/ August 17, 2008

California Schools win Religious Course Credit Dispute

Last week, California Federal District Judge James Otero ruled in favor of the University of California in a hotly debated suit over the school’s policy on granting credit for certain courses in Christian high schools. Several religious schools, as well as individual students, allege that the public university is guilty of discrimination for its refusal to accept credit for certain science and history classes with Christian overtones. Judge Otero, however, found that the University’s policy exhibits no opposition to religion, but only denies credit for classes which omit necessary subjects or that fail to foster critical thinking.

Charles Robinson of the University of California defends the institution’s practices, stating that the plaintiffs demands amount to a “religious exemption from regular admissions standards.” Even so, those who attend religious schools without sufficient instruction still have the opportunity to earn credit through assessment tests. The plaintiffs, however, assert that the schools refuse to honor courses that include “any instance of God’s guidance of history, or any alternative … to evolution.”

Otero disagreed, citing several University-approved textbooks with religious themes as well as its approval of biology classes that include both creationism and evolution. Moreover, UC accepts credit for classes that use unapproved religious texts for supplemental reading, as long as the courses cover the essential topics. Otero also sided with a number of the University’s rejections, including classes that relied on textbooks published by Bob Jones University, in which science or history are secondary to Christianity and the word of the Bible.

The plaintiff’s have appealed Otero’s dismissal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

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