Wednesday, August 13, 2008

CA Judge: Univ. Discrimination Against Christians OK

Christian high school plans to appeal textbook disqualification decision to the Ninth Circuit Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.

-- From "Murrieta Christian school loses case against UC" by Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer 8/13/08

The University of California did not violate students' freedom of expression and religion when it rejected some classes at a Riverside-area Christian school from counting toward UC admission, a Los Angeles federal judge has ruled.

In a case that has attracted significant attention in religious and academic circles nationwide since it was filed in 2005, the judge upheld the university's decision to disqualify several classes offered by Calvary Chapel Christian School of Murrieta for being too narrow or not academically rigorous enough to fulfill UC's entrance requirements.

In a final ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero said UC demonstrated a rational basis for rejecting Calvary Christian's English, history, government and religion courses and did not display any "animus" toward the school or its Christian doctrines.

The decision will be appealed, said attorney Robert Tyler, who represents Calvary Christian, its student plaintiffs and a group of 4,000 Christian schools nationwide. Tyler said Tuesday that he was disappointed by Otero's ruling but was confident a higher court would find that UC violated the law by rejecting the classes for their religious content. The attorney also said the district judge had applied overly restrictive standards to the bias allegations.

"This case is about the future of private religious education and the right to be able to have your kids learn from a religious perspective," said Tyler, who is general counsel for a religious liberty law firm in Murrieta named Advocates for Faith and Freedom.

The case could influence admission practices at public colleges nationwide, said David Masci, a senior research fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington, D.C. "No one is questioning the right of Calvary Chapel to teach what they want to teach. But what the case says is that when you do that, there may be consequences," Masci said Tuesday.

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