God in America, Program 2: A Nation Reborn & A New Light

Dir. Sarah Colt / FRONTLINE & AMERICAN EXPERIENCE / October 2010

God in America explores the tumultuous 400-year relationship between religion and public life in America. The six-hour series tells the story of how religious dissidents helped shape the American concept of religious liberty; how religious freedom fueled the rise of evangelical America; how social reform—from abolition to civil rights—galvanized men and women to put their faith into political action; and how religious faith influenced conflicts from the American Revolution to the Cold War.

Combining documentary narrative, historical analysis and dramatization, the series brings to life the conflicts, the dilemmas and the critical decisions made by the men and women who battled to establish America’s unique relationship between religion and politics.

Episode Three, A Nation Reborn: As slavery split the nation in two, Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders turned to the Bible to support their cause. Struggling to make sense of the war’s carnage and the death of his young son, Abraham Lincoln – who previously had put his faith in reason over revelation – embarked on a spiritual journey that transformed his ideas about God and the ultimate meaning of the war.

Episode Four, A New Light
: Post Civil War America saw the forces of modernity challenge traditional faith. From the rise of Reform Judaism to the 1925 Scopes evolution trial, liberal and conservative believers divided, forever altering the face of religion in America.

Visit the series website at pbs.org/godinamerica.

Watch the full episode.

Watch the full episode.