University of California Sued for Discriminating Against Christian Courses

Some college-prep classes deemed “too religious.”

by Pam Sheppard on September 6, 2005

The Christian textbooks used in several new college-prep courses considered "too religious" to be accepted for college-entrance credit at UC.

For high school seniors, applying for college should be an exciting time-even more so for those with outstanding academic and extracurricular records. For these students, the sky should be the limit when it comes to choice. Sadly, that won't be the case for six high school students whose acceptance to the University of California (UC) system1 has already been decided, even though they haven't even applied.

Unless they choose to take other college-prep classes that use textbooks deemed "acceptable" by UC, these students' applications will most likely be denied. The reason: the Christian textbooks used in several new college-prep courses at their high school were considered "too religious" to be accepted for college-entrance credit at UC.

On August 25, these six students, along with their school, Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, California and the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI),2 filed a federal lawsuit against the University of California where, according to the LA Times (August 27), admissions officials have been accused of discriminating against high schools that teach creationism and other conservative Christian viewpoints.

According to the LA Times article, UC's board of admissions advised the school that it would not approve biology and science courses that relied primarily on textbooks published by Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Book. Some of the school's Christian-oriented courses were "too narrow" to be acceptable, university officials wrote in letters to Calvary Chapel.

Wendell R. Bird, an Atlanta lawyer who is representing the ACSI in the suit summed up the situation in the Inside Higher Ed article (August 29) when he said, "All viewpoints are perfectly acceptable until they are Christian."

Bird goes on to say that the university system approves courses and offers its own courses from Buddhist, Jewish, feminist and other viewpoints. "This is picking one viewpoint and banning it for being Christian."

According to an ACSI Legal Legislative Update (Fall 2005), in a May 2004 meeting between Christian school personnel, UC personnel and attorneys from both sides of the issue, the UC representatives indicated that "there was no problem with the material facts in the BJU physics textbook-that if the Scripture verses that begin each chapter were removed the textbook would likely be approved for the science lab course requirement."

The Update article goes on to say that as the discussion continued about the biology books, "it became evident that they were rejected because they appeared to state the perspective that the Bible is revelation and along with faith is more authoritative than the observations of science, especially if there were a conflict over a 'factual scientific issue.'"

As reported by the Inside Higher Ed, the science courses that have been rejected teach not only creationism or intelligent design, but also teach the "standard content of evolution," even if the teachers do not believe the content.

Other courses rejected by UC officials, according to the LA Times article (August 27), include "Christianity's Influence in American History," "Christianity and Morality in American Literature" and "Special Providence: American Government."

Not surprisingly, professors at the University of California praised the University for requiring applicants to have been taught evolution.

"If you don't understand evolution, you don't understand biology," Albert F. Bennett, chair of ecology and evolutionary biology at the university's Irvine campus said in the Inside Higher Ed article. "If you don't understand biology, you don't understand modern science. A student ill-versed in science is poorly prepared for university-level work."

AiG has pointed out numerous times that a belief in molecules-to-man evolution contributes nothing to a person's understanding of empirical science and plays no essential role in biomedical research or education (for examples, see A Philly Story), as stated by Ph.D. cell biologist and AiG speaker {$ get_urls "19868" alt="Dr. David Menton" %}.

While California may be the only state in the nation that has taken such actions against Christian schools, according to the LA Times, what does this lawsuit say about the future?

"If California, which is more hostile towards Christians than other states, isn't stopped, this kind of discrimination will spread. This is really a foretaste of things to come," said Jonathan McCants, attorney with law firm of Bird & Loechl, who (along with the southern California public interest law firm Advocates for Faith and Freedom) will represent the plaintiffs.

McCants isn't alone in his concern. ACSI is concerned that this secular intolerance might spread to other institutions and to other states saying in the Update that, "It appears to [them] that it is only a matter of time before all schools using these textbooks will find that they no longer meet the requirements for UC course approval."

McCants said that UC has been deliberate in their reach of their policies, noting that at first only new courses were affected, but by 2006, they reserve the right to review all courses.

And when it comes to academic freedom, ACSI representatives were quick to point out the double standard set forth by the university. "Isn't it surprising that, as everyone knows, public university personnel adamantly defend their right to academic freedom-yet these same people seem to be denying equal freedom to California Christian high schools and to those who attend these schools."

"If organizations [such] as ACSI aren't willing to stand up to this kind of discrimination, it will affect everybody," said McCants.

The bias shown by UC has most certainly affected these six students and their families. Answers in Genesis applauds their boldness, along with ACSI, in standing up for the authority of the Word of God.


  1. The University of California (USA) represents 10 university campuses such as UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego.
  2. ACSI represents more than 800 religious schools in the state and 4,000 nationwide.


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