Little Short of Amazing


My correspondent, who pointed out the case going on in California that I wrote about yesterday, sent a new email today:

Rabbi Menken, re: Calvary Chapel suit and your C-C post on it, I wish I had seen this USA Today article when I had emailed you Sunday. I’ve been following this case for months, because I’ve been trying to convince myself that it isn’t sheer antipathy toward religious content that is driving the UC administrators to nix courses. And yet, that’s the conclusion I’m left with when I read this question posed by a UC spokeswoman: “What we’re looking for is this: Is the course academic in nature, or is it there to promote a specific religious lifestyle?”

Or“? . . . as in these two objectives are mutually exclusive? The spokeswoman’s question speaks volumes of the low regard UC administrators have for the place of religion.

This article also finally pulls in the larger issue of the impact the outcome of this case will have for non-Evangelical religious schools. If you’re interested in the topic, I do recommend that you look at the article.

What amazes me is that one of my favorite and certainly most persistent critics, DovBear, managed to discover the above article all on his own, and nonetheless takes it for granted that the courses were deemed “inadequate” by an impartial standard, and offers that Calvary is providing a “sub-standard education.” But then again, he also writes that “the issue here isn’t admission, but course credit” — and both articles say that admission itself is the issue at hand. Yesterday’s article from the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out that the Calvary students perform above average on standardized tests. Isn’t “above average” the opposite of “sub-standard?”

The USA Today article, even more than that of yesterday, provides compelling evidence that there is no neutral standard by which the Calvary classes were deemed lacking. Instead what we get is a UC spokeswoman’s statement which singles out a religious perspective for rejection. As per the plaintiffs’ argument, “the university accepts courses from other schools taught from a particular viewpoint, such as feminist, African-American or countercultural” — and then rejects a course intended to “promote a specific religious lifestyle.”

No one is saying that the UC cannot set admissions standards. But those standards cannot be biased against religion, any more than they can reject feminism or African-American culture. The above is obvious evidence of anti-religious bias.

For those who wonder why we should be concerned about a case involving Christians and a secular college, there is a famous statement of Chazal, Ayzeh hu Chacham? Mi sheRo’eh es HaNolad — Who is wise? He who sees what will transpire.

I am no wise man. But there’s a lot of room for average folk between wisdom and foolishness — and I would call it foolish not to wonder how this might affect Jewish high schools in the very near future. As Charles Haynes, senior scholar on religious liberty issues at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va, said, “what about Muslim schools? Are they next? They teach within a Koranic framework. That doesn’t mean those kids aren’t well-educated.”

Parents who home school their children also should be watching the case, says John Green, senior fellow in religion and politics at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C. “Home schoolers, including people on the left, do it because they feel that their values are not being taught.”

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Charles B. Hall
9 years 8 months ago

The federal government is now getting into the business of evaluating high school curricula:

Rivka W.
9 years 8 months ago

“What happens if those schools begin using something like those Artscroll textbooks?” Bais Yaakov already does, and has since they became available. Then again, the English classes quite likely have not been reevaluated by UC since BY switched textbooks. (Additionally, they also use at least one novel per year, which addresses one of UC’s objections.)

“On the other hand, a class that incorporated everything that UC expected from a social-studies class and had D&D games would be legitimate.” Agreed. And yet, that seems to be precisely what is NOT happening in this case.

“UC does not evaluate individual curriculums of out of state and international students. They use HS GPA and SAT/CAT/TOEFL scores. They should use the same criteria for all California residents.” While your statement is only partly true (UC does expect out of state schools to meet certain requirements (such as accreditation), it is irrelevant regardless. California’s constitution defines the UC system’s responsibilities to California residents. And they are simply not the same as to other potential students. (Not surprisingly, neither is the tuition.)

“in any case Cali has an exit exam.” Which is brand new, and only required of public school graduates. (

That UC has a right (even a responsibility) to set standards for incoming students is clear in the California Master Plan for Higher Education. ( That those standards must not be unfair or biased should be obvious . . . but perhaps is not.

9 years 8 months ago

What, exactly, would you accept as evidence of bias?

Like Seth Gordon, I’d accept the courts ruling, and I would also agree there was bias if the same cirriculum was offered by another non-Christian school but accepted by UC.

I suppose it’s just not difficult for me to see how a Christian curriculum might fall short of a College’s demands.

9 years 8 months ago

UC does not evaluate individual curriculums of out of state and international students. They use HS GPA and SAT/CAT/TOEFL scores. They should use the same criteria for all California residents.

I do not know of any university evaluating high school curriculum. This is a state role and in any case Cali has an exit exam.

So UC should use the same tools used by other university and not meddle in individual schools curriculum.

Seth Gordon
9 years 8 months ago

What, exactly, would you accept as evidence of bias?

If the allegations in the complaint are proven at trial, I would accept that as evidence of bias. But I don’t know UC’s response to the allegations.

Let me turn the question around: what kind of history or literature course do you think UC could justifiably reject, even if some of their directors and spokespeople seem personally prejudiced against conservative Christians?