June 29, 2017
Religion has played an outsized role in U.S. history and politics, but it's one that has often gone unrecognized in U.S. museums. "As a focused subject area, it's been neglected," says Peter Manseau, a scholar and writer installed last year as the first full-time religion curator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. America's exceptional commitment to religious freedom stems from the diversity of its faith traditions. The rebellious attitudes prevalent in frontier settlements fostered the growth of evangelical movements. African slaves introduced Islam to America. The drive to abolish slavery was led largely by Christian preachers.
"We can't tell the story of America without telling the story of religion," Manseau says, "and we can't answer questions about the importance of religion today without going back to earlier generations."Source: To Understand How Religion Shapes America, Look To Its Early Days : NPR