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ADF asks U.S. Supreme Court to end Idaho censorship of all religious, classical texts in public schools

ADF seeks review of 9th Circuit ruling that upheld ban on all religious, Western Civ. texts from objective study in every public school, university
Published On: 10/18/2017

WASHINGTON — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday that asks the court to weigh in on an Idaho charter school’s lawsuit against state officials. The lawsuit involves the Idaho Public Charter School Commission’s complete ban on the use of texts and documents deemed to be “religious” even if they are classical books from Western Civilization taught with regard to their literary and historical importance.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the ban earlier this year. If the commission’s misinterpretation of state law is allowed to stand, all Idaho public school and university students will be subject to the ban.

“The mere fact that a classical text is religious does not mean it has no educational value. The Supreme Court itself has clearly acknowledged this, and that’s why it should hear this case,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “It’s ridiculous that a historical religious text that has been studied as part of Western Civilization for centuries is somehow automatically off limits. It’s no wonder that the call for school choice has become so popular: When government officials ban the objective study of all religious texts, including the most important literary works of all time--such as the Bible, the Iliad, and the Odyssey--it only contributes to the further dumbing-down of government-run education.”

ADF attorneys filed suit on behalf of Nampa Classical Academy in 2009 after the commission threatened to revoke the academy’s charter if it used the Bible or other religious books for any purpose whatsoever as part of the school’s classroom resource list. A wholesale ban on such books conflicts with established U.S. Supreme Court precedent stating that even “the Bible may constitutionally be used in an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like.”

After being in the development process for more than six years, Nampa Classical Academy completed its first year of instruction in 2010 with more than 500 students. It received approval from the State Board of Education in 2008 and received positive responses from the commission at each stage of its development. In 2009, however, the commission voted to prohibit the academy from using any “religious documents and text” in its curriculum or in its classroom--even if used objectively as a curriculum resource.

Cortman explained that, contrary to the conclusion of the district court, the local school district--not the charter school commission--is the entity allowed by law to make the ultimate determination on how to implement the state’s curriculum standards.

Attorney Bruce Skaug of Nampa is serving as local counsel in the suit, Nampa Classical Academy v. Goesling.

  • Pronunciation guide: Goesling (GOSS’-ling)

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. | | Ref. 26975

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