New PBS Series, 'God in America', Offers Insights of History on Today's Religious and Political Controversies

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

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September 10th, 2010

via press release:

New PBS Series, God in America, Offers Insights of History on Today's Religious and Political Controversies

Monday, October 11, 2010 - Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 9-11 p.m. ET

BOSTON, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- From the debate over the building of an Islamic center near Ground Zero to the threat by a Florida church to burn copies of the Quran, religion continues to animate American political discourse just as it has since the country's founding. Now, for the first time on television, God in America explores the tumultuous 400-year history of the intersection of religion and public life in America. A co-production of American Experience and FRONTLINE, the six-hour series airs October 11-13 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.

God in America examines the potent and complex interaction between religion and democracy, the origins of the American concept of religious liberty, and the controversial evolution of that ideal in the nation's courts and political arena. The series considers the role religious ideas and institutions have played in social reform movements from abolition to civil rights, examining the impact of religious faith on conflicts from the American Revolution to the Cold War, and how guarantees of religious freedom created a competitive American religious marketplace.

God in America's thought provoking insights emerge in interviews with an elite roster of American religious scholars and historians. They include, among many others, Stephen Prothero, chief editorial consultant for God in America, professor of religion at Boston University, and author of Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--And Doesn't; Frank Lambert, professor of history at Purdue University and author of Religion in American Politics: A Short History and The Battle of Ole Miss: Civil Rights vs. States' Rights; and Stephen A. Marini, Elisabeth Luce Moore Professor of Christian Studies and Professor of American Religion and Ethics at Wellesley College, and author Radical Sects of Revolutionary New England and Sacred Song in America: Religion, Music, and Public Culture.

"In light of current events, I can't think of a better time to be having this conversation about the role of religion in American public life," says God in America executive producer Michael Sullivan. "Almost four hundred years after Puritans landed in the American colonies to build their 'city upon a hill,' religious values and ideas continue to stir debate and shape American politics and society."

The films in the six hour series interweave documentary footage, interviews with religious historians, and dramatizations to bring to life stories of the men and women whose religious faith and belief helped forge America's ideals, mold its identity, and shape its sense of mission at home and abroad. In a fresh, distinctive approach to historical documentary, God in America dramatizes some of the conflicts, dilemmas, and critical decisions of these key figures in their own words.

"While God in America relies entirely on documentary evidence to examine religious history in America, that evidence is just one part of the story," series director David Belton explains. "There are also the deeply felt, personal experiences of the people who shaped this country as they struggled to express themselves religiously in the new world."

A distinguished list of actors has been enlisted to portray the historical figures. Two-time Emmy winner Michael Emerson of Lost, delivers a powerful performance as Puritan leader John Winthrop; Oscar-nominated Chris Sarandon (The Princess Bride, Dog Day Afternoon) gives a poignant portrayal of Abraham Lincoln's spiritual journey during the Civil War ; Olivier Award winner and Tony nominee Toby Jones (Frost/Nixon, Harry Potter , W) as George Whitefield, America's first, national evangelical preacher; Keith David (Crash, Platoon) as abolitionist Frederick Douglass; and Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays (I Am My Own Wife) as the incarcerated Baptist minister Jeremiah Moore.

God in America is an American Experience/FRONTLINE co-production, headed by series executive producer Michael Sullivan, series producer Marilyn Mellowes, series director David Belton and producer/directors Sarah Colt and Greg Barker. The executive producer for FRONTLINE is David Fanning. The executive producer for American Experience is Mark Samels.

American Experience and FRONTLINE are produced by WGBH and broadcast nationwide on PBS. Major funding for God in America is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Fetzer Institute, with additional support from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Exclusive corporate funding for American Experience is provided by Liberty Mutual. Major funding is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation with additional funding by the Park Foundation. FRONTLINE, American Experience and God in America also are made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers.

About WGBH

WGBH/Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting station, producing such award-winning PBS series as American Experience, FRONTLINE, NOVA, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Curious George and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle and children's series. WGBH's television channels include WGBH 2/HD and 44, and digital channels World and Create. Local TV productions that focus on the region's diverse community include Greater Boston, Basic Black and Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One.

WGBH Radio serves listeners from Cape Cod to New Hampshire with WGBH 89.7, Boston's NPR Station for News and Culture; 99.5 All Classical; WCAI for The Cape and Islands; WNCK on Nantucket; and the All-Classical WGBH HD channel. WGBH also produces the national radio news program The World. WGBH is a leading producer of online content and a pioneer in developing educational multimedia and new technologies that make media accessible for people with disabilities. Find more information at www.wgbh.org.

Source: WGBH, American Experience, FRONTLINE

 
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