Christian Schools Sue UC Over Admissions
A lawsuit was filed this summer alleging discrimination by the University of California against Christian private schools and their coursework, which the UC deemed inadequate preparation for college.
The federal lawsuit was filed by Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta and the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents over 800 schools in California and over 4,000 nationwide. The groups assert that the UC’s rejection of Christian based courses for college entrance credit is an infringement on students’ freedom of religion and association.
According to the complaint, students from Calvary Chapel are unable to apply to UC schools because their English, government and history courses do not fulfill university requirements.
Several of the courses offered at these schools are taught from a Christian perspective. Many textbooks used at Calvary Chapel are published by Christian publishers such as Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Book.
Jonathan McCants, an attorney from the law firm Bird and Loechl and a representative of Calvary Chapel and ACSI, said that the UC is discriminating against students based on their religious affiliation and is failing to consider their academic accomplishments.
‘The most important point of the lawsuit is that that the UC is violating the First Amendment by singling out [the conservative Christian viewpoint] and refusing to approve courses that are taught from this viewpoint,’ McCants said. ‘[The UC is disregarding] how well-prepared the students are as a result of the courses. Yet, other viewpoints are taught elsewhere, and those courses are routinely approved, [such as] Jewish or Buddhist, Raza studies, feminist or environmentalist perspectives.’
Ravi Poorsina, a UC spokeswoman, declined to comment about whether Calvary Chapel was discriminated against because of its Christian-based curriculum, or whether other institutions receive credit for religious courses.
McCant said that there is no evidence that students attending Calvary Chapel are any less pre-pared than other students for UC courses.
‘The assumption is that approved courses are an indication of the quality of the education provided and the preparedness of the students taking those courses,’ McCant said. ‘But UC has no evidence supporting that sweepingassumption.’
Sheilamae Reyes, a second-year sociology major, felt that students interested in attending an institution should fulfill the requirements of that institution.
‘I understand that as a private Christian school there are beliefs and values that should be taught to their students,’ Reyes said. ‘But the UC is a public institution and their entrance requirements are for the mass majority of schools. I think that private schools should comply with the requirements of public institutions.’
Alexander Pham, a third-year biomedical engineering major, attended Mater Dei, a Catholic school in Orange County. He said that as a compromise, Christian schools should offer religious and nonreligious courses.
‘All our courses in high school were college prep,’ Pham said. ‘For Mater Dei, most of our classes met the requirements for UC admissions. I think that Calvary Chapel should offer both Christian-based and non-Christian based courses for its students, and inform them as to which meet UC entrance requirements.’
Leah Zaragoza, a second-year aerospace engineering major, attended Bere an Christian High School in Walnut Creek, Calif. She felt that Calvary Chapel is being wrongly judged by the UC.
‘I think this issue is unfair for Calvary Chapel,’ Zaragosa said. ‘All my high school courses were Christian-based and instituted biblical values, and I was accept-ed into UCI. My science classes even compared and disproved evolution to creationism.
‘In addition, Zaragoza said that many students must attend a private school due to the wishes of their parents.
‘Many families enroll their children into private Christian schools, and the students have nosay,’ Zaragoza said. ‘It wouldn’t be fair if those students applied to a UC and were rejected. Those students were neither able to choose their high school nor the courses they were required to take.’