, of To Love the Wind and the Rain: African Americans and Environmental History. He has a Ph.D. in history from The University of Texas at Austin.   We guarantee that our time together today will help all of us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will come to better understand how revolutionary and indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its future.   Join us in building The National Museum of American Religion in the nation's capital, to open in 2026, on the 240th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's immortal words "Almighty God hath created the mind free", by donating at storyofamericanreligion.org/contribute.

May 4

1 hr 13 min

The "digital first" National Museum of American Religion addresses the critical gap in Americans' understanding of their own history - the story of what religion has done to America and what America has done to religion, including the establishment of the revolutionary and indispensable idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is perhaps the last great untold American story. Our middle and high school history classes, as well as the beautiful museums of the nation's capital, do not fully reveal this tale, which captures the most influential force in our history, for good and ill - the last great untold American story.  Understand America as you never have before.    

Apr 26

51 min 18 sec

There seems to be some sort of mental health crisis, especially among younger people, in the United States – with many experts blaming social media. Teen suicide is in the news, depression seems to be an ever-growing menace. Then COVID hit last year, which has exacerbated the problem. Mental health has a special place as seen through the lens of religion – the sicknesses one can’t see, the depression, the darkness, all things “of the soul” are things religion naturally addresses. At the Museum, we believe it will be instructive for all of us to better understand how religion has seen and addressed mental health throughout U.S. history so that  we are better equipped to address the mental health challenges of our present moment. This morning we have a fantastic panel of scholars: Dr. Judith Weisenfeld, Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She is the author of Hollywood Be Thy Name: African American Religion in American Film, 1929-1949, African American Women and Christian Activism: New York’s Black YWCA, 1905-1945, and New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration. Her current research examines the intersections of psychiatry, race, and African American religion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; Dr. Andrew Walker-Cornetta, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses on how religious communities have shaped the history of disability in the United States. In August, he will begin a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Georgia State University. Dr. Barbara McClure, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Practice at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University, and author of Emotions: Problems and Promise for Human Flourishing. Her primary interests lie primarily in the meaning of and means toward human flourishing, respecting both the fractured character of human nature and the religious impulse for wholeness and coherence; Dr. Kameelah Rashad, Founder and President of Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF) and the founding co-Director of the National Black Muslim COVID Coalition. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology and Muslim Studies at Chicago Theological Seminary; And, Dr. Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez, Associate Professor of Religion at Temple University, and author of The Valiant Woman: The Virgin Mary in Nineteenth-Century American Culture. She is currently a Scattergood Fellow working on a book entitled Challenging the Great Physician: Christian Responses to the Rise of Psychiatry in America.

Apr 20

1 hr 3 min

Listen to David Black, an attorney from Great Falls, Virginia, talk about  religion's influence on him during his early life in the 1970s and 1980s and then during college and beyond, and how that makes him who he is today as an actor on the American stage. Religion has profoundly influenced the sweeping American narrative, from the times of the Indigenous peoples to the present. The start-up digital-first National Museum of American Religion is the nationally recognized center for presenting, interpreting, and educating the public about what religion has done to Americans and what Americans have done to religion. It invites all to explore the role of religion and the freedom that fuels it, in shaping the social, political, economic and cultural lives of Americans and thus America itself. The podcast series "Religion in the American Experience" is releasing the first episode of its new program, “The Making of US: Lived Religion in America”, which collects and disseminates personal stories about religion’s influence on the lives of the nation’s citizens. It is through hearing these stories that we can better comprehend ourselves, our communities and the nation, and see more clearly how the American project can endure.  

Apr 12

57 min 27 sec

We have all been part of the recent contentious U.S. presidential election, which finally ended in the transfer of power in January of this year.  At the Museum we observed that, as usual, a colossal amount of energy, money, time, emotion, concern, debate, argument, Tweets, posts, letter-writing, editorializing, and protest were invested in the election and its outcome. America was all in. That is, Americans have a deep and meaningful allegiance to perfecting, preserving and perpetuating the American experiment in self-government. Some religious beliefs even tie into the country’s founding & purpose. At the same time, however, we also noted that while that patriotic allegiance is powerful, for a large percentage of Americans, perhaps no longer a majority – at least according to a very recent report, there is most likely something that commands a greater allegiance – and that would be their faith. Many faiths have end-times theologies, including Christianity, which believes in an approaching end of the world and the return of Jesus Christ. So, it occurred to us that religious beliefs about the end of the world may play a large but hidden role in our politics – past, present and future.   If we can understand some of the beliefs about the end of the world and their effects on political behavior, we will be better equipped as citizens trying to see to the success of the American project in the 21st century.   Today we have a fantastic panel of scholars who will, in an hour!, help us scrape the surface, maybe do a deep dive or two:   Matthew Sutton, the Berry Family Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts at Washington State and author of American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism Matt Harper, Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Mercer University and author of End of Days Christopher Blythe, Research Associate at Brigham Young University’s Maxwell Institute and author of Terrible Revolution: Latter-day Saints and the American Apocalypse Arlene Sanchez-Walsh, Professor of Religious Studies at Azusa Pacific University and author of Latino Pentecostal Identity: Evangelical Faith, Self, and Society Jacqueline Keeler, writer and activist of Dineh and Yankton Dakota heritage, co-founder of Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry (EONM), and author Standoff: Standing Rock, the Bundy Movement, and the American Story of Occupation, Sovereignty and the Fight for Sacred Lands Larry Perry, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; currently working on a book entitled A Black Spiritual Leftist: Howard Thurman and the Religious Left’s Unfinished Business of Race Relations William Dinges, Ordinary Professor of Religion and Culture at The Catholic University of America and co-author of Young Adult Catholics: Religion in the Culture of Choice

Apr 5

1 hr 4 min

Food sustains physical life, and as such is of critical importance to each of us. Some in the country have an abundance; hunger gnaws at others: in which group we find ourselves determines much of our current existence. What we eat also touches on other aspects of our lives besides “need”: celebrations, emotional comfort, health, family traditions, and connections or “breaking bread” with others. For the purposes of this podcast series, we are interested in uncovering and understanding the connections between religion and food in the United States – what are they, what do they mean, and how significant are they? To do a deep dive into just one aspect of this fascinating and meaningful subject, we have as our guest Kate Holbrook, currently managing historian in the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dr. Holbrook received her master’s degree at Harvard Divinity School and PhD in religion and society from Boston University in 2014. She is the author of many articles and chapters, and co-editor of several books, including At the Pulpit: 150 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women, Women and Mormonism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, and The First Fifty Years of Relief Society. For our discussion today, we are looking at the chapter she wrote in the book Religion, Food & Eating in North America, called edited by Benjamin Zeller, Marie Dallam, Reid Neilson, and Nora Rubel published in 2014.   Today’s episode will help us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will see how indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its ability to fulfill its purposes in the world.

Mar 29

51 min 25 sec

America is a nation of immigrants, except for the Indigenous Peoples who were here before European colonization and the Africans brought here against their will and sold as enslaved people.   I just read this in the newspaper a few days ago “Administration short of shelter space amid ‘overwhelming’ [immigration] surge: record number of unaccompanied minors being held in adult cells far longer than legally allowed.” This morning’s paper had another front page piece on the surge at our southern border. Immigration reform is a major policy task of the current administration.   It is also important to note that there has been a recent rise in attacks against Asian Americans, addressed in an editorial of a major national newspaper over the weekend.   We feel that a better understanding of how religious beliefs have influenced the attitudes and government policies towards immigrants throughout U.S. history can benefit us in our present moment.   Today we have a panel of fantastic scholars who will help us do a deep dive:   Melissa Borja, Assistant Professor in the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan, and author of the forthcoming book Follow the New Way: Hmong Refugee Resettlement and Practice of American Religious Pluralism;   Grace Yukitch, Professor of Sociology at Quinnipiac University, and author of One Family Under God: Immigration Politics and Progressive Religion in America;   Fenggang Yang, Professor of Sociology at Purdue University, and author of Chinese Christians in America: Conversion, Assimilation, and Adhesive Identities;   Shari Rabin, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Religion, and author of Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth-century America;   Kristy Nabhan-Warren, Professor and Chair in Catholic Studies at the University of Iowa, and author of the forthcoming book Meatpacking America: How Migration, Work, and Faith Unite and Divide the Heartland.   And, Nick Pruitt, Assistant Professor of History at Eastern Nazarene College and author of the forthcoming book Open Hearts, Closed Doors: Immigration Reform and the Waning of Mainline Protestantism.

Mar 22

1 hr 13 min

Food sustains physical life, and as such is of critical importance to each of us. Some in the country have an abundance; hunger or food insecurity gnaws at others: in which group we find ourselves determines much of our current existence. What we eat also touches on other aspects of our lives besides “need”: celebrations, emotional comfort, health, family traditions, and connections or “breaking bread” with others. For the purposes of this podcast series, we are interested in uncovering and understanding the connections between religion and food in the United States – what are they, what do they mean, and how significant are they? To do a deep dive into just one aspect of this fascinating and meaningful subject, we have as our guest Derek Hicks, Associate Professor of Religion and Culture at Wake Forest University’s Divinity School. Hicks teaches and researches broadly in the areas of African American religion, religion in North America, race, the body, religion and foodways, theory and method in the study of religion, Black and Womanist theologies, and cultural studies. Dr. Hicks is the author of the book Reclaiming Spirit in the Black Faith Tradition and is currently working on a second monograph entitled Feeding Flesh and Spirit: Religion, Food, and the Saga of Race in Black America. He also contributed chapters for the book Blacks and Whites in Christian America: How Racial Discrimination Shapes Religious Convictions.   For our discussion today, we are looking at his chapter “Gumbo and the Complex Brew of Black Religion” from the book Religion, Food & Eating in North America, edited by Benjamin Zeller, Marie Dallam, Reid Neilson, and Nora Rubel.   I am confident that today’s podcast will help us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will see how indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its ability to fulfill its purposes in the world.   We encourage our listeners to visit storyofamericanreligion.org and register for future podcast notifications under the “signup” tab.

Mar 15

1 hr 4 min

It has been noted that religion was prominent at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, as it often is at presidential inaugurations, in traditional ways: the oath of office was taken with the president’s hand on the family bible; the invocation was offered by a Catholic priest, the benediction by an African Methodist Episcopal Church pastor; musical numbers with threads of religion in them, including Amazing Grace, were performed; and Old Testament scripture and God were invoked by President Biden in his address. Yet, religious tests for public office are banned by the Constitution, America may have no state church, and we are sensitive to the intertwining of government and religion. Adding to that mix, the Pew Research Center reported a few years ago that “the U.S. is steadily becoming less Christian and less religiously observant” AND there is a fully developed idea in the public square, that religion is part of, not a solution to, America’s problems. “American Civil Religion” (in quotations), the idea that a nonsectarian quasi-religious faith exists within the U.S. with sacred symbols drawn from national history, may be helpful to us at our present moment in American history. We can use it as a lens to view the recent inauguration and our current politics generally, as we participate in the American experiment in self-government, founded 245 years ago, saved 156 years ago, and work to see it successfully extended into the future for ourselves and children. What are we to think of American Civil Religion? What is its history? What does it mean? How does it motivate us? What are the ramifications? Is it on the upswing or is it fading away? What has it done to us? What does it do to us? How does it drive our behavior, political or otherwise? Today’s panel consists of four scholars who will help us with these questions: Dr. Nichole R. Phillips is Associate Professor in the Practice of Sociology of Religion and Culture, Director of the Black Church Studies Program at Emory University; and author of Patriotism Black and White: The Color of American Exceptionalism. Dr. Philip Gorski is Professor of Sociology at Yale University and author of American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present Dr. John Carlson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University where he directs the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. He is co-editor of From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence and America. Dr. Lisa Barnett is Assistant Professor of American Religious History at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Mar 8

1 hr 4 min

From Edwin Drake’s 1859 discovery of oil in Pennsylvania to our 21st century entanglements in the Middle East, oil’s influence on America is vast. Religion’s role in this American oil story is outsized, and relatively unknown, and understanding it will help us more fully comprehend what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion—which is understanding America itself. We trust that at the conclusion of this podcast, listeners will have a deeper appreciation of religious freedom as a governing principle in the United States and will see to its protection as an indispensable part of the fragile American experiment in self-government. Today we have with us Darren Dochuk, the Andrew V. Tackes College Professor of History at The University of Notre Dame, and author of Anointed With Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America. Mr. Dochuk’s primary research interest is 20th century United States, with an emphasis on the intersections of religion, politics, and the rising influence of the American west and Sunbelt Southwest in national life. He is the author, editor and co-editor of many books, including From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism, God’s Businessmen: Entrepreneurial Evangelicals in Depression and War, and Faith in the New Millennium: The Future of Religion and American Politics. Professor Dochuk received his PhD from The University of Notre Dame.   To join the cause in establishing the "digital first" National Museum of American Religion, visit storyofamericanreligion.org/sign-up and sign up for newsletters and podcast notifications.

Mar 1

1 hr 27 min

Sports is everywhere in America, as we all know: the Super Bowl, the Masters, the World Series, the Stanley Cup, the Olympics, the NBA, MLB, NFL, youth travel sports, and the list goes on and on. So if we understand sports, we may understand America. For us on the podcast series, the question is “does religion factor into sports”? It seems the answer is a loud “yes.”   In 1976 Sports Illustrated published a three-part essay by the famed sports commentator Frank DeFord titled “Religion in Sport” in which he analyzed the cozy relationship between Christianity and sports in the United States, and it was in this article that he coined the term “sportianity”, writing this: it is almost as if a new denomination had been created: Sportianity. While Christian churches struggle with problems of declining attendance, falling contributions and now even reduction in membership, Sportianity appears to be taking off.” That same year Michael Novak published The Joy of Sports, articulating the religiosity embedded in the playing and cheering of sports.   This discussion will help us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will see how indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its ability to fulfill its purposes in the world.   Today to talk about religion and sports we have with us Jeffrey Scholes, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, and author of the book Christianity, Race and Sport, to be published next year by Routledge Press. Professor Scholes’ research interests center on the relationship between religion and sports, and American political theology. He is the author of Vocation and the Politics of Work: Popular Theology in a Consumer Culture and co-author of Religion and Sports in American Culture.   Join us in building The National Museum of American Religion in the nation's capital, to open in 2026, on the 240th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's immortal words "Almighty God hath created the mind free", by donating at storyofamericanreligion.org/contribute.   For a contribution of $200 or more you will receive a free copy of the book When Sorrow Comes: The Power of Sermons from Pearl Harbor to Black Lives Matter, by Melissa Matthes, professor of government at The United States Coast Guard Academy. Her forthcoming book reminds us that in the face of national crisis, faith leaders have incredible power to help Americans endure, even flourish, and further the work of improving the imperfect yet noble American experiment in self-government.

Feb 22

54 min 30 sec

Our history is clear: religions and their leaders have always inspired Americans during times of national tragedy and crisis with their words – their sermons that give their people hope. Today the country faces a raging global pandemic, now going on twelve months, and its staggering effects: death without loved ones near, unemployment, hunger, shuttered public schools, uncertainty, isolation, fear, and closed temples, mosques, synagogues, and churches. What counsel have religious leaders been offering to their people in the face of the pandemic? We thought “Religion in the American Experience” could both capture history in real-time, AND  be of service to the country, by convening a panel of American religious leaders to share what they have told their congregations and believers, with a broader national audience.  Today’s panel consists of ten religious leaders, some with national scope others with regional or local scope, and we thank them for their willingness to be with us. I will introduce each as we move through the hour-long panel. The start-up National Museum of American Religion will be both the place of convening in Washington, DC, for discussions about current national issues where religion or the idea of religious freedom is in play, as we are doing today, AND the nationally recognized center for presenting, interpreting, and educating the public about what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, including the history of the revolutionary and indispensable idea of religious freedom as a governing principle in the United States. Join us in building The National Museum of American Religion in the nation's capital, to open in 2026, on the 240th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's immortal words "Almighty God hath created the mind free", capturing the American essence of religious freedom, by donating at storyofamericanreligion.org/contribute. For a contribution of $200 or more you will receive a free copy of the book When Sorrow Comes: The Power of Sermons from Pearl Harbor to Black Lives Matter, by Melissa Matthes, professor of government at The United States Coast Guard Academy. Her forthcoming book reminds us that in the face of national crisis, faith leaders have incredible power to help Americans endure, even flourish, and further the work of improving the imperfect yet noble American experiment in self-government.

Feb 15

1 hr 8 min

Sports is everywhere in America, as we all know: the Super Bowl, the Masters, the World Series, the Stanley Cup, the U.S. Open, the Olympics, the NBA, MLB, NFL, youth travel leagues, high school sports, and the list goes on and on. So maybe if we understand sports better, we can understand America better. For the podcast series “Religion in the American Experience”, we want to learn about the relationship between religion and sports – which it turns out, is a deep and meaningful one. This discussion will help us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will see how indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its ability to fulfill its purposes in the world. Today to discuss religion and sports we have with us Rebecca Alpert, Professor of Religion at Temple University and author of Religion and Sports: An Introduction and Case Studies, which we will use as the basis of the interview today. Her research interests include religion and sport, religion and sexuality and American Judaism in the twentieth century. She is also the author of Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball and co-editor of Gods, Games, and Globalization: New Perspectives on Religion and Sport, published in 2019. Professor Alpert was among the first women in America ordained as a rabbi. We encourage listeners to visit  storyofamericanreligion.org and sign up for future podcast notifications under the “signup” tab. I am confident that today’s podcast will help us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will see how indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its ability to fulfill its purposes in the world.

Feb 8

55 min 28 sec

The Catholic Church is the United State's second largest religious grouping, after Protestantism, and the country's largest church or religious denomination.  As of 2018, 23% of the United States population was Catholic. This is startling when you realize that at the beginning of the American experiment, religions and their adherents were almost completely Protestant and vehemently, sometimes violently, anti-Catholic. The story of this transformation is critical to understanding the American religious landscape, which is another way of saying it is critical to understanding America. And, often the best way to understand a historical movement or event is to learn about individual actors on history’s stage. Importantly, as historian Anne Braude of Harvard Divinity School wrote: “Women’s History is American Religious History.” One prominent Catholic in American history is Elizabeth Ann Seton, who began the Sisters of Charity, the first religious community of women founded in the United States, and who was the aunt of Seton Hall University’s founder, Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley. Today to help us understand the life and times of Elizabeth Ann Seton is Catherine O'Donnell, Professor of History at Arizona State University and author of Elizabeth Seton: American Saint, which was awarded the Distinguished Book Award by the Conference on the History of Women Religious, for books published from 2016-2018, as well as the Biography Prize from the Catholic Press Association. Her primary research interests include Early American history, culture, and religion. She is also the author of Men of Letters in the Early Republic and many articles appearing in venues including the William and Mary Quarterly, the Journal of the Early Republic, Early American Literature, and the US Catholic Historian. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on early American history and the Atlantic World. It is hoped that our time together today will help us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will come to better understand how revolutionary and indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its future. Join us in building The National Museum of American Religion in the nation's capital, to open in 2026, on the 240th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's immortal words "Almighty God hath created the mind free", by donating at storyofamericanreligion.org/contribute.

Feb 1

59 min 28 sec

Welcome! The start-up National Museum of American Religion is dedicated to telling the profound story of what religion has done to America and what America has done to religion, convinced that understanding this history will help us all see the revolutionary nature and indispensability of the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle in the United States. Through the podcast series “Religion in the American Experience” scholars of American history share stories of religion exerting a vast influence, for good and ill, on the imperfect yet noble American experiment in self-government and its people. These are tales all Americans need to hear in order to better understand America and their role in its present & future.   Just two days ago we saw the inauguration of a new president of the United States, and just the second Catholic president in our history. Knowing that religion is a profound shaper of men and women, Wednesday’s peaceful transfer of power made us think that it would be fascinating, even beneficial to 21st century American progress, to learn more about American presidents and the religions that shaped them. Our panel this morning consists of (and panelists, please raise your hand when your name is read): Gary Scott Smith, who before his retirement, chaired the History Department at Grove City College and is the author or editor of eleven books including Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush and Religion in the Oval Office: The Religious Lives of American Presidents. Smith is also an ordained minister in the PCUSA and served five congregations as an interim or stated supply pastor. Randall Balmer taught at Barnard College and Columbia University for twenty-seven years before moving to Dartmouth College in 2012, where he was named the Mandel Family Professor in the Arts & Sciences. He is the author of Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter. He is also an Episcopal priest. Balmer was nominated for an Emmy for scriptwriting and hosting the three-part PBS documentary Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, an insightful and engaging journey into the world of conservative Christians in America, based on his book with the same title.  Join us building The National Museum of American Religion in the nation's capital, to open in 2026, the 240th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's immortal words "Almighty God hath created the mind free." Contribute today at www.storyofamericanreligion.org/contribute.

Jan 28

1 hr 1 min

The Civil Rights Movement is important to America and it’s important to Americans at this point in our national history. The story itself and the reception of the story is complex, nuanced, messy, profound, compelling, sad, joyful, hopeful and despairing. The Civil Rights Movement story is inextricably linked to Black slavery, what some call one of America’s two original sins. A good way to better understand any event or movement in history, and what it importantly projects onto the present, is to focus on individual actors on history’s stage. The name Fannie Lou Hamer will most likely not be familiar with most of our listeners – she was one of these larger-than-life actors in the Civil Rights Movement. For the purposes of this podcast series, we want to know about her religious thought motivated and animated her fight for full civil rights for Black Americans. To do this we have with us Maegan Parker Brooks, associate professor in the School of Civic Communication and Media at Willamette University, and author of several books and other media about the life and times of Fannie Lou Hamer, including Fannie Lou Hamer: America’s Freedom Fighting Woman and the children’s book Planting Seeds: The Life and Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer. She received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009, and is a teacher-scholar working at the intersections of rhetoric, race and public memory. Today’s episode will help us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will see how indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its ability to fulfill its purposes in the world. We encourage our listeners to visit storyofamericanreligion.org and register for future podcast notifications under the “signup” tab.

Jan 25

1 hr 7 min

Welcome! I’m your host Chris Stevenson, of The National Museum of American Religion, which is dedicated to telling the profound story of what religion has done to America and what America has done to religion. From what I saw on TV as it was happening and what I have read in the newspapers in the days afterwards, “religion” was very present at the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. “Jesus Saves” signs; prayer groups; a large wooden cross on the east plaza; and from an article in the paper the next morning “beneath streaming flags … people loudly exhorted Jesus and chanted ‘USA’!” We are here this morning to learn the lessons of history, specifically the history of religion and politics in the United States, from a panel of leading American scholars, and offer these lessons to the public so we can all better understand and react to, the violent occupation of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Our panel consists of (and panelists, please raise your hand when your name is read): Marie Griffith, Director of The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis Jamil Drake, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at Florida State University Lerone A. Martin, Associate Professor of Religion and Politics, also at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics  Hasia Diner, Director, Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History at New York University Amy Black, Professor of Political Science at Wheaton College Go to www.storyofamericanreligion.org/sign-up/ to register for podcast notifications.

Jan 18

1 hr 13 min

Hello, this is Chris Stevenson, host of the podcast series “Religion in the American Experience.” Due to the events of last week at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. we will not publish, as we usually do, our normally scheduled episode on Monday January 18th. Instead, over the next two weeks we will convene a panel of American religious history scholars to discuss how the history of religion and politics can help us better understand and react to the storming of the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. The recording of this discussion will be released Monday January 25th, on Podbean, Apple Podcast and Spotify. I look forward to meeting you then!   If anyone thinks about religion in America, which thinking is absolutely essential to understand America itself, one of the first things that comes to mind, whether one is religious or not, is “Billy Graham.” And even if not, because of his 20th century (the “American century”) influence, we should think about him. Born in 1918 on a dairy farm in North Carolina, Billy Graham later would be an advisor to American presidents, travel the world including behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, and fill stadiums to witness his preaching. Our discussion about this towering figure on the American historical stage will help us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will see how indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its ability to fulfill its purposes in the world. Today we have with us Grant Wacker, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Christian History at Duke University, and author of America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation. He specializes in the history of Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, World Missions and American Protestant thought. He is the author or co-editor of seven books, including Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (2001, Harvard University Press). He has served as a senior editor of the quarterly journal, Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture, and is past president of the Society for Pentecostal Studies and of the American Society of Church History, and a trustee of Fuller Theological Seminary. This episode was recorded on December 8, 2020. We encourage our listeners to visit storyofamericanreligion.org and register for future podcast notifications under the “signup” tab.

Jan 11

1 hr 5 min

The name Joseph Smith is known to many Americans, as is the faith he founded, once called “Mormonism”, but recently having requested to be identified by their original, historic name: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Joseph Smith is revered by members of that church as a “modern prophet of God”; and derided by others as a “charlatan” or worse. We thought that to understand American religion, which is really part of the quest to understand America itself, it would be helpful to know, as best we can in an hour, what the historical record has to say about this man.   Today we have with us Richard Bushman, Gouverneur Morris Professor Emeritus of History, United States at Columbia University, to help us understand who Joseph Smith was by discussing his book Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, A Cultural Biography of Mormonism’s Founder. Mr. Bushman specializes in the social and cultural history of the United States and received his PhD from Harvard University. He is the author of several other books, including From Puritan to Yankee: Character and the Social Order in Connecticut, 1690-1765, King and People in Provincial Massachusetts, and The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities. We encourage listeners to visit  storyofamericanreligion.org and resister for future podcast notifications under the “sign-up” tab.

Jan 4

48 min 38 sec

The interest in religion and the founding of the United States is broad, deep, intense and continuous. And this interest is had by those who are themselves religious and those who are not.   Today we have with us two scholars who have expertise in this area, Mark David Hall and Daniel Dreisbach, to help us understand what we know about this from the historical record and what we don’t.  Daniel Dreisbach is professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology at American University in Washington, D.C., with primary research interests in American constitutional law and history, First Amendment law, church-state relations, and criminal procedure. He received his J.D. from the University of Virginia and his PhD from Oxford University. Dr. Dreisbach is the author, editor, or co-editor of a dozen books on religion in America, including his recently published Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers.  Mark David Hall is the Herbert Hoover Distinguished professor of politics at George Fox University in Oregon, with primary research interests in American political theory and the relationship between religion and politics. He received his PhD from the University of Virginia.  Dr. Hall is the author, editor, or co-editor of a dozen books on religion in America, including most recently Did America Have a Christian Founding? We encourage listeners to visit  storyofamericanreligion.org and sign up for future podcast notifications under the “Sign Up” tab.

Dec 2020

1 hr 2 min

“Religious freedom” is everywhere in the news: it is invoked, it is debated, it is implicated, it is litigated, it is ridiculed, it is derided, it is loved, it is honored, it is before the Supreme Court & school boards, and it is found in religious sermons. The National Museum of American Religion offers to shed light on its history, in the hope that Americans, knowing some of its history, will understand this governing principle better, how revolutionary it is, how fragile it is, how dynamic it is, and how indispensable it is to America in fulfilling her purposes in the world, and so commit to protect and preserve it. Today we have with us Tisa Wenger, associate professor of American religious history at Yale Divinity School, to show us some of this history of religious freedom by discussing her book Religious Freedom: A Contested History of an American Ideal. Professor Wenger’s research and teaching interests include religious encounters in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States; the cultural politics of religious freedom; and the intersections of race, religion and empire in American history. She is also the author of We Have a Religion: The 1920s Pueblo Indian Dance Controversy and American Religious Freedom. Sign up for notifications of future podcasts: www.storyofamericanreligion.org/sign-up/

Dec 2020

53 min 42 sec

When one thinks of what religion has done to America, at least for me and I think for many of our listeners, “Baptists” come to mind – they are influential, they are large in number, and their history is very much linked to American history. If one wants to understand America, one needs to understand America’s religious history – and if one needs to understand America’s religious history, one must understand Baptist history. We have with us today Barry Hankins, Professor of History and Department Chair at Baylor University, who will walk us through some of the more important parts of Baptist history in the United States (focusing on post Civil War up to the present) using the fantastic book Baptists in America, written by Professor Hankins and his Baylor colleague, Professor Thomas Kidd. Dr. Hankins’ research interests include religion and American culture, Protestant Fundamentalism and EvanGELicalism, and church and state in American history. He received his PhD from Kansas State University in 1990, and is the author of several books including Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President, Jesus and Gin: Evangelicals, the Roaring Twenties, and Today’s Culture Wars, and God’s Rascal: J. Frank Norris and the Beginnings of Southern Fundamentalism. Also, as with each episode in our podcast series “Religion in the American Experience”, we trust that listeners will come away with a better comprehension of what religion has done to America and what America has done to religion, and thus come to value the necessity of this idea of religious freedom as a governing principle to America fulfilling her purposes in the world. Got to www.storyofamericanreligion/sign-up/ to register for notifications of all future podcasts!

Dec 2020

56 min 25 sec

A few months ago I saw the title of a new book about missionaries who spied for the United States during World War II and knew we had to do a podcast episode about it. Religion’s influence on American foreign policy is an important and fascinating one, and this is a relatively unknown story that is just coming to light. It may have also caught my attention because I was a missionary in northern Germany in 1989 and 1990, and spent time in Berlin both before and after the Berlin Wall fell. We are honored to have Dr. Sutton with us today to discuss his book Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War. Dr. Sutton is the Berry Family Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts in the Department of History at Washington State University. He teaches courses in 20th century United States history, cultural history and religious history. Dr. Sutton received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2005, and is the author of several books including American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelism, Faith in the New Millennium: The Future of American Religion and Politics, and Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America. Also, as with each episode in our podcast series “Religion in the American Experience”, we hope listeners come away with a better comprehension of what religion has done to America and what America has done to religion, and thus more fully comprehend the necessity of this idea of religious freedom to America fulfilling her purposes in the world. Sign up for podcast notifications at https://storyofamericanreligion.org/sign-up/.

Dec 2020

51 min 1 sec

Blacks in America are seared into the national consciousness. Slavery is considered one of America’s two “original sins.” Jim Crow, lynching, racism, inequality, mass incarceration, police brutality, specifically the death of George Floyd earlier this year, white supremacy – all are part of our understanding of the flawed yet noble and grand American tapestry. To many Americans, I think, the “Black church” holds some sort of special place in our thinking of Blacks and the varied roles they have played in the fragile American experiment in self-government   Professor Eric McDaniel is here with us today to discuss his book Politics in the Pews: The Political Mobilization of Black Churches, in an effort to help us better understand this particular part of American religious history – the role of the Black church in American politics.  Eric McDaniel is Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. Professor McDaniel specializes in American politics. His research areas include religion and politics, Black politics, and organizational behavior. His work targets how and why Black religious institutions choose to become involved in political matters. In addition, his work targets the role of religious institutions in shaping Black political behavior. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2004. Please go to storyofamericanreligion.org and sign up for future podcast episode notifications under the "Sign Up" tab.

Dec 2020

49 min 6 sec

United States foreign policy is of great interest to all Americans because of the important thread in the American narrative that says we should use our blessings of freedom and wealth to benefit the world: foreign policy matters. The burning question for us is, how did religion influence American foreign policy and war? To help us answer this question we will talk with Andrew Preston, Professor of American History at the University of Cambridge and author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy. Mr. Preston specializes in the history of American foreign relations, specifically the intersection between national and international, including the influence that domestic politics and culture – particularly religion – have had on conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Also, as with each episode in our podcast series “Religion in the American Experience”, we hope listeners come away with a better comprehension of what religion has done to America and what America has done to religion, and thus more fully comprehend the necessity of this idea of religious freedom to America fulfilling her purposes in the world. Please go to https://storyofamericanreligion.org/sign-up/ and sign up for notifications of future episodes!

Nov 2020

49 min 50 sec

As we all observe and participate in the national reckoning with racism after the death of George Floyd on May 25th of this year, a fuller and more accurate understanding of how race and religion have been intertwined in United States history will be of use. Paul Harvey is the Distinguished Professor of History and Presidential Teaching Scholar at University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, where he researches, writes and teaches in the field of American history from the 16th century to the present. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkley in 1992. Dr. Harvey is the author of many books, including Howard Thurman and the Disinherited: A Religious Biography; The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in American History; and Freedom’s Coming: Religious Cultures and the Shaping of the South from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Era. We are very happy to have Paul here to help us understand a particular part of American religious history – the intersections of religion and race, by discussing his book, Bounds of Their Habitation: Race and Religion in American History published in 2017. Also, as with each episode in our podcast series “Religion in the American Experience”, we hope listeners come away with a better comprehension of what religion has done to America and what America has done to religion, and come to see how revolutionary and indispensable the idea of religious freedom is to America being able to fulfill its purposes in the world. Be sure to follow the podcast series "Religion in the American Experience" by going to storyofamericanreligion.org under the Podcast tab.

Nov 2020

54 min 14 sec

When European Christians arrived in this vast territory we now call the Americas over 400 years ago, they found indigenous people here with their own meaningful and personal and sacred religious beliefs. The contact and conflict between Europeans and Natives sparked a long-term series of religious encounters that intertwined with other settler colonial processes, such as commerce, government, enslavement, warfare and evangelization. The taking of Native Americans’ land and their lives have been called one of America’s two “original sins.” The legacies of colonialism swirl all about us still, including broken treaties, reservations, alcoholism, poverty, despair, misunderstandings, and questions of sovereignty, alongside of survival, persistence, cultural and linguistic revitalization, and a return to traditional practices. Because religion was central to these processes in colonial America, and continues to play an important role today, taking a look at the religious interactions between European colonists and Native Americans will help us all better understand these issues and help each other flourish in the American 21st century. Linford Fisher is a professor of history at Brown University. He received his doctorate from Harvard University in 2008. Professor Fisher's research and teaching relate primarily to the cultural and religious history of colonial America and the Atlantic world, including Native Americans, religion, material culture, and Indian and African slavery and servitude.  Go here to sign up and follow The National Museum of American Religion! https://storyofamericanreligion.org/contact/ 

Nov 2020

52 min 8 sec

Once again America is reckoning with racism, this time in the wake of George Floyd’s death. 2020 is point near to us on the long historical timeline of both black slavery AND racism in the United States, which includes the secession of southern States in 1860 and the calamitous Civil War which followed, killing more than 600,000 Americans, and raining down disaster and ruin on the young nation’s homes and communities. We are very grateful to have Professor Mark Noll with us today to plumb the depths of his book The Civil War as a Theological Crisis, hoping that this will help all us better understand the reckoning America has undertaken. Dr. Noll is an American historian specializing in the history of Christianity in the United States. He holds the honorary position of Research Professor of History at Regent College, having previously been the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Noll was awarded the National Humanities Medal in the Oval Office by President George W. Bush in 2006. He is the author of many books including Protestantism--A Very Short Introduction, God and Race in American Politics: A Short History, and America's God, from Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. Go to https://storyofamericanreligion.org/contact/ to sign up for future podcast notifications!

Nov 2020

54 min 27 sec

Evangelicals have been active and influential in all parts of the American experience. For this interview, the term “Evangelical” is defined as: believers who (1) have had a born-again experience resulting in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, (2) accept the full authority of the Bible in matters of faith and conduct of life, and (3) are committed to spreading the gospel by bearing public witness to their faith. Their impact on U.S. foreign policy is large, fascinating and full of experiences with direct bearing on our politics today. This is especially true as Americans look abroad to the Middle East and China, two places where one, the United States has been actively engaged in the last several decades, and two, the culture is wrapped in powerful religious ideas very foreign to Christianity in general, and evangelicalism in particular. Today we are grateful to have Professor Lauren Turek with us to discuss her book To Bring the Good News to All Nations: Evangelical Influence on Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Relations. The case studies in her book detail the extent of Evangelical influence on American foreign policy from the late 1970s through the 1990s. Dr. Turek is an Assistant Professor of History at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She earned her doctorate in history from the University of Virginia in 2015, and holds a degree in museum studies from New York University as well as a degree in history from Vassar College. Dr. Turek is a specialist in U.S. diplomatic history and American religious history, and is currently at work on a second book project, which will explore congressional debates over U.S. foreign aid in the twentieth century.  Go to https://storyofamericanreligion.org/contact/ to sign up for future podcast notifications!

Nov 2020

54 min 33 sec

Religion and the concept of religious freedom as a governing principal in the United States, has always played a role in our politics, and that includes in presidential elections. As we are all aware, 2020 has been no different. History can help us navigate today’s contentious zone of Church and State, and the contest between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1800 may be particularly beneficial. Ed Larson, author of A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign, holds the Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair in Law and is University Professor of History at Pepperdine University. He has a PhD in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a law degree from Harvard. Prior to becoming a professor, Larson practiced law in Seattle and served as counsel for the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC. Mr. Larson is the author or co-author of fourteen books and over one hundred published articles, including the Pulitzer Prize winning Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. His latest book, On Earth and Science, was published by Yale University Press in 2017. He was a resident scholar at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study Center; held the Fulbright Program's John Adams Chair in American Studies; and served as an inaugural Fellow at the Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. Go to https://storyofamericanreligion.org/contact/ to sign up for future podcast notifications!

Oct 2020

43 min 16 sec

2020 has brought America the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest wildfire season in California history, according to the California officials, and so many hurricanes that we have had to start using Greek letters to identify them. These things have traumatized Americans and America itself. When Americans have experienced trauma, they have often reached out to religion hoping for some emotional comfort, physical assistance and answers to help them understand the sometimes chaotic and destructive world that surrounds them. Peter Thuesen just published what is, for these reasons, a very timely book called Tornado God: American Religion and Violent Weather, which, and I’m quoting here from the book cover flap, "captures the harrowing drama of tornadoes, as clergy, theologians, meteorologists, and ordinary citizens struggle to make sense of these death-dealing tempests. Mr. Thuesen says something that all Americans should listen to: ‘in the tornado, Americans experience something that is at once culturally peculiar and religiously primal.... In the whirlwind, Americans confront the question of their own destiny’...."  Go to https://storyofamericanreligion.org/contact/ to sign up for future podcast notifications!

Oct 2020

52 min 57 sec