The First Amendment protection of religious freedom is designed not just to protect the religious traditions that the majority of us like or feel comfortable with. It is meant to protect religious traditions that the majority may find strange or objectionable.
The first time I taught an introductory
world religions class, one of the students was a quiet Afghan named
Mohammed. When it came time for oral presentations, Mohammed talked
about Jesus. As a devout Muslim, he knew a lot about his subject.
Amateurish historians often tell us that we must study the past to avoid repeating its mistakes. Such efforts rarely work out well. Laurie Maffly-Kipp, by contrast, offers an unusual, complex and thoughtful approach to history.
Cotton was king in the 19th century, and the industry was dependent upon slavery. It wasn’t only southern plantation owners who reaped its benefits. Northerners and Europeans created a worldwide textile industry on the backs of slave labor, and they lent money to plantation owners to buy more slaves. We are still living with the legacy of that slavery, says Edward E. Baptist, author of the recently released The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. Part of the legacy is that white households have almost $15 worth of wealth for every dollar held by African-American households (CNN, September 7).