Emily Dickinson at Heart of Textbook Squabble

An article in the Sunday, November 27 New York Times lists excerpts from textbooks that are being disputed in a lawsuit by a consortium of Christian high schools against the University of California system for refusing to credit some of their courses that are taught from a Christian viewpoint. One of the texts, Elements of Literature for Christian Schools, by Ronald Horton, Donalynn Hess and Steven Skeggs (Bob Jones University, 201), criticizes both Emily Dickinson, class of 1849, and Mark Twain for their lack of faith. According to the text: "Dickinson's year at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary further shaped her 'religious' views. During her stay at the school, she learned of Christ but wrote of her inability to make a decision for Him. … Although she did view the Bible as a source of poetic inspiration, she never accepted it as an inerrant guide to life."

According to the Times, the schools in the lawsuit argue that their students are being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. The university system says they have the right to set their own standards.

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New York Times Article