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Creating a Controversy: Biology Teacher's Biblical Presentation at School

May 26, 1991

As both a teacher and a trained historian, I feel that it is necessary to comment briefly on the article "Mission Viejo Drawn Into Teacher's Religious Fight" (May 16).

Mr. Peloza and his supporters are no doubt sincere in their good intentions, but I fail to comprehend why they and other Christian fundamentalists believe that their religion belongs in the classroom in utter disregard for the sensibilities and religious beliefs of students who are of other faiths.

No doubt Mr. Peloza would be rather perturbed if his two young daughters were given copies of the Koran or the Torah in school and informed that these or some other religion's sacred Scriptures condemned them to hell for being Christian.

By the same token, I would like to mention that not all Christians interpret the Bible in such a manner as to construe that non-Christians are automatically condemned to eternal damnation.

Finally, as a historian, I would like to add that Mr. Peloza and his supporters would benefit from some time in a history class. The United States was not founded on Christian principles. Yes, the Pilgrims and Puritans were Christians, but they founded a colony, not a country. The United States was founded by 18th-Century Enlightenment thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

Some of the signers of the Constitution were Christians, of many different types, and some were deists or agnostics. Their divergent and tolerant religious beliefs were the source for the separation of church and state that is built into the American system of government.

Thus, those of us who wish to see that separation preserved are not being unpatriotic or un-American. We are upholding the time-honored beliefs of the true founding fathers.

GAYLE K. BRUNELLE, Assistant professor of history, Cal State Fullerton

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