This is the history of the relationship between mass produced visual media and religion in the United States. It is a journey from the 1780s to the present - from early evangelical tracts to teenage witches and televangelists, and from illustrated books to contemporary cinema.
David Morgan explores the cultural marketplace of public representation, showing how American religionists have made special use of visual media to instruct the public, to practice devotion and ritual, and to form children and converts. Examples include:
- studying Jesus as an American idol
- Jewish kitchens and Christian Parlors
- Billy Sunday and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Uncle Tom's Cabin and the anti-slavery movement.
This unique perspective reveals the importance of visual media to the construction and practice of sectarian and national community in a nation of immigrants old and new, and the tensions between the assimilation and the preservation of ethnic and racial identities. As well as the contribution of visual media to the religious life of Christians and Jews, Morgan shows how images have informed the perceptions and practices of other religions in America, including New Age, Buddhist and Hindu spirituality, and Mormonism, Native American Religions and the Occult.