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Lower Manhattan: Birthplace of religious freedom

One of the nice things about having Jon Meacham as a host of Need to Know is that he knows history — really, really knows history. This comes in handy when we want to reach past the heat and noise of a controversy in the news, and get some perspective.

This week, there was loud and sometimes overwrought discourse about the proposed cultural center and mosque near the site of the World Trade Center attacks.  Strong opinions were everywhere, from politicians, pundits, and religious leaders. As for the families of the 9/11 victims, they’re divided about it.

So we turn to Mr. Meacham, who reminds us that the struggle over religious freedom has quite a long history in Manhattan — one that’s older than the nation itself.

For more on the furor over the $100 million project, and President Obama’s remarks on the controversy at a White House dinner last week, see Need to Know’s previous online coverage.

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