Monday, November 21, 2005

"Religion Has No Place in the Public Schools, Just Like Facts Have No Place in Organized Religion!"

From the New York Times:
Cody Young is an evangelical Christian who attends a religious high school in Southern California. With stellar grades, competitive test scores and an impressive list of extracurricular activities, Mr. Young has mapped a future that includes studying engineering at the University of California and a career in the aerospace industry, his lawyers have said.

But Mr. Young, his teachers and his family fear his beliefs may hurt his chance to attend the university. They say the public university system, which has 10 campuses, discriminates against students from evangelical Christian schools, especially faith-based ones like Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, where Mr. Young is a senior.

Mr. Young, five other Calvary students, the school and the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents 4,000 religious schools, sued the University of California in the summer, accusing it of "viewpoint discrimination" and unfair admission standards that violate the free speech and religious rights of evangelical Christians. ...

The lawyer for the school, Robert Tyler, said reviewing and approving the course content was an intrusion into private education that amounted to government censorship. "They are trying to secularize private Christian schools," Mr. Tyler said. "They have taken God out of public schools. Now they want to do it at Christian schools." ...

A lawyer for the Association of Christian Schools International, Wendell Bird, said the Calvary concerns surfaced two years ago when the admissions board scrutinized more closely courses that emphasized Christianity. In the last year, the board has rejected courses like Christianity's Influence in American History, Special Provenance: Christianity and the American Republic, Christianity and Morality in American Literature and a biology course using textbooks from the Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Book, conservative Christian publishers. ....

A university fact sheet says publishers sometimes acknowledge their books are mainly to teach religion. The sheet has this excerpt from Bob Jones's "Biology for Christian Schools," used in unapproved courses, "The people who have prepared this book have tried consistently to put the Word of God first and science second."
Where to begin?

Well, first of all, let's start with the student in question. Cody Young wants to become an engineer, but thinks a science curriculum based on the descriptions of Noah's arkbuilding will get him there. He wants to forge a career in the aerospace industry, presumably so he can fly the first manned space flight to Jesus. You know, I remember college science courses with nicknames like Physics for Poets, but I don't remember Physics for Pharisees. Sorry, Hezekiah. No dice.

Second, I am truly moved by the sincere cries of victimization from these poor, persecuted Christians. It must be so hard living in a country that's only about ninety percent Christian! Case in point: The public schools refused to let them force all students to accept their religious views, and therefore they had no choice but to flee. And now that they've built up their own little fiefdoms -- and I use that term literally, given the 13th century view of the world being taught in these places -- they're finding that the "accredited" universities are demanding "facts" and "evidence" be used in their stupid secular science classes. What nerve!

Seriously, "viewpoint discrimination"? Isn't this just like the charge that conservatives love to make about liberals, that we're all hedonistic jerks so paralyzed by our moral relativism that we can't distinguish between right and wrong? Well, there's right and wrong in science and math and history and literature, too, and it's a lot easier for us to fact check your answers on those subjects than it is for you to crosscheck our moral claims against the true feelings of the Almighty. You know why? We have an answer key in the back of our book.

Somewhere, God is trying to tell these people: "You know, I gave you a brain. For the love of Me, use it!"


Malibu Stacy said...

It's incredible to me that the private institutions are outraged that public, taxpayer-supported institutions (taxpayers of all religions, might we add) have criteria for what they will and won't accept.

I was happy to see that Cornell's president Hunter Rawlings took a strong stand on this point in his recent State of the University address:

"I am convinced that the political movement seeking to inject religion into state policy and our schools is serious enough to require our collective time and attention. Cornell’s history, its intellectual scope, and its current commitments position us well to contribute to the national debate on religion and science."

You can read the whole speech

Mr Furious said...

Ah, shut the hell up and make sure you get your app. out to Bob Jones as a back-up school. I hear they've got a great aerospace program...

Seriously, this is all on this kids parents, they set him on the path for this bullshit confrontation years ago. He can get some actual college science under his belt somewhere else or in another program and transfer into aerospace or he can choose another field. I feel bad for him if he really wanted to go into this and is being hamstrung by his dumb-ass high school and 'thumper parents, but what is the University supposed to do? He can't demonstrate the proper background with his transcript. Period.

Thrillhous said...

I can't wait to see Cody's plans for some engineering thing, like a computer.

"See, we attach the transistors to this box here, and in this box God will convert the 0's and 1's into words for us to read on the screen. No, it's totally going to work. God told me last night."

Otto Man said...

Actually, I suspect his approach to engineering would be based on the great construction projects of the Bible: Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, etc. "No, no, according to Chapter 3 Verse 7, the base of the structure should be seven cubits by ten cubits!"

InanimateCarbonRod said...

These are the same people who keep telling us how important it is for minorities to assimilate themselves into the majority culture. Science is part of America. Love it or leave it, baby!

Otto Man said...

Good point, iRod. Conservative Christians make majoritarian arguments all the time when it suits their cause -- for instance, arguing that public displays for Christian holidays or the "under God" part of the Pledge are fine because the vast majority of Americans are Christian or religious. And yet when they're clearly the minority, it suddenly becomes all about their persecution at the hands of the majority.

ORF said...

In general, I find ANY Christians who complain about being "persecuted" or in the minority to just be getting their due reward for all the BS they transgressed against members of other religions. That it should be coming from their secular American brethren makes it all the sweeter.

S.W. Anderson said...

I just hope fundamentalist Christians will at some point wake up to the fact that so many problems they attribute to the discrimination of others arise from their own insistence on taking ancient parables and handed-down stories literally, plus their combination of pushiness and paranoia.

The whole package is not spirituality so much as it's a neurotic syndrome.

A college student with this guy's ambitions can find out from a reputable high school guidance counselor, or from the university itself, what's required to get into a specific program.

His parents made a choice. He and his parents chose this kind of total-immersion fundamentalist Christian education instead of a school with the science-based education that would get him where he wanted to go. They don't need a day in court, they need some help growing up and developing some common sense.