First, I do not want this to get political, but there may be some aspects of what are perceived nowadays as "right vs left or Repub vs Dem" in this post. Please know that is not my intention, but it's just the way it is... The title of my thread was meant to get attention. Not because I think religion is bad, but because we hear that it is from a lot of people. I'm generalizing here, but typically the "Left" thinks Christianity is oppressive, the "Right" thinks Islam is evil, etc..etc. None of that is true. Let me tell you all a little story: I grew up in Pensacola, Florida...L.A. is what we called it, "Lower Alabama". In other words, the Deep South. My family was poor, I attended mostly black schools and lived in mostly black neighborhoods. I have never, not once, stepped inside any church with my parents. Whenever I'm back in town I always call up some of my old high school friends and we go out and have a few beers and catch up. These guys are a little bit of country, rock-n-roll, and rap all mixed together. Some are well off, some are recovering addicts, and some are still struggling, but all are my friends. History class in my schools, especially high school, were very one sided. What I mean by that is, America was and always has been great, slavery was a loooooong time ago so we've gotten better since then, and so forth. I mention slavery specifically, well, because in essence that's what this post is about. I'm a 45 year old white male, married, with 5 kids. I'm comfortable. My friends would say that I "made it". And I agree with them....I have made it. I want for nothing. About 2 months ago I told my wife that I wanted to go back to school and take a few classes at my local University...The University of Iowa. Yes, my wife is an Iowan and dragged me up here to the cold. I wanted to take these classes not because I needed them, but because I wanted to learn something. And man....let me tell you...I have. So, growing up I have always been told, "Lazy people are poor"..."Lazy people want something for nothing"..."Work hard and you'll get yours"..etc. Yes, some of that is true. But man-o-man...a lot of that is wrong. A class I just finished, "Judaeo-Christian History", has been one of the most enlightening classes I have ever taken. Why? Well, not because it's brought me closer to God, I am already close, that's another thread, but because religion, more specifically a religion class, made me a better human being. How? Well, I was assigned a book to read. The Prof. assigned a few dozen books to the class and we had to, basically, do a book report. Part of that report needed to have a biography of the author. My book was called "The Very Good Gospel" by Lisa Sharon Harper. The book was good, but I learned far more when I researched Ms. Harper. Ms. Harper, who is around my age, was raised in a good home. "Middle class" as she called it, but there was a catch. Her grandmother was raised by a slave. Wait! What!? A women my age...her grandmother was raised by a slave? Nope...couldn't be. No way. My grandmother just passed away one month ago! Slavery was a looooooooong time ago. My history teacher told me so....But no...it's true. A person who I could have gone to high school with, my same age, had a grandmother who was raised by a slave!! When you're a child and hear "great" you think ancient....Nope...Not ancient... My point? A religion class flicked on a light bulb for me. Literally, 2 months ago if someone asked me my opinion on, say, reparations, I would have been against it. I would have been under the mindset that people are trying to get something for nothing. Well, that's just not true. Slavery, and I always knew it was the worst of humankind, was not only bad...but recent. This reality shocked me. Slavery is a VERY recent thing and religion shined a light on it for me. How difficult it must be, to be a generation or two removed from slavery? And it's not like once slavery ended black people had paradise. They fought for the next 100 years to be treated as equals. Which means that my friends, African American friends, were all raised by people still fighting to be recognized as human beings. Unbelievable...Not only their plight, but me taking so long to see this. And if not for religion, I would still be blind.