Marquette Warrior: University of California Discriminates Against Christian Schools in Admissions

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

University of California Discriminates Against Christian Schools in Admissions

Yet another of a burgeoning number of cases in which Christians and Christian viewpoints are being discriminated against in higher education.
(AgapePress) - A federal judge has rejected the University of California’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses it of viewpoint discrimination against Christian students. Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta filed suit last summer against the UC system, claiming it prohibits high school students from receiving academic credit for courses taught from a Christian perspective.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California, after six Calvary Chapel Christian School students claimed their religious views had hurt their chances of being accepted to a UC campus. Joining Calvary as a co-plaintiff is the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents 800 religious schools nationwide.

The claimants’ lawsuit accuses the UC system of violating Christian students’ rights by rejecting private Christian school courses such as Calvary’s “Christianity’s Influence on American History” and “Christianity and Morality in American Literature” as too narrow, meanwhile giving credit for other schools’ curriculum offerings, including courses like “Jewish History” and “Ethnic Experience in Literature.”

The lawsuit challenges a UC admissions requirement that private schools maintain a core of state-approved courses and asks the court to order the university system to recognize the Christian-themed courses. And, although the UC Regents have argued that the university can set its own standards under the First Amendment, Judge James Otero ruled last week that the school’s attorneys alleged sufficient facts to allow all of its federal constitutional claims to go forward.
The notion that the University of California can “set its own standards” sound fair enough -- so long as the “standards” don’t involve discrimination against a particular relgion. Unfortunately these “standards” do.
Bob Tyler, an attorney representing Calvary Chapel, says colleges and universities should not punish Christian students simply because of viewpoints expressed within their schools’ curricula. “This case really is about the future,” he asserts; it’s “about preventing the UC school system from continuing in a pattern of discrimination that will ultimately be applied against all Christian schools.”

Tyler describes the judge’s decision to allow the lawsuit to proceed “a great initial victory” in a case with broad implications for schools across the U.S. that offer courses taught from a faith-based point of view. He believes UC rejected Calvary’s courses not because they lacked sufficient academic content, but because the university officials did not like the viewpoints from which the courses were taught.

“It’s quite possible and likely,” the students’ attorney contends, “that if we don’t win this lawsuit, our school and every other Christian school that teaches from a Christian perspective in the future will have difficulties in having a sufficient number of college prep courses that will be pre-approved for credit into the UC school system.”

According to a report in Riverside, California’s Press-Enterprise, Judge Otero wrote in his decision that, if the UC system did in fact refuse to give credit to Calvary’s courses based solely on their religious viewpoints, “such action would run afoul of the limits of the defendants’ freedom to determine its admission policies.” The judge also noted that the UC Regents’ assertion of the university’s constitutional right to set its admissions standards does not shield it from “the prohibition of engaging in content-based regulation or viewpoint discrimination.”
Here is a news article on this issue and here is another.

An article in a San Diago paper adds another dimension to this.
The suit, filed last August, alleges the university system sent a form letter to Christian high schools, informing them that two popular Christian biology textbooks are “not consistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community.”

“As such, students who take these courses may not be prepared for success if/when they enter science courses/programs at UC,” the letter states.
These particular science courses taught a “creationist” or “intelligent design” perspective, as well as teaching evolution.

In short, the didn’t conform to the orthodoxy in college biology departments.

While outlawing “Christianity’s Influence on American History” and “Christianity and Morality in American Literature” is clearly an outrage, refusal to accept courses that give credence to the heretical notion of intelligent design might seem to be a bit more reasonable. After all, students are allowed to substitute these courses for orthodox college biology courses, so shouldn’t high school instruction reflect the orthodoxy?

No, not necessarily.

In the first place, unless Advanced Placement works differently in California than elsewhere in the country, these students have passed the College Board Advanced Placement exam. According to the exam, they know enough biology to get college credit.

In the second place, the University of California appears to have no trouble with high school Economics taught from a Marxist perspective. It would not raise an eyebrow about an American History course taught by a conspiracy theorist who believes the Kennedy assassination was a government plot, that Bush and Cheney planned the 9/11 attacks and that Roosevelt knew about the forthcoming attack on Pearl Harbor and let it happen to get America into World War II.

It would have no trouble with an “Afrocentric” World History curriculum that taught that black Africans actually invented “Western Civilization” and had it stolen from them by the Greeks.

In short, any sort of crackpot course is OK, just as long as it’s not taught from a Christian perspective.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next time, research both sides before writing an article. Although well written, it was too one-sided, an analysis of both sides and then the inclusion of a personal judgement would have been much more appropriate.

12:16 PM  

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