I was excited and pleased to read your article (“City schools ahead of curve on religions,” Page B1) concerning Modesto City Schools offering a religions course in high school. Presenting an unbiased exposure to religious and spiritual practices in the world and our great Central Valley is a positive contribution toward understanding, dispelling myths and supporting integration rather than conflict.
I am an adjunct professor at the Modesto Campus of Humphreys College. The college is a private not-for-profit college founded over 100 years ago. The main campus is in Stockton; however, our Modesto Campus has been expanding over the past decade. I present courses in liberal studies, criminal justice and legal studies; Humphreys is fully accredited and we are proud of our graduates.
I have been presenting “Great Religions of the World.” Our course was established many years ago by our Professor Emeritus Rowena Walker. I take the students to as many religious houses in the Valley as possible during a quarter; we visit our local synagogue, Sikh temple, Christian churches (of various denominations), mosque, Hindu temple, Buddhist temple, non-denominational churches, Middle Eastern faiths and additionally bring into the classroom presenters of alternative faiths and spiritual practices, including Wicca and Native American believers.
Well deserved recognition to Modesto City Schools and our elected state representatives for supporting human understanding, tolerance and genuine peaceful understanding and coexistence.
Raymond D. Harter, Humphreys College, Modesto
Understanding truly starts at home
Re “City schools ahead of curve on religions” (Page B1, Sept. 15): Wow, it was a great Monday morning edition touting the wonderful aspects of living in Modesto, i.e. architectural tour, Assyrian festival, school curriculum of religious inclusion.
Only as I wandered deeper in the article did I pick up the disturbing quotation from our own school board member Steve Grenbeaux in referring to his daughter’s upbringing “raised in a Christian home so divergent religious thought was new to her.”
Question: Should not our school board members ascribe to these beliefs in their own homes? Perhaps this quotation was taken out of context, but in my own experience, being raised as a Christian does not disqualify learning about and respecting other religions.
This was a relevant article and especially important with the current atrocities being done in the name of religion. I hope the leaders of our school board would be helping to lead the effort of tolerance, understanding and education. Perhaps some of the members are further down the learning curve than Grenbeaux.
Kathy Sheldon, Modesto
Religion course makes reader proud
Since moving to the area 30-some years ago, I have, on occasion, joined in with “Modesto bashing.” The increase in crime, poor air quality, fog, provincial mindset, all lent credence to my discord. I discovered, however, that I could raise the best tomatoes, watch wildlife along the river, and I have met some genuine, good friends.
Last week a story appeared that gave me hope and pride in our locale. For more than a decade, Modesto City Schools have required all students to complete a course in comparative religion. This is not, as I understand it, to preach or convert, but to educate and explain the myriad of different beliefs. What a concept! To foster religious tolerance through education, and, by extension, racial and ethnic tolerance, is innovative and positive.
I realize I am late to the game in saluting the administrators, educators and students who have guided this endeavor for so long, but I have to express my admiration. The story mentioned this project may go statewide, using Modesto’s model as the template. I am proud.
S.S. Baker, Oakdale