Christian Fundamentalists vs the University of California
Revolution #030, January 15, 2006, posted at revcom.us
Lawyers representing fundamentalist Christian schools--which teach that everything in the Bible is literally true--are suing the University of California in federal court to force the University to accept classes being taught at Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, California for college preparation requirements. The fundamentalist schools claim that their First Amendment rights were violated and that they were victims of "viewpoint discrimination" because the University of California (UC) refused to approve a number of science and humanity courses taught at Calvary in admissions decisions.
What is being taught in the disputed classes has nothing to do with critical thinking and a scientific approach to reality. And consider the very logic of the lawsuit: if UC can be compelled to accept these classes as meeting college requirements, why couldn’t the university also be compelled to teach this? And what kind of impact will it have on other schools if UC is forced to accept these classes? More than that--what is the larger agenda that this is part of? Where is it heading?
Take a look at some of these contested courses. For example, Biology for Christian Schools, a textbook for one of the rejected courses, says, "The people who have prepared this book have tried consistently to put the Word of God first and science second. If at any point God's Word is not put first, the author apologizes." In other words, if the Bible says that the earth is just a few thousand years old (which is what textbooks like this uphold) then it must be so, and never mind a mountain of scientific evidence that says the earth is billions of years old. If the Bible says that all of the animals were created in six days, that's what must have really happened--again never mind the overwhelming evidence for evolution. And if somehow the reader is left with any notion to the contrary, then "the author apologizes"!
Science demands critical thinking based on observation of the real world. If religious or any other kind of unscientific assumptions are made equal with or put above scientific methodology, then science itself is thrown out the window. And this point is made in a backhanded way by a physics textbook rejected by UC, which says, "Trying to believe both secular physics and the Bible leaves you in a state of confusion that will weaken your faith in God's Word."
The same kind of dogmatism is applied to the humanities. The textbook for one of the humanities classes that UC refused to accredit, United States History for Christian Schools, says that Thomas Jefferson was a liar and an antichrist. Because he upheld slavery? Guess again. It’s because, says this textbook, Jefferson thought that Jesus Christ was a good teacher but not the incarnate son of God.
Elements of Literature for Christian Schools attacks Mark Twain, who wrote a number of humorous and popular works that critique religion. According to this textbook, Twain’s "skepticism was clearly not the honest questioning of a seeker of truth but the deliberate defiance of a confessed rebel." Poet Emily Dickinson is also singled out for attack.
What does it mean when figures like Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson are subject to these kinds of attacks in high school textbooks? The forces behind this want a society where the Bible is accepted as THE TRUTH and the one and only yardstick against which to measure everything.
The attempt to force a major public university to accept this kind of nonsense is part of a whole agenda that includes reconfiguring all kinds of cultural, social, and political "norms" in society. This is a movement predicated on the shared conviction that the United States is in need of drastic changes to establish a variant of Christian fundamentalism as the foundation and framework of all its institutions. Today they ask for recognition as a legitimate alternative; but the logic of their program, along with what they have done in other spheres, leads to a tomorrow where theirs is the ONLY legitimate interpretation.
A civics textbook by A. Beka Publishing (which provides books for many of the classes that were rejected by UC) begins, "All governments are ordained by God, but none compare to government by God, theocracy." These forces are Christian fascist--they are quite serious about instituting a theocracy, and their lawsuit against the University of California must be seen in that light--a bid for legitimacy in the present, in the service of achieving an airless, locked-down future. Now is the time to resist.