« Links Mentioned on the 9/30/14 Show | Main | Women and Christianity »

October 01, 2014

Comments


The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.

Not any more. Now the goal is to coerce certain political correctnesses.

It sounds to me like "accreditation" has jumped the shark.
Private colleges need to get off that addictive crack.

This reminds me of the "mark of the beast" in Revelation. In the fist century, people had to get a tattoo of emperor worship if they wished to partake in public trading and life. These types of things sound similar to what is happening nowadays. Accept the ruling powers paradigm, or you are pushed out of society.

If this becomes the trend then Christian schools (and other religious schools with the same same-sex values) should get off the the accreditation train. If "official" accreditation becomes devalued because these schools continue to graduate excellent students and topnotch future employees then even non-religious private schools would likely follow to save costs and hassle to meet someone else's standards. A school's reputation would come from the quality of its education programs (which it basically does now) and a loss of accreditation "status" will have little to no effect on the desire to attend the school. I think it just needs the mass exodus from accreditation to have a strong statement.

NEASC isn't the only game in town. I'd immediately initiate proceedings to affiliate with a different accrediting agency, of which there are several.

Where do accrediting agencies get their legitimacy? If there were enough Christian universities, couldn't they just form their own accrediting agencies?

I actually wrote a piece recently that touches on some of these issues, at http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/09/uphold-doctrine-avoid-discrimination

I'm disappointed to see what Gordon is going through and agree with your general analysis. However, I do think that part of the difficulty is that Christian organizations have, in many cases, discriminated against people simply based on their experience of same-sex attraction, or their decision to be open about such an experience. Even if Gordon has not done so themselves, the broader phenomenon may have contributed to the skeptical atmosphere.

I think a broader call for Christian organizations to treat people more like they have in the cases you mentioned (or the case I mentioned in my piece), and not like I've seen in other cases, is a necessary part of how we address these challenges.

Thanks so much for that link and for your comment, Jeremy. My hope is that organizations like Desiring God and Gospel Coalition (and First Things!) will help with that as people see their willingness to be open about this and make a distinction between attractions and behavior. It's really disappointing to hear about those other cases. But as these major organizations take the lead, I think people will think more clearly about this. Our culture doesn't understand the category of a person with same-sex attractions who is celibate for the glory of God, so perhaps many in the church haven't considered the possibility, either (or been afraid that donors wouldn't consider the possibility). I think that will change.

Sam, the problem comes when one of those Christian students wants to get a higher degree at a different institution (or join a professional organization or job that requires a degree). If that other institution doesn't recognize the Christian college's accreditation, the student won't be accepted.

all the CHRISTIAN Schools that operate by Biblical standards should start their own accreditation standards for their own schools and drop the secular requirements. If GOD be for you who can be against you

"the problem comes when one of those Christian students wants to get a higher degree at a different institution"

Not to mention scholarships, transfer of units and so on. Pulling accreditation is a big deal. And, as we saw in that earlier thread on the Chronicle of Higher Education article, this is in the back of liberal minds for all Christian Colleges that maintain any statement of faith.

Some people in the other thread didn't find this troubling.

If you had what you want, how wide a swath of higher education would you exclude LGBTQ people from?

Such control over the personal lives of college students, adults above the age of 18, bothers me and I have to wonder why it seems like a good thing to all of you. These kids aren't joining a religious organisation or ministry, they're getting an education, they may not have even had the choice of where to go, why do they have to have this draconian policing of their romantic lives? What has that got to do with learning Art or German or Engineering? I remember the humiliation and the shame I felt at a Christian college because one day I made the mistake of wearing shorts (to the knee) on a hot Texas day while running on to campus to collect a book. It wasn't just that I'd contravened a dress code, it was made clear to me that I was sinning. I can only imagine how much greater the shame must be for a young gay man or woman to have to live in the kind of atmosphere and culture that these places foster. You can say it isn't about identity all you want but I could change my clothes, a gay person doesn't have that luxury.

When the rules of a college are not mere rules but anti-sinning policies, that is a bad situation.

"If Stand to Reason still has tax-exempt status in five years, I will be very, very surprised."

Why should you (STR) be exempt from paying tax?

Yeah, I do have good hopes for things to change in the future. It has really only been within the past few years that any nontrivial number of LGB/SSA Christians have been willing to speak up about their experiences. Until very recently the common wisdom has been that it is better for us to keep quiet and only talk about our experiences with select trusted others. Some of us are starting to realize that we can do more good by talking more openly, although we respect people's decisions about how open they want to be.

The reactions of conservative Christian communities to our openness have been decidedly mixed. Wesley Hill did a really good related piece earlier this year, at http://spiritualfriendship.org/2014/01/31/the-church-is-homophobic-true-or-false/

My experiences have been mostly positive. I think that a lot of Christians are wary when they just hear about people they don't know personally, although I'm hoping that our growing presence on trusted venues like you mention helps in that regard. I was really happy to see Desiring God start posting Nick's stuff, for example. So I think things are changing for the better, even if it happens more slowly than I'd like.

If you had what you want, how wide a swath of higher education would you exclude LGBTQ people from?
Who said anything about that?

Free people should be left free to make associations to transmit the knowledge, opinions, methods and techniques to the next generation without the government or entities operating as agents of the government picking winners and losers.

The only issue that the state, or an organization authorized by the state like the NEASC, should look at is

  1. Whether the university teaches coherently describable subjects.
  2. Whether the university has faculty able to effectively teach the subjects that the university offers.
  3. Whether the university has a plan for verifying that its faculty does, in fact, teach those subjects.
That way, parents and students paying the university to teach students in the disciplines that the university advertises can have some confidence that they are getting what they contracted for and not being victimized by an educational bait-and-switch (as happens all too often at nominally Christian colleges...where students and parents go to the college expecting a distinctively Christian education, but end up not getting anything of the sort.)

If you want to make a university specifically aimed at promulgating gay witchcraft, you should be free to do so, and accreditation agencies acting under the authority of the government should accredit your school if it can meet the three criteria I alluded to above. No one is forcing anyone to go to our supposed school of gay witchcraft and wizardry.

The purpose of accreditation is not to force homogeneity on the educational system. The purpose is to ensure that purchasers of educational services receive what they contract for.

Who said anything about that?

Me.

Suppose the proportion of Christian Colleges were much greater. I have to think you'd like that.

And, I assume LGBTQ people would be banned from all the true Christian colleges - the ones that don't 'bait and switch' as you put it.

Please let me know if I got either of those points wrong.

If not, I ask: Would you put any limit on how much of higher education LGBTQ people would be banned from?

Yes or no? Why or why not?

Wisdom lover, with respect, you miss the points, remade in the last two paragraphs of Mr. Erickson's 7:32 response. They are twofold, and here I will restate. First, If we indeed have a free country, then we are free to offer specific colleges with standards related to our belief systems, as we are also free to chose to attend said colleges or not. Secondly, accreditation has nothing to do with those beliefs systems and so should not be determined by them.

I am sorry...being new to this site, I misread the names associated with the comment. I direct my response to RonH, and refer to Wisdom Lover's points 8:38 response.

Me.

Suppose the proportion of Christian Colleges were much greater. I have to think you'd like that.

And, I assume LGBTQ people would be banned from all the true Christian colleges - the ones that don't 'bait and switch' as you put it.

Please let me know if I got either of those points wrong.

If not, I ask: Would you put any limit on how much of higher education LGBTQ people would be banned from?

Yes or no? Why or why not?
- See more at: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2014/10/gordon-college-will-lose-accreditation-over-behavioral-standards.html#sthash.dhbENtwj.dpuf

What an outrageous line of argumentation.

A Christian college has the right to... be a Christian college, as ridiculous as that might sound to you. If they weren't to make decisions on God's moral law, then they wouldn't be a Christian college.

And I don't actually think most people here _would_ like to see a higher proportion of Christian colleges--unless that meant of course there were far more committed Christians, in which case there wouldn't be a need for Christian colleges in the first place! If you are trying to ask for the place of LGBTQ (Oh, it's "QUILT BAG" now--get with the times; you're excluding a lot of people) in a majority conservative Christian society, well that's valid, but it's a different question now, isn't it?

The point is, if Christian colleges don't have the right to be Christian colleges, then what purpose do they have to exist at all?

Christians have a sexual ethic. And, as aforementioned, it's a few thousand years old. You don't have to like it, but it's incredibly disingenuous of you to act surprised by it.

This is a response to the original article, not any particular comment:

Do you see no merit to the argument that prohibiting a behavior which is only popular among a certain class of people is discriminatory toward that class?

"This is a response to the original article, not any particular comment:

Do you see no merit to the argument that prohibiting a behavior which is only popular among a certain class of people is discriminatory toward that class?"

That argument would only have merit to the degree that the behavior in question were not considered inherently wrong. (E.g. Oxycontin is popular primarily among rural white males. Yet substance control mechanisms are not considered "discriminatory" to my knowledge.)

Again, a great deal of confusion seems to be arising here from the fact that so many on the other side of this argument seem absolutely unable to discuss the matter without smuggling in the assumption that homosexual acts are NOT inherently sinful.

But that is the very assumption that Biblical Christians cannot accept. So the discussion gets nowhere.

Ron-

I would place no limit on the number of Christian Colleges there can be.

I gather you would like to, but that's your gig, not mine.

I would also place no limit on how few there can be and on how many gay witchcraft schools there can be. Free people should be allowed to freely associate as long as they are not associating to carry out actions that would prevent other free people and groups from performing their moral duties and privileges.

Some students and prospective students would have disagreements with many of those schools, because many would include in their charters statements similar to those at Gordon College. Just as a side note, other schools might use different peaceful means of maintaining their Christian Identity

In a free society, just as there will be all sorts of disagreements that will lead to all sorts of associations among the free members of the society, there will also be all sorts of disagreements. Some people will even refuse to associate with others.

It is not for the government, or government authorized agencies, to settle these disputes. It's neither right, nor helpful for them to do so.

If you want there to be fewer Christian universities and colleges Ron, the way to do so is to use sweet reason to win arguments so that fewer people choose to be Christian. Don't to enlist the aid of the government or its agents to jam them down.

RonH,

As you should know well by now, these rules are about behavior, not identity. No one would be banning LGBTQXYZ people from going to a school. They have behavioral standards for everyone. Sex outside of marriage is forbidden for all students.

Is it really so horrible that some people want to hold up a higher moral standard?

Do you see no merit to the argument that prohibiting a behavior which is only popular among a certain class of people is discriminatory toward that class?
Who said anything about prohibiting anything?

The position is this: Gordon College is a place you can choose to go to or not. You are completely free with regard to that. If you choose to go to Gordon College, you will be expected to follow the rules of the college. If you don't follow the rules of the college, you are free to leave and seek educational opportunities elsewhere.

I see no problem at all with this position, and in fact it is utterly absurd to imagine there would be. It would be quite impossible for there to be any college anywhere if we adopted the policy that college rules are not to be allowed if following them is not popular among a certain group of people.

You see, the argument that's being used right now against Gordon College could easily be adopted to say that Gordon College shall not have rules against cheating.

How well do you think colleges could proceed if there were no rules against cheating? What would be the value of the degree offered by the college?

Inclusive colleges that are free and open to cheating students and non-cheating students exist. There are colleges that will simply mail you your degree for a certain fee. It seems to me that these are the only colleges that are fully inclusive...since they are open both to those who study and those who don't.

Are they any good?

Should they be accredited?

If Gordon college is losing its accreditation because of its lack of inclusiveness, by what principle do the accreditors not yank accreditation from any college but the fully inclusive degree-for-fee school?

I would think that one thing accreditors should look at that actually makes a difference is not that a college is inclusive...fully inclusive colleges are, as just shown, worthless and should not be accredited. What accreditors should look at is whether the college is exclusive in a way tailored to its stated educational objective.

Here is Gordon College's Mission Statement:

Gordon College strives to graduate men and women distinguished by intellectual maturity and Christian character, committed to lives of service and prepared for leadership worldwide.
The question, the only question, accreditors should be asking is whether Gordon has mechanisms and resources in place to achieve this aim, so that parents and students who contract with Gordon get what they contracted for. It is not up to the accreditors to decide what the aim of Gordon college should be.

Accreditors aren't supposed to have their own agenda. They are supposed to be an objective third-party standing between prospective students and schools that certify that the school is providing the education that they say they provide.

Now, it seems to me, that something like Gordon College's statement of life and conduct is an important mechanism to achieving the end they express in their mission. Far from counting against their accreditation, it should be considered important for their accreditation. (That's not to say that the end couldn't be achieved in another way.)

"That argument would only have merit to the degree that the behavior in question were not considered inherently wrong. (E.g. Oxycontin is popular primarily among rural white males. Yet substance control mechanisms are not considered "discriminatory" to my knowledge.)"

I'm not so sure. If Oxycontin use were popular among rural white males to the extent homosexual sex is popular among homosexuals and anathema to non-rural-white-males to the same extent homosexual sex is anathema to heterosexuals I think we'd see prohibitions on Oxycontin abuse described as discriminatory.

In the case of Oxycontin the comparison is complicated by the fact that abuse is actually illegal. It's generally not seen as discriminatory to prohibit criminal behavior.

I'm torn on whether the criminality (or morality) of a behavior should influence whether we describe the prohibition of it as "discriminatory" if all the other relevant criteria apply. It may simply be that some forms of discrimination are desirable and completely warranted.

Another complicating factor is that, despite the existence of objective moral truth, not everyone recognizes that truth, and even folks who do recognize it often disagree on the nuances. Denny Burk, for instance, believes that same-sex attraction is inherently sinful. If he became the president of Gordon College and rewrote the requirements so as to exclude anyone who experiences same-sex attraction would you consider that to be discriminatory? Why or why not?

"Who said anything about prohibiting anything?"

Gordon College, which prohibits certain behavior among its student body. The argument is that prohibiting behaviors can be discriminatory when doing so disproportionately affects a certain class.

For instance, imagine if NotGordon College adopted a policy that no student may own or read the Bible. Reading the Bible is a behavior. Also, you can choose whether to attend NotGordon College or not; nobody's forcing you. Would you consider that policy to discriminate against Christians? I would.

"Who said anything about prohibiting anything?"

Gordon College, which prohibits certain behavior among its student body.

That's not exactly the case. As an individual, you are free to do whatever you like. Gordon won't stop you.

But they are free to say that you can't come to their school.

I suppose you could argue that Gordon College is prohibiting something.

But they are not prohibiting any sex of any kind. Instead, they are prohibiting some people from using their educational services.

They also prohibit academic cheaters, those who haven't gone through the admissions process and those who don't pay tuition from the use of their services.

NotGordon College adopted a policy that no student may own or read the Bible. Reading the Bible is a behavior. Also, you can choose whether to attend NotGordon College or not; nobody's forcing you. Would you consider that policy to discriminate against Christians?
Of course the policy discriminates, if what you mean by "discriminate" is that it treats different cases differently.

The question is whether it's anyone's business other than NotGordon college to do that. And I don't think it is. It certainly isn't the business of accreditation agencies authorized by the Department of Education.

Now, if NotGordon claimed in its Mission Statement that it would provide students with a rich education in world religions, and then adopted the no-Bible policy you describe, then the accreditors might have something to say.

Of course we're assuming that NotGordon is not a government school. I wouldn't support NotGordon's policy if the school were NotGordon campus of the California State University, nor would I support Gordon's policy if it were the Gordon College of the University of Massachusetts at Wenham.

To take punitive actions against Gordon College because of belief is a blatant violation of the 1st Amendment and Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Both guarantee the freedom of practice and expression of one's religious beliefs.

Ephesians 6:10-13

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the
strength of His might.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you
will be able to stand firm against the
schemes of the devil.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and
blood, but against the rulers, against the
powers, against the world forces of this
darkness, against the spiritual forces of
wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God,
so that you will be able to resist in the
evil day, and having done everything, to
stand firm.

I pray that Gordon College will stand firm against this onslaught from those that don't know the difference between a behavior and an orientation.

If this were a faith based Muslim institution does anyone think this subject would have even come up?

"We recognize that students at Gordon who identify as LGBTQ or experience same-sex attraction have often felt marginalized and alone, and recognize the pressing need for a safe campus environment for all students."

...and what is being done about it? ...

"But they are free to say that you can't come to their school."

Yes. They prohibit certain behaviors among their student body. They won't stop you from engaging in those behaviors, but if you do then you will cease to be a member of the student body at Gordon College.

"They also prohibit academic cheaters, those who haven't gone through the admissions process and those who don't pay tuition"

There is no overlap between those particular behaviors and specific classes of individuals. The set of "people who don't pay tuition to Gordon College" is not especially black, white, male, female, gay, straight, etc.

"Of course the policy discriminates, if what you mean by "discriminate" is that it treats different cases differently."

Why is that case "discriminatory" and not Gordon College's policy w.r.t. gay and premarital sex?

"It certainly isn't the business of accreditation agencies authorized by the Department of Education."

Are accreditation agencies authorized by the DoE or do they act as private entities? I can see the "value" of an accreditation agency that validates (among other things) its member institutions' adherence to a certain brand of non-discrimination. Who knows, maybe that's important to some people.

"If this were a faith based Muslim institution does anyone think this subject would have even come up?"

Yes.

There is a Christian accrediting body. "TRACS is recognized by both the United States Department of Education, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, as a national accrediting body for Christian institutions, colleges, universities, and seminaries." http://tracs.org/

Yes.No. They don't prohibit certain behaviors among their student body. They won't stop you from engaging in those behaviors (thus, they don't prohibit them), but if you do then you will cease to be a member of the student body at Gordon College (so what they actually prohibit, is your going to Gordon College).
FTFY
"They also prohibit academic cheaters, those who haven't gone through the admissions process and those who don't pay tuition"

There is no overlap between those particular behaviors and specific classes of individuals. The set of "people who don't pay tuition to Gordon College" is not especially black, white, male, female, gay, straight, etc.

And that's relevant how? Yes...homosexual behaviors tend to be prefered by homosexuals as a group. Of course, cheating tends to be prefered by cheaters, so I'm not sure what point you think you've made.
"Of course the policy discriminates, if what you mean by "discriminate" is that it treats different cases differently."

Why is that case "discriminatory" and not Gordon College's policy w.r.t. gay and premarital sex?

Gordon College's policy is discriminatory in exactly the same way NotGordon College's policy is...it treats different cases differently. My point was not to say that there is a big difference between Gordon and your hypothetical NotGordon. I don't think there is much difference. My point was that I don't find it especially troubling when people treat different cases differently. I'm perfectly willing to countenance 'discrimination' if what you mean is that you are going to treat different cases differently.

As a side note, I observe that there is no particular group of people, black, white, male, female, gay, straight who engage in premarital sex (except, of course, fornicators). I guess that clause is actually OK according to you?

Are accreditation agencies authorized by the DoE or do they act as private entities?
They are authorized by the DoE, at least the NEASC (the group that just yanked Gordon's accreditation) is.
I can see the "value" of an accreditation agency that validates (among other things) its member institutions' adherence to a certain brand of non-discrimination.
I'm glad to hear that you see some value in that.

Follow-up question: Why should a state authorized agency prefer your values to those of other free and equal individuals and act against those free and, not so equal after all, individuals to privilege your values over theirs?

Who knows, maybe that's important to some people.
Certainly.

Here's another follow up. When did the United States become an aristocracy where what is important to some people matters more than what is important to other people, even when those other people are engaged in activities on their own property that they force no one to go onto their property and engage in?


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.

FTFY

You're being unreasonably specific with the meaning of the "prohibit". A quick google search turned up the definition "to forbid by authority or law". Gordon is able to make "laws" that govern its students. Because Gordon isn't the state, there are limits to its ability to enforce the rules it makes for its students. For instance, the worst it can do is expel someone. That doesn't change the fact that it is "forbidding by authority" certain behaviors among its students.

I don't say this with any particular negative connotation. Every university or college prohibits certain behaviors. Cheating is one you've already pointed out. Though, one could argue cheating does damage to a university's educational mission in a way certain other behavior's don't.

And that's relevant how?

Legally speaking it's relevant because "cheaters" are nowhere a protected class. In terms of disparate impact, anybody could potentially be a cheater. Only individuals who experience same-sex attraction are likely to engage in homosexual sex.

I'll grant that this doesn't apply to the premarital sex ban. I'd be curious to know what the agency's objection to that policy was, since it can't really be construed as discriminatory to any particular class of individual.


Gordon College's policy is discriminatory in exactly the same way NotGordon College's policy is

Good. That's all I wanted to establish. Other comments have advanced the idea that Gordon isn't discriminatory toward individuals who experience same-sex attraction because it doesn't ban same-sex attraction per se, but only gay sex.

I guess that clause is actually OK according to you?

I actually haven't voiced an opinion on either of Gordon's policies, so you shouldn't assume I'm "not OK" with them. In terms of being discriminatory toward a protected class, the only way I could see the premarital sex ban being criticized on those terms is to argue that it creates a special burden on single people relative to married people. So I suppose it could be viewed as discriminating on the basis of marital status.

They are authorized by the DoE, at least the NEASC is.

Does the DoE publish its requirements for authorizing accreditation agencies? My first thought is, "Why is the DoE even authorizing these agencies?"

My feeling is that the agencies, as private entities, should be able to use whatever criteria they choose. If an agency wants to only accredit universities that require their students to abide by sharia law then that's its prerogative. I think that's a dumb thing to require for accreditation, but if there are enough people who care about that then, in theory, universities might seek out accreditation from that agency.

I'm glad to hear that you see some value in that.

That was poorly written on my part. I don't personally see the value in that criterion for accreditation; I just meant that I can understand how other people might value it, and why a university might value being accredited by an agency that has "doesn't discriminate" among its criteria for accreditation.

Follow-up question: Why should a state authorized agency prefer your values to those of other free and equal individuals and act against those free and, not so equal after all, individuals to privilege your values over theirs?

It shouldn't prefer my values. I question whether "state authorized" should imply what you feel it should imply, i.e. that the accreditation agencies should be "values neutral". My ideal would be no state authorization at all; let the "market" decide which agencies sink and which swim. If an agency starts using criteria nobody values then universities will stop seeking its accreditation. If there is going to be state authorization, though, I'd prefer the criteria for authorization be well-defined. If those criteria stipulated that authorized agencies must be values neutral and only base accreditation on academic concerns then I'd support revoking NEASC's authorization.

When did the United States become an aristocracy where what is important to some people matters more than what is important to other people, even when those other people are engaged in activities on their own property that they force no one to go onto their property and engage in?

Possibly 1964. The Civil Rights Act created a legal framework in which what is important to some people (an individual's ability to be a full economic participant without respect to race, sex or religion) was deemed to trump was was important to other people (right to discrimination on the basis of race, sex or religion) even when those other people were engaged in activities on their property (running a business) that they forced no one to go onto their property and engage in.

In the case of Gordon college no such force was applied. We're not talking about the state telling Gordon college it can't have those policies. We're talking about an independent accreditation agency whose accreditation Gordon College voluntarily seeks communicating that, in order to gain that accreditation, Gordon must drop its policies. In the same way Gordon doesn't force anyone to be one of its students the NEASC doesn't force anyone to seek its accreditation. They're not the only accreditation game in town; if you don't like their criteria then go get accredited by someone else.

buddyglass,

I'll grant that this doesn't apply to the premarital sex ban. I'd be curious to know what the agency's objection to that policy was, since it can't really be construed as discriminatory to any particular class of individual.

What about nymphomaniacs?

What about nymphomaniacs?
This group probably has difficulty whether they're married or not. So, discriminating against nymphomaniacs wouldn't disproportionately affect singles vs. marrieds.
You're being unreasonably specific with the meaning of the "prohibit".
No. I think I'm drilling down to exactly what they do prohibit: attending Gordon college.

But this is a less important point, so let's leave it to one side for the moment.

one could argue cheating does damage to a university's educational mission in a way certain other behavior's don't.
Since Gordon's educational mission is clearly spelled out (accreditation agencies always require that), and since it includes the development of Christian character, the life and conduct statement is also crucial to its educational mission.
Legally speaking it's relevant because "cheaters" are nowhere a protected class. In terms of disparate impact, anybody could potentially be a cheater. Only individuals who experience same-sex attraction are likely to engage in homosexual sex.
Why shouldn't cheaters be a protected class? I might point out that only people who experience grade anxiety are likely to engage in cheating. Underachievers are seldom cheaters. They just take their C in stride on the way to the campus pub.
I'll grant that this doesn't apply to the premarital sex ban. I'd be curious to know what the agency's objection to that policy was, since it can't really be construed as discriminatory to any particular class of individual.
Of course it is, it is discriminatory to fornicators. The point is that the class being 'discriminated against' is defined by its behavior. But we have to 'discriminate against' all sorts of classes of people where the class is defined by the behavior of its members. And the fact that there might be overlap with other classes not defined by the behavior of its members, but by some genetic factor is entirely beside the point. Violent criminals are overwhelmingly men, it does not follow that laws against violence are sexist.
My feeling is that the agencies, as private entities, should be able to use whatever criteria they choose. If an agency wants to only accredit universities that require their students to abide by sharia law then that's its prerogative.
So you are willing to allow government authorized entities, like accreditation boards, lots of freedom to maintain their institutional identities, but you are not willing to extend the same tolerance toward the less powerful small colleges they affect.
I question whether "state authorized" should imply what you feel it should imply, i.e. that the accreditation agencies should be "values neutral".
The point of accreditation is to assure prospective students and their parents that the school is what it claims to be. Not to force schools to be something that the accreditors like. That's the point of accreditation with or without government authorization. And to do it well requires acting in as close to a values-neutral way as possible (I grant that pure values neutrality is impossible). You add the authorization of the government into the mix and that rule of prudence becomes a matter of justice. The government should not be authorizing accreditation boards that favor one set of religious beliefs over another.
Possibly 1964.
I don't think that the Civil Rights Act is analogous. Again, the so-called discrimination is based on a behavior, not the color of skin.

There are only a few forms of discrimination based on behavior that are explicitly limited by the Constitution (in its amendments). They are discrimination based on: religious behavior, speech (both oral and printed) and association. But these are precisely what's getting stepped on in the case of Gordon College. Gordon can't have the statement of life an conduct it has, even though that statement is informed by its religious vision and is meant to apply only to people who freely choose to associate with the college.

Now some points of agreement.

We probably agree that the DoE shouldn't even be in the business of authorizing accreditation boards. Maybe we'd be better off if the boards were rated, the same way the schools they accredit are, by U.S. News, Consumer Reports or other journals.

We also agree about this:

They're (the NEASC are) not the only accreditation game in town; if you don't like their criteria then go get accredited by someone else.
What concerns me is that if one government authorized agency can get away with this, what is to stop the rest?

Buddyglass,

On cheaters you wrote:

Legally speaking it's relevant because "cheaters" are nowhere a protected class.

On premarital sex I wrote:

What about nymphomaniacs?

You wrote:

This group probably has difficulty whether they're married or not. So, discriminating against nymphomaniacs wouldn't disproportionately affect singles vs. marrieds.

So let me get this straight…for someone to be part of a “class” one has to be disproportionately affected as it relates to being married vs. single?

How do you keep all this garbage straight?

I am personally glad this is happening to this school. The college's medieval ways are so far stuck in the past it is ridiculous. Not allowing the opposite sex in a dorm room with the door closed, not allowing homosexual behavior, the list goes on. While there are many students attending Gordon College that have to hide their true selves because of judgement they will receive if people know that they are homosexual. This school's policy's disgust me and without change they should (and will) lose their accreditation which will drastically affect the school and cause future students to think twice about attending.

Student-

Do you attend Gordon College?

If not, why do you care so much? The people who go there do so freely. Why do you feel the need to force your morality on them?

If you do go there, and you find their policies so offensive, why did you go there in the first place? And why don't you just leave? Again, why do you feel the need to force your morality on that community?

If their policies are so awful won't natural market forces serve as a better corrective than any accreditation shenanigans. After all, as many posters have pointed out, there are other accreditation boards. Gordon can be accredited by one of the other boards. (I'd frankly be surprised to find out that they haven't already begun moves to be accredited by another board.) But if students stop going because the policies are so bad, then the school will go under. Right?

Many have commented that Gordon College can simply seek accreditation from another agency. This is correct, of course; there are other accrediting bodies that are recognized by either the USDoE or CHEA. But the standard for accreditation in the US for established, liberal arts colleges and universities has long been regional accreditation. Small Bible colleges are often accredited by ABHE, purely distance education schools by DETC, and schools with very new and innovative approaches by TRACS. Despite the fact there are some wonderful schools accredited by these agencies, they are commonly perceived as a significant step down from regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is the gold standard in US higher education, again particularly for liberal arts colleges and universities. When it comes to regional accreditation, there is only one agency per region. So, in that sense, for Gordon College NEASC is the only game in town.

Because this is the expected standard for liberal arts colleges to be accredited (including religious ones), this decision is a very big deal. This accrediting agency is imposing blatantly non-Christian views on a school with a clearly articulated Christian identity. This is political correctness run amuck. If allowed to stand, this sets an alarming and dangerous precedent for everyone (not just Christians). It's relegating consistently Christian colleges (and any others who disagrees with the current Big Brother) to an educational ghetto outside of the accepted standards of US liberal arts education. I'm not sure what kind of appeal process they have, but I would be quite surprised if we don't see a concerted effort to oppose this incredibly flawed decision, possibly even including schools that are not evangelical.

Curt-

Thanks for that. What I'm wondering is that if this will be the callous disregard for objectivity that we see from the NEASC, should they be considered the gold standard anymore? We see the lengths to which they are willing to go to in preventing accreditation because of their own agenda. How much have they glossed over in sub-standard schools that support their agenda?

Gordon College is located in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriages have been legal for 10 years. So their REAL policy is that they are only recognizing some marriages and they are selectively picking and choosing which marriages they recognize.

You can argue that only those marriages performed in a Christian church are recognized, but many of those same-sex marriages are performed in Christian churches.

So the argument comes down to which Christian churches are "Christian enough" for the college to recognize marriages performed in them. A very bad idea.

If it's accreditation you have an issue with, any institution of higher learning without accreditation has the problem of their degrees being worthless.

[Saw the following web piece. Any reactions?]

USA - from Puritans to Impure-itans

Is there a connection between beautiful New England and entire American cities turned into smoking rubble? There is.
Take same-sex marriage. I would have guessed that a "sin" city (San Francisco? Las Vegas?) would have been the first to legalize it.
Oddly it's been the place where America started that's wanted to be the first place to help bring about the end of America and its values! It's been a Nor'easter of Perversion (helping to fulfill the end time "days of Lot" predicted in Luke 17) that began in (you guessed it) Boston in 2004.
New England has gone from the Mayflower Compact to the Gay Power Impact, from Providence to decadence, from Bible thumpers to God dumpers, from university to diversity to perversity, and from the land of the Great Awakening to God's Future Shakening that will make the Boston bombings look like Walden Pond ripples by comparison!
The same Nor'easter has been spreading south and as far west as Washington State where, after swelling up with pride, Mt. Rainier may wish to celebrate shame-sex marriage by having a blast that Seaddlepated folks can share in lava-land!
The same Luke 17 prediction is tied to the Book of Revelation which speaks of the cities that God will flatten because of same-sexism - including American cities - a scenario I'll have to accept since I can't create my own universe and decree rules for it.
I've just been analyzing the world's terminal "religion" that has its "god," its accessories, its "rites," and even a flag. It's an obsession that the infected converts are willing to live for, fight for - and even die for!
Want more facts? Google "God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up," "Universal GAYety is Coming," "FOR GAYS ONLY: Jesus predicted," " 'Jesus Never Mentioned Homosexuality' - When Gays Have Birthdays...," "Harvey Milk Stamped 'Out' Forever" and "The Background Obama Can't Cover Up."

Gordon College is located in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriages have been legal for 10 years. So their REAL policy is that they are only recognizing some marriages and they are selectively picking and choosing which marriages they recognize.
No. Their REAL policy is just what is stated in their life and conduct statement, which predates the judicial jam-down that legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

WL,

Sorry for the late response. It certainly could go that way. What I think more likely is that regional accreditation would continue to be perceived by the culture at large as the gold standard for higher education, and consistently Christian schools would be viewed as a special niche, one that is not up to "accepted" standards. I think actions such as that of NEASC could actually accelerate such a perception if not strongly opposed now.

With the witch hunt mentality we're seeing concerning any opposition to same-sex "marriage," we could reach a point where public universities face the PC wrath if they accept students from non-regionally accredited (i.e. conservative Christian) schools into their grad programs, etc. I'm not saying this is inevitable, but taking into consideration the changes in the cultural landscape the last few years, it's easy to see how this could happen fairly easily and relatively quickly.

The comments to this entry are closed.