Guest / Limited Access /

A Texas Supreme Court decision is being hailed as a victory for religious schools' academic freedom. The court ruled August 31 that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board cannot require religious schools to receive a "certificate of authority" or to submit to accreditation.

Liberty Legal Institute filed suit on behalf of Tyndale Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1999, after the higher education board fined the school $173,000 for issuing degrees and calling itself a seminary. Two years earlier, a new state law combating so-called diploma mills had mandated that law schools, medical schools, technical schools, and seminaries meet 21 standards to operate legally.

But applying the same standards to law schools and religious institutions doesn't work, argued Kelly Shackelford, Liberty Legal Institute's chief counsel. "For example, the (Texas) requirement that you have to have a master's degree to teach at a post-secondary school," he said. "That means Billy Graham couldn't teach evangelism in a Texas seminary."

The Association of Theological Schools (ATS), one of only two religious accrediting agencies recognized by the Texas education board, said accreditation provides quality assurance and public accountability.

But administrators at Tyndale Theological Seminary believe accreditation weakens a school's doctrinal autonomy. It also costs thousands of dollars each year to maintain, a cost the small seminary would have been forced to pass along to students, said Tyndale president Christopher Cone. The seminary enrolls about 300 students annually.

According to ATS spokesperson Nancy Merrill, the organization respects member schools' doctrinal statements and only "asks schools to hold themselves accountable to their ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Africa Unbound
God may be clearing the stage for the next act in his redemptive drama.
RecommendedStop Calling Ted Cruz a Dominionist
Stop Calling Ted Cruz a Dominionist
The Christian candidate's faith influences his platform, but not in the ways most critics assume.
TrendingChristians Can Hold Their Bladders and Still Shop at Target
Christians Can Hold Their Bladders and Still Shop at Target
Consider the missional implications before you boycott.
Editor's PickReading Esther in the Shadow of ISIS
Reading Esther in the Shadow of ISIS
A Jewish philosopher’s perspective on how God delivers his people from radical evil.
Christianity Today
Free from State Oversight
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.