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It is important to teach about religions

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Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 10:00 pm

Thank you for your recent articles on the new imam at the Lodi mosque and the official opening of the Sikh temple.

The hateful e-mails in the News-Sentinel on Nov. 19 clearly show that some people need to be educated on these subjects. Thank you for doing your part to accomplish that.

As a history teacher, I would also like to respond to the concerns some parents have about the subject of Islam being taught in the seventh-grade history book.

The state of California mandates that world history be taught in sixth and seventh grades. During the course of sixth and seventh grades, students learn about Christianity (both Catholicism and Protestantism), Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Shintoism and many other religions, including the ancient religions of the Inca, Maya and Aztec peoples.

It is simply not possible to teach history effectively without understanding the many impacts of religion. Many wars have been waged for religious reasons. Many people have fled their homelands in search of religious freedom or to escape religious persecution. Governments have been established in the name of religion; other governments have been overthrown for religious reasons.

Given the fact that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world, and given world events, it is in the best interest of all of us to better understand each other. Like Christianity, Islam is a religion that teaches brotherhood and charity (The writer who called the Sikh temple a Muslim compound might be surprised to know that Islam is more closely related to Christianity than it is to Sikhism). Those committing acts of violence in the name of Islam do not represent Islam any more than the Ku Klux Klan represents Christianity.

With people writing in who believe that Native Americans were not the first people here, who do not know the difference between Muslims and Sikhs, and who deny that we all have ancestors who were immigrants, it would seem that education is our only hope. Please continue to publish articles that help to enlighten us all.

Kristine Leach


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