I was the Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. This was while being a professor of economics and NDSU. Later I became active in the Red River Freethinkers. While I no longer live in Fargo-Moorhead the focus of my blog remains there.


Religious Studies and American Indians, Blacks and Asians


The interplay between ethnic studies and studies of the religions of various ethnic groups is changing every year. The former model was to separate religious studies from studies of ethnic groups. As I have pointed out here repeatedly, religions come from cultures, not visa versa.
The religions of native Americans was much different from Christianity. I have read that when they were forcefully converted the version of Christianity they latched onto was altered to fit better the remaining religious beliefs held previously.
The same is true for slaves from Africa who were converted to Christianity by the white people who owned them. Since the 1960's fields of African religion have developed in Departments of Religion and Black Culture have developed in Departments of Anthropology. Finally, scholars in the two departments are combining their knowledge and developing explanations of the black experience in religion and culture together. The same thing is happening between the disciplines for native Americans.
The teaching of all comparative religion needs to begin with the cultures where these religions first came into being. Christianity itself grew out of Roman rule and it close association with Paganism. When people disliked Roman rule it was only logical they disliked the Roman's religion.
As Christianity spread, it encountered cultures that were new. The cultures modified the religions message to fit the narrative that preceded the religion. That is why we have Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists and all the rest.

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