Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Article on UC lawsuit

The Economist has an article on the UC lawsuit available on their website. They tie tha suit together with Dover and Cupertino:

So far the UC case has had less publicity than the argument about whether high schools can teach “intelligent design” as an alternative to evolution (currently being fought out in a courtroom in Pennsylvania) or even a ferocious dispute up in Cupertino, where a history teacher claims he was restrained from teaching about Christianity’s role in American history (parents had complained that he was acting more like an evangelical preacher). In fact, all these arguments are part of the same battleground, which pits an increasingly self-confident evangelical America against a secular education establishment.

The ACSI, which represents almost 4,000 Christian high schools in America, including some 800 in California, worries that if the Christians’ challenge fails, UC’s intolerance might spread to other institutions and other states. Moreover, says a lawyer for the plaintiffs, victory would be “a major blow to the arrogance of the ivory towers and their attempt to say that kids from Christian schools can’t be well prepared for university.”

But of course, the UC doesn’t say any such thing. The UC admits thousands and thousands of students from Christian schools every year, including schools which offer the few classes that they are no longer accepting credit for in admissions. Just like the Cupertino case, the plaintiffs’ attorneys are relying on distorting and exaggerating the actions of the defendants in order to make their argument sound more reasonable than it is. And the article makes that point as well:

UC denies it practices secular intolerance and “viewpoint discrimination”. It notes that it has approved plenty of courses at Christian schools and in the past four years has accepted 24 of the 32 applicants from the Murrieta school. And it says that if the courses had used these textbooks “as supplementary, rather than primary, texts, it is likely they would have been approved.”

Which simply leads to a new distortion from the plaintiffs, this time the false argument that the case involves freedom of thought:

What is really being challenged, says the university, is its right to set its own academic standards and admission requirements. In which case the question is what that right implies. The Christian plaintiffs say they have no objection to science students, for example, being taught conventional wisdom, but “their constitutional rights are abridged or discriminated against when they are told that the current interpretation of scientific method must be taught dogmatically, and must be accepted by students, to be eligible for admission to University of California institutions.” In other words, what the case involves is not so much the now-familiar tussle over intelligent design, but a student’s freedom of speech and thought.

All of which, counters the university, is bogus. As long as they satisfy the A-G requirements, students who are headed into the UC system can believe whatever they choose to and take whatever additional courses–including religious ones–they like.

If there is one thing that a regular reader of my blog should be convinced of by now, it is that they should take any legal complaints from the religious right with a very large grain of salt and go look up the actual facts of the case before accepting them. So often, their claim is based on an obvious distortion of the facts. When the ADF declared that the Declaration of Independence had been “banned from classrooms” in Cupertino, they were distorting the truth – i.e. lying – in order to make their case sound more reasonable. And it’s happening again in this case.


  1. #1 spyder
    December 20, 2005

    It is striking how many of the people who use the argument for freedom of thought make sure that their own children are not given that same freedom. The serpent dragon keeps eating its tail, when we have these same folks demanding that others not exercise their freedom of speech and thought when they offer greetings according to the season.

  2. #2 KeithB
    December 20, 2005

    Can the UC folks use the decision from Dover?

  3. #3 Kenneth Fair
    December 20, 2005

    Yes, although it’s persuasive authority only.

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