AP, Aug. 9, 2002
“I suppose evolution will be next,” said University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill faculty chairwoman Sue Estroff. “I can see them saying we have to teach creationism and the rest of it. To say it isn’t an assault on academic freedom is ludicrous.”
The House Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to ban the use of public funds for a reading assignment on the Quran unless other religions get equal time. The proposal came as the committee worked to put together a $14.3 billion state budget.
The measure must next be passed by the full House. No date has been set. It would then have to clear the Senate and be signed into law by Gov. Mike Easley. A spokesman for the governor said Friday he had no comment.
Retired UNC president William C. Friday compared the measure to a 1963 state law that banned communists from speaking on state campuses, which prompted the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to consider revoking accreditation. The Supreme Court of the United States ultimately declared the ban unconstitutional.
The educator said Thursday that “the university would suffer greatly from another lengthy, costly battle over accreditation that would surely ensue.”
Democratic State Sen. Howard Lee, vice chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said it’s unclear whether the proposal would pass the Senate.
Three unidentified incoming freshmen and a conservative Christian organization filed a federal lawsuit last month contending the reading infringed upon their right to religious freedom. Opening arguments are set for Aug. 15.