Separation of Church & State Issue

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by paynedaniel, Jun 6, 2002.

  1. paynedaniel

    paynedaniel New Member

    The separation of church & state reasoning for religious schools which are not accredited is very interesting to me. Let's separate their reasoning for not being accredited from their majority traditional view on the separation of church and state and see if they add up - it's my belief that they do not.

    Small, independent, fiercely conservative religious schools often use the line "we do not seek accreditation from an agency recognized by the US Department of Education because of our stand on the separation of church and state." This seems a bit odd since the administration and students of most of these schools, being fundamentalist, are often in favor of public school prayer legislation and faith-based federal funding. Why, then, do they not want to be assessed by this government they have such an affinity for? Could it be that they know for a fact they will not be assessed in a favorable light?

    On the other hand, let's take for an example what I call traditional Southern Baptist affiliated state colleges. When I use the term "traditional" Southern Baptist, I mean those that the present convention would call moderate or liberal. Traditional Baptists have a history of being in favor of the separation of church and state, and rightly so, I believe. However, they allow themselves to be assessed by government-approved agencies while maintaing that prayer should not be allowed in public schools and that faith-based programs should not be federally funded. The twist is interesting. If any college should refrain from being assessed by an accrediting agency, should it not be those which have a philosophically consistent disagreement with the mixture of church and state affairs? Or perhaps these state Baptist schools see their first priority as being educational institutions rather than baptistic institutions. Just some thoughts....

    Finally, it seems to me, and is probably obvious to all of you as well, that the reasoning of unaccredited schools which use the defense of separation of church and state is most likely just putting up a smoke screen to cover horrific educational practices. What are your thoughts?

  2. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    If this doesn't flush Steve Levicoff, nothing will..... :D

  3. Dennis Ruhl

    Dennis Ruhl member

    Inconsistency is not new to religion nor are attempts to rationalize it.

    Strict separation of church and state is a must. Note that whenever a controversial thread in this forum deals with religious matters everyone seems to go ape-poo.

    To have secular accreditors decide whether a religious school is for real is inviting a terrible backlash.

    The United States learned early what many counties have still to learn. Mixing religion and politics often has tragic consequences.
  4. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    Thank you, Daniel. I think you've done a splendid analysis of the situation (that is, I agree with it entirely).

    Sometime, I'd love to know how the operators of probably-quite-sincere Bible schools, who have chosen accreditation from the dreadful Accrediting Commission International, pride of Beebe, Arkansas, really feel about ACI also accrediting secular "schools" that range from truly awful (Western States) to apparently non-existent (Wisconsin International). The initial mission of ACI, in its previous incarnation as IAC (pride of Gas City, Indiana) was to deal only with reglious schools, where the academics were, in many cases, secondary to the religious teachings. Indeed, the original (and perhaps still) name of IAC and ACI included "for schools, colleges, and theological seminaries."
  5. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    I agree with your concluding remarks. I think that in many cases non-accredited religious schools are just taking advantage of court ordered religious exemptions. Where legal loopholes allow degree mills to flourish, flourish they will.

    One way that this situation could be tightened up is if states actually bothered to enforce their own existing laws. Many state laws restrict religious exemptions to schools that exclusively offer degrees with religious titles. M.Div., D.Min., Th.M., Th.D., M.R.S. etc. But they forbid schools with religious exemptions from offering secular degree titles such as B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., Ph.D., M.B.A. and so on. The degree title itself has to be religion-specific.

    But even in these states, you quickly see the B.A.s in Bible and the Ph.D.s in religion seeping in without any objection by the state authorities. You have Ph.D.s in pastoral counseling gradually becoming generic Ph.D.s in counseling psychology.

    I imagine that some of these schools are politically connected and others threaten lawsuits. The cost and hassle of enforcing the laws that are already on the books are so great that the regulators probably decide to ignore the problem and concentrate on more pressing issues.
  6. Guest

    Guest Guest


    As to your first comment. There are many conservative fundamentalist organizations that do not want faith based funding because they do not want government intrusion. It is often the more liberal faith groups/denominations who would like the faith based funding.

    I do agree with your assessment that many of the schools who say they do not want government interference are simply avoiding something that they have no hope passing (ie accreditation) which is non governmental anyway. Or they get the ACI because that is the only process they have any hope of passing. Both of those practices are appalling especially from religious schools. It is like State Approved schools and their excuses for not achieving accreditation with the added fact that the religious schools are supposed to be taking the higher ground. There are some schools who are sincere. BJU is an example. They won't even accept religious accreditation for fear they will have to compromise.

    My feeling is that in terms of consumer protection all schools should have to submit to some genuine evaluative process that does not interfere in religious curriculum (even the academically gifted BJU). I am not a fan of unaccredited degree granting instutitions that are not on some recognized path to accreditation.

  7. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Re: Re: Separation of Church & State Issue

    My personal feeling is that some evaluative process should be in place which evaluates a school's quality without interfering in religious curriculum. No school not on an accreditation path should be allowed to issue degrees of any kind. Certificates yes. But no academic degree sounding title.

  8. Dennis Ruhl

    Dennis Ruhl member

    Separating academics from religious content in schools could be very touchy.

    At the "al Qaeda University of Peace, Love, Meditation and the Destruction of America" there could be some feelings of persecution.

    I agree that degrees granted should be purely religious. No traditional degree titles should be allowed in any form.

    Also, what does one do about small denominations that only have a poor quality seminary. To many groups theology is more important than rigorous academics. Do we deny them a clergy?

    Perhaps anyone attending a school not accredited by an agency recognized by the US Dept of Education should have to sign a waiver acknowledging the fact.

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