I think that it depends on what kind of "religious convention" it is. My impression is that unaccredited and/or otherwise doubtful academic credentials are most prevalent out on the fundamentalist and pentecostal end of Protestantism, where many clergy operate their own independent congregations. Bogus credentials don't seem as common in more organized denominations with more explicit ordination requirements. (They often want to see ATS accredited degrees or degrees from their own seminaries.) The only James White that I've heard of is the football player. So I won't try to comment on this guy's education. But I will say that religious exemption isn't a guarantee against bogosity. It just means that religious schools have been exempted from having to meet the (often minimal) state-mandated standards that secular schools must meet in order to operate legally. Whether or not an unaccredited religious school is academically doubtful is going to be a function of more conventional variables that apply to all higher education institutions. What do its syllabi look like? (What do its students study? At what level?) What does its faculty list look like? (Who teaches there? What are their qualifications and reputations? Has anyone else in the field ever heard of them?) Does the school produce any scholarship? (What kind? What reception does it receive?) Has the school received any recognition from conventional academia in the form of collaborations, joint programs or projects, or grants and awards won? One would hope that the denomination will only recognize degrees that have some academic credibility. I don't think that it is trivial if a preacher is using a bogus credential to try to convince laypeople that he/she has some kind of higher professional training (and hence authority) in theological matters, in mental health (many of these religious exempt degrees seem to be in pastoral counseling) or whatever it is.