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US judge says University can ignore Christian course credits

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A federal judge has told the University of California that when considering applicants, it has the constitutional right to ignore high school course work grounded in the notion that the Bible is infallible.

On Friday, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Judge James Otero denied claims from a group of Christian high schools and Christian high school students that the 10-campus University had suppressed free speech and discriminated against religious views in rejecting such course credits.

In a 20-page ruling (pdf) Judge Otero, of the Central District of California, says that UC could reject credits as long as it wasn't acting out of "animus" and it had "a rational basis" for those rejections. And he's quite sure the University met both criteria.

One high school course was rejected because its primary text, the Bob Jones University-published United States History for Christian Schools, "failed to adequately teach critical thinking and modern historical analytic methods."

According to one professor on the UC course review committee, 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."

In 2005, the Calvary Chapel Christian School of Murrieta, California, five Calvary students, and the Association of Christian Schools International sued UC over its rejection of this Bob Jones-fueled course and other credits. This March, Judge Otero ruled that the University had not exhibited an anti-religious bias in approving high school credits, and with last week's decision, he dismissed the suit outright.

The plaintiffs have already appealed. "It appears the UC is attempting to secularize private religious schools," said their attorney, Jennifer Monk of Advocates for Faith and Freedom. ®

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