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A stirring chronicle of the spiritual life of a nation, Prayer in America shows how the faith of Americans—from the founding fathers to corporate tycoons, from composers to social reformers, from generals to slaves—was an essential ingredient in the formation of American culture, character, commerce, and creed.
Prayer in America brings together the country’s hymns, patriotic anthems, arts, and literature as a framework for telling the story of the innermost thoughts of the people who have shaped the United States we know today. Beginning with Native Americans, Prayer in America traces the prayer lives of Quakers and Shakers, Sikhs and Muslims, Catholics and Jews, from their earliest days in the United States through the aftermath of 9/11, and the 2004 presidential election. It probes the approach to prayer by such diverse individuals as Benjamin Franklin, Elvis Presley, Frank Lloyd Wright, J. C. Penney, P. T. Barnum, Jackie Robinson, and Christopher Columbus. It includes every president of the United States as well as America’s clergy, immigrants, industrialists, miners, sports heroes, and scientists.
Prayer in America shows that without prayer, the political, cultural, social, and even economic and military history of the United States would be vastly different from what it is today. It engages in a thoughtful, timely examination of the modern debate over public prayer and how the current approach to prayer bears deep roots in the philosophies of the country’s founding fathers, a subject which remains distinct from the debate over church and state.