Appeals court won't bar students from reading and discussing book about Qur'an
Just hours before 4,200 freshmen and transfer students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were scheduled to discuss a book about the Qur'an that university officials assigned over the summer, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied an injunction that would have stopped it.
Three anonymous freshman and the conservative Christian Family Policy Network had sued the school over its assignment of Michael Sells's Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations, saying it amounted to religious indoctrination.
The organization's main beef wasn't necessarily that the college was informing students about Islam, but that it wasn't informing them about Islam's violent side. "We do not believe the university is trying to indoctrinate in the sense of strict proselytizing," said the students' chief lawyer. "The goal is not to convert them to Islam but to coerce them into believing a positive view of the religion."
A lower federal judge had denied an injunction on Thursday, rejecting the organization's claim that the assignment infringed on religious freedom. He pointed out that the school offered students the option not to read the book (and instead write a one-page response about why they didn't). Furthermore, no grades are given at the "required" seminars where the book was to be discussed by the freshmen—faculty don't even take attendance, and last year only about half the students showed up. "In other words, a student who elects not to read the book is not penalized in any way," said Judge N. Carlton Tilley Jr.
After that ruling, Family Policy Network president Joe Glover called it a victory. "The judge said there is no required reading, there's ...1