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God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States

by Karen Stollznow

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God Bless America lifts the veil on strange and unusual religious beliefs and practices in the modern-day United States. Do Satanists really sacrifice babies? Do exorcisms involve swearing and spinning heads? Are the Amish allowed to drive cars and use computers? Offering a close look at snake handling, new age spirituality, Santeria spells, and satanic rituals, this book offers more than mere armchair research. It takes you to an exorcism, a Charismatic church and a Fundamentalist Mormon polygamist compound. You will sit among the beards and bonnets in a Mennonite church, hear the sounds of silence at a Quaker meeting, and listen to L. Ron Hubbard's sci-fi stories told as sermons during a Scientology service. From the Amish to Voodoo, the beliefs and practices explored in this book may be unorthodox, and often dangerous, but they are always fascinating. Some of them are dying out, while others are gaining popularity with a modern audience, but all offer insight into the past, present and future of religion in the United States.

America was founded in a religious tolerance which was later enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution. This set up a breeding ground for a motley riffraff of cults and weird beliefs. Karen Stollznow ventured intrepidly into this "Here be Dragons" territory and her book parades specimens and trophies for our amazement, described with lively good humour and analysed with a sympathetic intelligence. One of the commonest questions I am asked is what makes America so religious. Karen Stollznow's book will become an essential resource for answering it.  -Richard Dawkins

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