Why is US obsessed with ‘God bless America’?

December 16th, 2008 - 10:34 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaToronto, Dec 16 (IANS) Why are Americans obsessed with the words “God bless America”? A new Canadian documentary looks at the American fascination with invoking god.The six-part documentary by award-winning Canadian journalist Ralph Benmergui probes why and when faith became such an important part in the life of that country.

It probes: When did it become obligatory for presidents to end every speech with the words “God bless America”? Why do so many Americans believe that their country enjoys the lord’s special favour?

“God Bless America”, to be aired on Canada’s VisionTV, premieres Jan 19 - just a day before the new US president Barack Obama takes oath of office.

The documentary looks at how although the American constitution separates the church and state, this dividing line is often hard to find in practice.

It shows how the 50 million-strong Evangelical Christian movement has exercised enormous influence on US politics in recent years of Republican victories, said a VisionTV statement.

The documentary also looks at the possibility that the Evangelical movement may decline with the ascension of Obama.

As part of his investigation, Benmergui travelled across the US - from the Virginia campus of America’s most important Evangelical university to the streets of Denver during the Democratic National convention - to meet the men and women who are at the heart of the religious debate within American political life.

After meeting punk rock evangelists and Muslim hip-hoppers to radical atheists and born-again teenagers on his journey, the documentary maker finds that the relationship between church and state in the US is even more complex than people imagine.

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