Re "The Fourth R" by Mary Rourke (Feb. 10):
When I was a high school senior, our local newspaper in Detroit ran a daily column in which representatives of each religious denomination in our area gave brief descriptions of what they felt were the important characteristics of their faiths. We read aloud the day's column in our world history class, and if any student present was a member of that faith, he or she could elaborate on the column. I found this absolutely fascinating. I had not been raised in a religious household, and I was astounded by the variety of beliefs, especially of Protestant Christianity.
Thirty-five years later, I am still intellectually stimulated and spiritually fed by the faiths of humankind in all their beautiful multiplicity.
There are only two things we need to teach children in school about religion: (1) America is the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth because of our tradition of tolerance. Particularly our tolerance of science, industry, commerce, research and exploration. And (2) whenever religion is allowed to dominate a country's politics (i.e., Iran, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland), freedom of religion disappears. All theocracies degenerate into tyranny and terrorism.
ROBERT L. NEWTON