Friday, May 4, 2007

The University of California vs. Academic & Religious Freedom

The Association of Christian Schools International, a group representing private Christian schools serving over 1 million students, has filed a lawsuit against of the University of California charging religious discrimination. In California, students wishing to apply for admission to the UC system must complete UC-approved courses in history and social science; English; mathematics; lab science; foreign language; visual & performing arts; and electives such as psychology, economics, journalism, computer science, speech & debate, etc.

First of all- doesn't the University of California have more important things to worry about than micromanaging the curriculum of California's high schools????? Such as oh, I don't know, providing a quality education to the 209,000 students currently enrolled?

In filing its lawsuit, the ACSI stated: "defendants routinely approve courses which add viewpoints such as non-Christian religion, feminism, an ethnic preference, a political viewpoint, or multiculturalism, or that focus on religions such as Buddhism or Judaism, (and plaintiffs believe they should evenhandedly approve such courses), but disapprove courses which add viewpoints based on conservative Christianity."

For example, while UC has approved courses in the history of India, Mexican history, Irish history, Jewish history, "Feminist Issues Throughout U.S. History"and even "The Environmental History of Europe", it rejected "Christianity's Influence on American History" as "too narrow/too specialized". “Christianity and Morality in American Literature” was rejected but "Gender Roles in Literature," "Feminine Perspectives in Literature," "Literature from the 60's Movement" and "Gender, Sexuality, and Identity in Literature", and even "Industrial Poetry" all were approved.

A physics textbook published by Bob Jones University was rejected not because UC found its scientific content problematic but simply due to its Christian viewpoint. UC officials confirmed "that if the Scripture verses that begin each chapter were removed the textbook would likely be approved."

According to Burt Carney of the ACSI, "It's egregious how they are treating Christian schools in California. They are basically saying that any textbooks that include overt Christian content or themes, they're going to reject it automatically."

This is clearly religious discrimination, and I hope that ACSI is successful in its legal challenge to the UC system. I may not agree with the views promoted in these textbooks and courses, but I absolutely support the right of a private school to decide what will be taught there. If I disagree with what the school teaches, I simply won't enroll my child!

As ACSI has stated, the lawsuit is about "defending the right of Christian schools to have the religious and academic freedom to choose their courses, curriculum, and teaching methods and to allow equal opportunity for graduates of these schools to gain admission to the college or university of their choice."

Regardless of whether one agrees with the religious beliefs taught in ACSI schools, it's an infringement upon the First Amendment for UC to disapprove their courses simply because of those beliefs.

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