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

Version: Unabridged
Author: Jon Meacham
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Politics, North America, American Politics
Publisher: Random House Audio Assets
Published In: March 2006
# of Units: 6 CDs
Length: 7 hours
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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 that links the Founding Fathers to an insightful contemporary point of view, American Gospel renews our understanding of history, and what public religion has meant in America, so that we can move beyond today's religious and political extremism toward a truer understanding of the place of faith in American society.

Reviews (4)

God and America

Written by Steve Heller on March 18th, 2015

  • Book Rating: 4/5

An excellent survey of the role of what the author calls "public religion" in the United States from the earliest colonial times to the present. Meacham carefully demonstrates the reverence the Founders had for religion as a basis for religious-inspired morality in the commonwealth, while showing they went out of their way to avoid sectarianism (including any recognition of the United States as a "Christian Nation") and support toleration of all beliefs. The books has good sections on this issue in later times--particularly on Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Martin Luther King, and Ronald Reagan. He makes a sympathetic comparison of Billy Graham, who withdrew from political activity, to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who did not.

American Gospel

Written by Anonymous on May 10th, 2013

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Excellent book; gives a clear overview of the role of religion in American history, starting with the Jamestown settlers, through the Founding Fathers, to the near present. Clarifies that to the the Founding Fathers a Creator or Transcendent Power was very much a part of their thinking, but not necessarily a Christian God.

overlong but worth it

Written by D F on August 6th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This book is a bit long and repetitive in structure for audio--no skimming--but anyone who gets frustrated by the heated mix of religion and politics in America would be well served to hear the whole of Meacham's explanation for the balance between secularism and religion reached and maintained in the founding and playing out of American government.

American Gospel

Written by Donald Purciful from Fort Worth, TX on June 15th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I did not like the book nor agree with the message and views of the author. I do not recommend this book at all as the views seem to be from a very liberal secular person.I found his counter claims of the faith of several of our founding fathers not in keeping with other books I have read on the subject and our Great Nation founded on the very principles this author chooses to minimize. The work also did not flow very well as he seemed to get off on tangents and then got hard to follow where he was going with each chapter. One would get the idea he did not like America either and certainly not men of integrity and honesty and a love for the Lord our risen savior Jesus Christ.

Author Details

Author Details

Meacham, Jon

Jon Meacham is the managing editor of Newsweek. Born in Chattanooga in 1969, he is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. The editor of Voices in Our Blood: America's Best on the Civil Rights Movement, Meacham lives in New York City with his wife and son.