The UC-Calvary Lawsuit Concluded

This past April, I posted an update on the UC-Calvary lawsuit that I first discussed in February 2006. I have another update to report, and I’m happy to say it’s very good news indeed.

As you’ll recall, the private Calvary Chapel Christian School sued the University of California in a bid to force UC to grant college credit for courses that taught creationism and were otherwise biased toward Christianity. Calvary Chapel filed two challenges, one facial – that the UC’s college credit policy was intrinsically unconstitutional – and one as-applied – that the UC’s policy had been illegally applied in a discriminatory way. At the April hearing, UC won summary judgment against the facial challenge. Now it’s won summary judgment against the as-applied challenge as well, meaning that the lawsuit is dead in the water and Calvary has lost.

The judge’s full ruling not only methodically dismantles all of Calvary’s claims, it paints a clear picture of their amusing legal ineptitude. For instance, the judge disqualified most of Calvary’s expert testimony because they submitted it only after the deadline for submitting such evidence had passed. As the judge says:

At oral argument, Plaintiffs conceded that they did not prepare for the as-applied challenges because they did not expect the Court to reach those claims.

In other words, Calvary was so smugly certain they would win summary judgment on their facial challenge that they never even gathered evidence to substantiate the rest of their arguments. When the facial challenge was rejected, they were caught unprepared and scrambled to submit additional testimony, but the deadline had long since lapsed by that point. The ruling shows that the court accepted many of UC’s expert testimonial assertions because Calvary made no attempt to rebut them.

A major part of the as-applied challenge was that UC had shown unconstitutional animus toward religion, although it seems that Calvary’s lawyers were unfamiliar with the relevant legal terminology until the judge explained it to them:

Defendants argue that Plaintiffs waived any animus argument when Plaintiffs’ counsel stated “We do not intend to argue the case based on proving animus” at the hearing on the parties’ first round of summary judgment motions. Plaintiffs dispute this argument, explaining that they did not intend to argue animus until this Court used that term to describe the punishment of disfavored viewpoints…

And when it comes to their actual courses, Calvary’s preparation seems little better:

Defendants could not confirm that the proposed text, World Religions by Dan Halverson, existed…

In fairness, there is a book called The Compact Guide To World Religions – by Dean Halverson. Its Amazon page describes it as “a manual designed to arm proselytizing Christians in their attempt to confront Buddhists, Moslems, Hindus, Taoists, Jews, Marxists, and other faith believers with the inconsistencies of their faiths and to ring them into Christianity,” which makes me suspect this is the one that they wanted to use. But if Calvary was so slipshod in its course syllabus as to get both the name and the title of the book wrong, I doubt UC is under any obligation to try to guess at what they might have meant.

Since Calvary presented no evidence of the UC’s animus against Christianity, and failed to offer any response to UC’s expert testimony explaining why the rejected courses were academically unsuitable, it’s no wonder their lawsuit went down in flames. The fact that they filed it in the first place, despite being so manifestly unprepared to back up their claims, suggests that they expected to receive deference from the court and be granted a no-effort victory just because they were Christian. Hopefully they have now been disabused of that notion – although I strongly suspect they’ll fail to learn any lesson from this, and will instead add a distorted, favorably edited version of this story to the fundamentalists’ repository of urban legends about how they are persecuted by society.

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About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Arc of Fire, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.


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