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Censorship: A new way to educate?

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

SEATTLE — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have appealed a ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that upheld the dismissal of an Idaho charter school’s lawsuit against state officials.

The suit, Nampa Classical Academy v. Goesling, challenges the Idaho Public Charter School Commission’s full ban on the use of texts and documents deemed to be “religious” even if they are classical books in Western Civilization taught with regard to their literary and historical importance. The case now goes to a full panel of the 9th Circuit on a request for rehearing.

“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,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman, who argued before the 9th Circuit in June. “It’s ridiculous that a historical religious text that has been studied as part of Western Civilization for hundreds--or even thousands--of years is somehow automatically off limits. 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 Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and the Odyssey--it only contributes to the further dumbing down of public school education. It’s no wonder that the call for school choice has become so popular.”

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,’” Cortman explained.

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.

If the commission’s misinterpretation of the law is allowed to stand, all Idaho public school and university students will be subject to the ban. 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.

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  • 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.

 

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