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.

About Adam Lee

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

  • velkyn

    I’m curious on how much money was wasted on this. I suppose they thought God would make them win and they did’t need to waste time on actual legal arguments. I suppose they were prayign to win. So, are they not “true Christians” and God ignored them, or didn’t they use the right “formula” to pray?

  • Christian the Atheist

    Well, if calling stupid actions stupid is persecution, call me Torquemada.

    The interesting thing is that in the right district or political situation, Christian ideas do get a lot of deference. Perhaps Calvary simply generalized a bit too hastily.

  • Christopher

    I wonder how this would have turned out if they actually did put some preparation into the case – I bet the lawsuit would just drag on today.

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com/ Robert Madewell

    Sounds to me like the ruling was a shock to Calvary. I’m sure they had more than just a mustard seed worth of faith. So, why didn’t it work? Why are there no new islands and plains where mountains used to be?

    Also, if they were using the textbook as evidence, why didn’t they bring a copy to court?

  • Mrnaglfar

    Robert,

    Also, if they were using the textbook as evidence, why didn’t they bring a copy to court?

    Because Christians are bad with evidence
    *zing*

  • http://www.yunshui.wordpress.com yunshui

    As I write this I’m sitting at home with a cold, wrapped in duvets and feeling very sorry for myself. Thanks, Ebon, for brightening up an otherwise miserable day! Reason and rationality are not dead yet!

  • Aspentroll

    Did they pray enough to win the suit? The obviously didn’t pray
    enough. Don’t they know that “prayer” is the answer to all things?

  • Jim Sabiston

    Great news. I saw the reports on the decision yesterday. Whew!

    It just never ceases to amaze me that these people continue to refuse to have any relationship with reality.

    As an aside, for those familiar with the Dover ID case, I just started reading ‘Monkey Girl’, by Edward Humes. I’m only up to page 102 or so, but this is proving to be a very enlightening book. Humes seems to have done very thorough research into the players and, so far, does not seem to take sides. Even so, the thing that jumps off the pages the most is the sheer obstinancy of the creationists. Their willingness to lie, obfuscate, bully and threaten to get their way is deeply disturbing, along with their absolute refusal to even learn about the things they are so set on fighting against. A very clear and frightening case of “My mind is made up – don’t confuse me with the facts!”

    I am pleased that our judiciary have been able to see through the crap that these people push into the courts and hold the line. Let us hope that they continue to do so.

  • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com/ Spanish Inquisitor

    Not only is the intellectual capacity of these people sub par, but it seems their ability to find competent attorneys is on an equal level. The same thing happened at Dover. Competent attorneys could have given the Plaintiffs a run for their money.

  • Calvary Student

    I go to this school, and I do take world religions. The course and book both exist. We actually changed to a book by Corduan (written very poorly), but mainly read from primary documents (from the Qu’ran to the Book of Mormon).

    We are taught both evolution and creationism.

    Honestly, we are presented with the same data that is presented in public schools, and after that – after we have learned fact – we simply study the possible relationship between the data and christian philosophy – a given for a christian school.

    I do not agree with several of the philosophies that the school holds, so I simply do not agree. Every student has free will to believe what they want, and we are encouraged to challenge what is presented to us.

    Personally, I expected this to fail and move on to the 9th circuit. It may end up being a supreme court case with the attention the case is getting now. I personally know the lawyer in charge of the case, and he has expected the same. The case is basically arguing that private schools should have the right to relate information with christian philosophy (including judaism, and catholicism as well). Our students score above average public schools, and many of our students are accepted to universities ranging from Harvard to USC. We are entirely capable, and the large majority of us are entirely open minded.

    I believe our country was founded on religious freedom (William Penn, Anne Hutchinson) – not christianity (although the majority of colonies held harsh christian ethics). If the facts that we learn are not distorted, why would it matter what a private school correlates with that information afterwards? If a student in the public school system was to study biology in school, then go to church and ask a pastor how that correlates with christian philosophy, that would not be wrong. So, how is it wrong that we do both at the same institution. Our classes deserve UC credit because we are not less able, and we have learned just as much or more than the public school system – that is the argument in a nutshell, or at least what it is most of the time.

    The school sometimes does generalize the argument, as one person commented. Sometimes the argument does seem to be an “everyone hates christians” fit. As far as the media goes, they do distort the argument to fit the anti-christian conspiracy, as I am the representative for the school body and have had my fair share of publicity interviews.

    Thanks for reading this post, and I hope that you will understand where I come from. I want freedom of religion, not special treatment. As an atheist, you should also desire the freedom of religion, as that is what kept the revolutionaries such as Hutchinson from being murdered by the radical protestant church.

    In closing, I love your page and find it excellent that you have made an informed decision about your beliefs (unlike some other parties…). Thanks!

    Louis

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    We are taught both evolution and creationism.

    I don’t consider that to be evidence of a quality curriculum. That’s like saying a school teaches both astronomy and astrology, or both chemistry and alchemy.

    If the facts that we learn are not distorted, why would it matter what a private school correlates with that information afterwards?

    The purpose of any good school is not just to teach children to recite lists of facts; the purpose of school is to teach students how to think and reason critically. The “philosophy” that’s taught at a school is not an unimportant add-on to the factual information, but the heart and soul of its educational mission. As described in the court rulings, many of the rejected courses explicitly taught students that faith in Christianity trumps any and all evidence and that the findings of science must be rejected wherever they conflict with Calvary’s chosen interpretation of the Bible. That is indoctrination, and it is the total opposite of what a good education should do.

    I want freedom of religion, not special treatment.

    You already have freedom of religion: you can study whatever courses you like at your private schools. You do not, however, have the right to ask UC to suspend its academic standards and grant college credit for courses that do not meet their requirements. That is special treatment, and that’s precisely what Calvary was demanding in this lawsuit.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X