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Religion and College Admissions


An association of Christian high schools is suing the University of California system, alleging unconstitutionally biased admissions, according to a Chicago Tribune article. The UC system is accused of discounting core courses from Christian high schools because of their religious viewpoint. UC does admit that “the process of reviewing [high school courses] has become more regularized and rigorous over time,” according to Christopher Patti, counsel for UC.

The decision of this unprecedented case could have a large impact on curriculum—not only for California’s approximately 800 religious secondary schools, but also for religious high schools around the country. "If...the university prevails, then it seems to me to send a message across the country that a religious viewpoint at a religious school can get you in trouble,” said Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center, a non-partisan foundation dedicated to free press and free speech. “That's a chilling message. That can hurt your graduates, and that is also a disincentive to go to a religious school.”


I object to the intrusion of religion in any aspect of secular life such as government or education. Let's keep the separation of church and state absolute. In my opinion, religion particularly the monotheistic religions have failed to prove that they can coexist with each other because of their doctrinal bias. History has shown that Judaism, Christianity and Islam while professing to believe in the same God have consistently killed and made war against not only each other but also one another. This can't be attributed to a beneficent God but must be attributed to doctrinal differences. It's more important to live a just and ethical life than it is to be doctrinally correct.

R. Spurgeon indicates he objects to "the intrusion of religion in any aspect of secular life such as government or education." As an American, you must know your history well enough to realize the country was founded on religious freedom. Not freedom FROM religion, but freedom OF religion. The Reformers who brought about the Enlightenment specifically denied the idea of a sacred/secular divide in life or in civic government.

That they went too far, and eventually just established an alternate established Church was why the US Constitution will not permit the establishment of a State church. Nevertheless, to argue the Constitution forbids any "intrusion" of religion into the "secular" world is completely incorrect.

I realize you did not say the "constitution" objects to religion in education-you did. But, the students aren't asking the UC system to accept their faith, or teach it. They are only asking for admission to the University on an unbiased basis. My take is simple: Read the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the IRS Regulation 75-50 statements of the UC system. Both require admission without regard to-how does it go? "Race, religion, or national origin." The Christian schools have a very strong case against CA universities on the basis of the universities' own "non-discrimination" policies.

Acceptance without concern to religion is not the issue at hand. What the UC schools are saying is that all classes are not taught alike. As a teacher I have investigated books and teaching going on in religious schools that family members attend. There are many topics that are taught in public schools that are not broached in their schools. The UC schools are not discriminating, but trying to assure that the students are prepared to enter the college environment - that the students all have similar preparations and will therefore be on an even playing field.

I think we need to think about Emily's post. What on earth are the "many topics" that are taught in public school that are not broached in these religious school? And isn't admission/crediting supposed to be based on mastery of content and not on the context in which that content is delivered?

I think this clearly IS discrimination not even cleverly disguised. If the university were interested in a "level playing field," we would have to have a national curriculum, enforced in each school and classroom by teachers prepared in the same way, sharing (I would imagine) the same beliefs, and in some way or other, equally able. (This sounds like an advanced NCLB.)

I would guess that the fact is that students prepared in the schools referred to in the article are at least as well prepared as those that come from public/state schools (the alternative not mentioned in the article).

And this is not religion intruding on anything. I have the right to attend whatever school I wish, and I am responsible for getting the education that I need for my future. In fact, if anything is intruding it is the University of California when it tells me that I may lose credit if I attend a religious school. This seems like a much greater threat to the First Amendment than anything that exists at present.

Remember, as someone already noted, it's not about freedom FROM religion; the Constitution protects our freedoms, and one of those protected is religious freedom. I too would be opposed to a State Religion, something about as likely to happen as snow is Miami in August.

If the UC system does indeed tend to discount core courses taught in religious schools because of alleged concerns about content, this is worrisome. The contention that there are "many" topics taught in public schools that are not even "broached" in Christian schools is unsubstantiated. The only obvious candidate would be evolution--and that is something quite often "broached" in many Christian schools, often in the context of being taught quite well. At the same time, teaching regarding evolution is often below standard in public schools.

When a university system starts denoting some "core" classes as not being up to snuff, even though the high schools teaching them present them as meeting the criteria necessary to be designated as "core", that university system is hanging out over the edge with little support. Do they really wish to review in depth the content and teaching of all "core" courses taught by any secondary schools with students applying to their system? What of home-schooled students? Do they even wish to give the appearance they are doing such, or would even wish to do such?

This clearly seems to smell of potential discrimination to me. Have they denied "core" designation to courses taught in Islamic schools? Jewish? Other private schools? Any public schools? If not, then they've at the very least got some serious explaining to do.

As for the "absolute" separation of church and state, well, that only sounds possible to those who take seriously neither one.

Can anyone define regularized and explain the standard for rigorous? The larger Christian Schools - especially high schools are usually nationally accredited (check out the highly esteemed Middle States Accredidation). Meaning they have had to meet the protocol and standards provided for core curriculum as set by an association that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education AND the United States Department of Education. There are six accredidation associations that serve public and non-public degree-granting schools - whether secondary or higher education. These associations were created (some during the 1800's) to ensure educational excellence and an evolving, diverse, and dynamic global education for public and non-public students. Funny thing is, in order to be respected in the higher education community, UC has probably been assessed by one (Northwest Commission) of these six associations - just like the Christian schools that have them so concerned.

If a religious school found it necessary, in order to be consistent with their beliefs, to teach that the sun and planets revolved around the earth, we might better understand that their science curriculum would have deficiencies--and that these deficiencies would impact the ability of students to move into college-level work in the sciences. Not only would the specific content related to orbits be impacted, but everything that derived from that understanding would also be questionable. And some basic tenets of science that would tend to disprove the belief would have to be scrapped.

Imagine, in addition, that some publishers with a profit motive slapped together some texts purported to teach this material--and having a corner on a niche market didn't have to worry much about basic accuracies.

Now--anyone can learn anything they want to learn, or teach their children the same, no matter how silly. But the folks who are charged with college admissions are SUPPOSED to be evaluating course content and whether it provides and adequate preparation for continued study in college. Many, many religious schools have no problem with this--and do not have a problem with teaching appropriate content. A few not only want to create their own curriculum (acceptable) but also force the world to buy in to its legitimacy (not acceptable)

Hmm. UC (a government funded institution) wants to discriminate against religious school graduates in admissions. While some may not like the facts that religious school graduates usually achieve more than their public school peers, what they really dislike is freedom of religion -- and the freedom of thought that implies. That UC could claim otherwise is simply a ruse. UC will lose in court, until they find another pretext for their discriminatory practices. Is it constitutional for UC is to mandate a course in Socialist or Atheist thought for the basis of its admission? Most Americans would say of course not. If UC succeeds, then this year it will be Christian schools, next year it will be Catholic schools, the year after that, private schools that are not sufficiently "progressive". UC is not discriminating against people based on their abilities. They are discriminating based on individual beliefs. The education establishment is also discriminating against individuals and families for selecting a non-public (non-teacher's union) education.

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Recent Comments

  • Mary1979: Hmm. UC (a government funded institution) wants to discriminate against read more
  • Margo/Mom: If a religious school found it necessary, in order to read more
  • Deborah Ocot: Can anyone define regularized and explain the standard for rigorous? read more
  • Peter Lake: If the UC system does indeed tend to discount core read more
  • tim: I think we need to think about Emily's post. What read more




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