The Associated Press, Jul 20, 2002 : 4:57 pm ET
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill won’t force incoming freshmen to read a book about Islam, but those who don’t will have to write a one-page paper about their religious objections to the book.
After the threat of a lawsuit, UNC-CH administrators quietly added the disclaimer Wednesday to their Web site about the mandatory reading selection, “Approaching the Qur’n: The Early Revelations.”
The new option makes the situation worse by requiring objectors to defend their religious beliefs in class, critics said.
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“Rather than defuse concern about this issue, I think they serve to stoke the flame and cause people to be more entrenched in their objection to this requirement,” said Joe Glover, president of the Virginia-based Family Policy Network, a conservative Christian group.
Glover said his organization had been searching for a plaintiff who believes the requirement violates First Amendment freedoms.
“If I’m an incoming 18-year-old freshman, I have to read this one-sided book about Islam that paints it as a religion of peace, or step out of line, present my papers, defy the university requirement and explain my objection,” he said. “Is this still America?”
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