Thoughts on the PBS documentary, “God In America”

I just watched the first three hours of the PBS special, “God in America.” The series documents the role religion played in the creation of the United States of America and will undoubtedly explore religion’s impact on the current American consciousness.

I was awed by the fervor of the Puritans. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for Thomas Jefferson for pushing the need for religious freedom as part of the American experiment. I was caught up in the idea of America being “the city on a hill” as presented by Protestant America in the late 1700′s and early 1800′s. I cheered the Catholic Priest who challenged the public school system for being bigoted against Catholics in New York. I feel religious freedom was, is and will be necessary for democracy to survive. When I feel patriotic zeal towards America, “The land of the free” as our national anthem says, a good portion of that love centers on my ability to practice my religion how, where and what I may.

As I watched the documentary I patiently waited for the religious timeline to approach 1820. I couldn’t imagine how a documentary named “God in America” could skip a true American original like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or an American prophet, Joseph Smith.

As we neared 1820, the show clearly portrayed the religious fervor that was afoot in America at the time Joseph Smith was alive and young in New York state. And yet, my patience was only rewarded in a one line reference to Joseph Smith being just another pastor preaching for converts amongst a Methodist conversion explosion. From what I read online about the next three-hour segment, the documentary will not cover the Latter-day Saint exodus and settling of the western United States, which to me is unbelievable.

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