Since 2005, the University of California has had to deal with a lawsuit filed by a number of Christian high schools and students. The Christians claimed that the university was “developing and implementing an admissions process that allegedly violates the Free Speech Clause, the Free Exercise Clause, the Establishment Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause.” They said the university would not accept several (required) courses for admission because they came from a Christian school system.
That sounds pretty bad… until you hear what the university system was actually doing.
The university said that “some of [the Christian schools’] courses failed to meet its academic requirements for college applicants.” For example, if your high school’s Biology textbook rejects evolution and embraces Creationism or you’re taught the Bible is infallible — you simply won’t learn the basic facts or critical thinking skills needed to succeed in a college environment.
The Biology textbook used in the Christian schools had this in the introduction:
Biology for Christian Schools is a textbook for Bible-believing high-school students. Those who do not believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God will find many points in this book puzzling. This book was not written for them.
The people who prepared this book have tried consistently to put the Word of God first and science second…If…at any point God’s Word is not put first, the authors apologize.
The same encyclopedia article may state that the grasshopper evolved 300 million years ago. You may find a description of some insect that the grasshopper supposedly evolved from and a description of the insects that scientists say evolved from the grasshopper. You may even find a “scientific” explanation of the biblical locust (grasshopper) plague in Egypt. These statements are conclusions based on “supposed science.” If the conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them.
The Christian schools are shocked that the University of California would say this class did not fulfill a particular science requirement…
Another class rejected by the university was a history course: “Christianity’s Influence on America.” According to UC’s Professor James Given (PDF):
[The text] instructs that the Bible is the unerring source for analysis of historical events, attributes historical events to divine providence rather than analyzing human action, evaluates historical figures and their contributions based on their religious motivations or lack thereof and contains inadequate treatment of several major ethnic groups, women, and non-Christian religious groups.
Another History expert, Professor Gary Nash, added:
“From reading the [reviewed text], students will have little opportunity to exercise independent judgment, to sharpen their critical thinking skills, or to consider multiple perspectives of those who made our history.”
So, what’s going on with this case now?
In the latest ruling (PDF), Judge S. James Otero sided with the university:
[Judge Otero] rejected a number of the plaintiffs’ motions on procedural grounds, then evaluated the schools’ and the university’s arguments regarding decisions on five courses, in biology, English, government, history, and world religions. In each case, the judge found that the university’s decisions had been based on rational considerations and had showed no animus toward the plaintiffs.
The university is not discriminating against Christians. It’s rightfully saying that high school courses built around ignorance are not suitable requirements for college admission.
The Christian schools have filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Incidentally, that’s the same federal court which said in 2002 that “Under God” did not belong in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Things aren’t looking good for the fundamentalists…