Christian Schools Lose Bid To Force Universities To Accredit Sectarian Courses

A group of Christian fundamentalist secondary schools in California has failed in its legal battle to force public universities to grant credit for academically questionable courses.

The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, declined the case last month. The court’s inaction leaves in place a federal appellate decision against the religious schools.

Institutions of higher education in the University of California system require that students take certain high school courses to be admitted. Officials in the system said some of the courses offered by the Christian schools – covering history, English and science – did not measure up and refused to recognize them.

The Christian schools sued, claiming discrimination. In court, lawyers for the Christian academies insisted that they offer “standard course content” but add “a religious viewpoint in each subject,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

But education experts who took part in the case noted that the Christian schools’ content was far from “standard.” Biology was taught from the perspective of biblical literalism, and one history book advised students that the Bible is the “unerring source for analysis” of the past.

In English classes, students often did not read novels or plays but relied on an anthology of “Christian classics” that reflected fundamentalist dogma.

Officials of the university system believed these courses would leave students ill-prepared for college and refused to recognize them. A federal district court agreed and ruled against the Christian schools in 2008. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that ruling in January.

The appeals court noted that the university system had approved high school courses taught by other religious schools in the state and thus there was no discrimination against religion. The classes taught at the other religious schools, the court said, “met academic standards.”

Officials of the University of California system said they welcome the Association of Christian Schools International v. Stearns ruling.