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God Bless America, by Karen Stollznow
God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices
in the United States
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.
Karen Stollznow is a linguist with a background in history and anthropology. She is a columnist, podcaster and the author of Haunting America, Language Myths, Mysteries and Magic, and Red, White and (True) Blue. Karen was a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and has spent many years writing about a diverse array of topics, including language, culture, religion and anomalous claims. Karen was born in Sydney, and has a PhD in linguistics from the University of New England, Australia.
Praise for God Bless America
“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.”
“The chapter on Scientology is fantastic. It is very specifically detailed with a clear breakdown on the belief system, various programs and abuses. This is deadly concise and makes an incredibly clear and compelling case for the utter absurdity of the church.”
—Jamie DeWolf, great-grandson of L. Ron Hubbard.
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