It doesn’t take a degree from Harvard to see that in today’s world, a person needs to know something about religion. The conflicts between the Israelis and the Palestinians; between Christians, Muslims, and animists in Africa; between religious conservatives and progressives at home over abortion and gay marriage—all these relate, if indirectly, to what rival groups believe about God and scripture. Any resolution of these conflicts will have to come from people who understand how religious belief and practice influence our world: why, in particular, believers see some things as worth fighting and dying for. On the Harvard campus—where the next generation of aspiring leaders is currently beginning the spring term—the importance of religion goes without saying. “Kids need to know the difference between a Sunni and a Shia,” is something you hear a lot.