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John Acosta and 'Last Temptation'

August 28, 1988

As a 10-year resident of Santa Ana, I'm appalled that we have a city councilman as bigoted and narrow-minded as John Acosta.

In The Times report on the protest against the showing of "The Last Temptation of Christ" at MainPlace (Aug. 20), Acosta was quoted as equating the film with pornography, claiming that the First Amendment does not apply to this film, blaming our city's problems on a low state of morality created by "atheists and near-atheists," and threatening to propose a City Council resolution condemning the picture.

Contrary to what Acosta may think, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees both freedom of speech and religion. I find it frightening that Acosta plans to legislate his view of morality and foist it upon the rest of us. Even within Christianity, there is a great deal of disagreement as to how the Bible should be interpreted. Catholics, Episcopalians, Baptists, Presbyterians, Protestants and others all have fundamental differences.

Is Acosta so insecure in his religious beliefs that he must pass laws requiring others to believe them too? And if he succeeds, what prevents some future City Council majority from banning his beliefs?

Blaming Santa Ana's problems on those who do not share Acosta's religious beliefs is inexcusable. Many atrocities have been committed throughout history in the name of Christianity. And there are many good people in our community who don't find it necessary to worship Acosta's God to be outstanding residents of Santa Ana. Does he consider followers of Mohammed, Buddha or Vishnu to be morally bereft? To be unfit to live in his community?

If Acosta attempts to introduce this resolution, I for one will rise to speak in opposition. I hope that my fellow Santa Ana residents--including Christians, atheists and near-atheists -- will join me.

STEPHEN C. SMITH

Santa Ana

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