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God In America: Soul Of A Nation/Of God And Caesar

Airs Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 12 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Historical photo of Reverend Billy Graham on stage at a rally for "Youth For Christ." In 1947, at the age of 27, Reverend Billy Graham began traveling across America hoping to spark a spiritual revival with his own conversion story. Believing he could save America by saving souls, he became the country’s most famous preacher of all time.

How has religious belief shaped American history? What role have religious ideas and spiritual experience played in shaping the social, political, and cultural life of what has become the world’s most religiously diverse nation? "God In America," a presentation of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, will explore the historical role of religion in the public life of the United States. The six-hour series interweaves documentary footage, historical dramatization and interviews with religious historians.

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"Soul Of A Nation"

The fifth hour explores the post-World War II era, when rising evangelist, Billy Graham, tried to inspire a religious revival that fused faith with patriotism in a Cold War battle with "Godless Communism." As Americans flocked in record numbers to houses of worship, non-believers and religious minorities appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to test the constitutionality of religious expression in public schools. And civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. emerged as a modern-day prophet calling upon the nation to honor both biblical teachings and the founders' democratic ideals of equal justice.

Historical photo of President Ronald Reagan in a meeting at the White House. Early in his term as president, Ronald Reagan seemed to put the evangelical’s social agenda into action proposing constitutional amendments to ban abortion and reinstate prayer in public schools.
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Above: Historical photo of President Ronald Reagan in a meeting at the White House. Early in his term as president, Ronald Reagan seemed to put the evangelical’s social agenda into action proposing constitutional amendments to ban abortion and reinstate prayer in public schools.

"Of God And Caesar"

The final hour explores the religious and political aspirations of conservative evangelicals' moral crusade over divisive social issues like abortion and gay marriage. Across America, the religious marketplace expanded as new waves of immigrants from Asia, the Middle East and Latin America made the United States the most religiously diverse nation. The 2008 presidential election brought the re-emergence of a religious voice in the Democratic Party, bringing the country to a new plateau in its struggle to reconcile faith with politics. "God in America" closes with reflections on the role of faith in the public life of the country.

"God In America: A New Adam/A New Eden" aired Monday, October 11, 2010 at 9 p.m.

"God In America: A Nation Reborn/A New Light" aired Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 9 p.m.

Video

Preview: God In America

Above: For the first time on television, "God In America" tells the sweeping history of how religion shaped public life in America. Presented by AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, the six-hour series covers four hundred years of American religious history ranging from the story of the Europeans who brought their religious traditions to the New World to the modern struggle between secular and religious cultures. "God In America" explores how the quest for religious liberty created a vibrant spiritual marketplace that made the country the most religiously diverse nation on earth.