Patrick Henry College, a nondenominational Christian college founded two years ago in Virginia, USA, has been denied accreditation simply because it requires biology teachers to teach that Creation took place in six 24-hour days. Michael Farris, president of the school, says the decision took the school by “total surprise.”
The American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) notified the school about its decision in a letter postmarked 30 April. The letter cited only one specific “issue” to justify its decision: biology teachers are required to believe/teach Creation.
According to the letter, the college’s requirement violates two AALE standards. First, it violates “liberty of thought and freedom of speech.” Second, it violates a requirement that students receive “a basic knowledge of mathematics and the physical and biological sciences.”
How is it possible that a private organization can wield such power over a Christian school? The US government does not accredit schools directly, but the US Department of Education has approved a handful of so-called “voluntary” organizations that have set up their own accreditation standards. Until recently, these organizations had only regional influence. But in 1995, AALE became the first national organization to accredit undergraduate liberal arts institutions.
Colleges do not have to seek accreditation from any of these organizations. They simply need to apply to their respective states for the authority to award diplomas. If they wish, the schools can also seek accreditation from the various accrediting organizations. Patrick Henry College, for example, has already received approval from the State of Virginia to award diplomas, and it is now pursuing accreditation by the regional Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Although accrediting organizations are “voluntary,” they wield tremendous power. Schools must be accredited in order for their students to receive financial assistance from the federal government, and many graduate schools will not accept students unless they have degrees from accredited undergraduate schools.
AALE was very specific about its reason for rejecting Patrick Henry College’s application. Teachers are required to affirm the following section of the college’s “Statement of Biblical Worldview” [pdf format]:
Creation. Any biology, Bible, or other courses at PHC dealing with creation will teach creationism from the understanding of Scripture that God’s creative work, as described in Genesis 1:2-31, was completed in six 24-hour days. All faculty for such courses will be chosen on the basis of their personal adherence to this view. PHC does not intend to limit biblically-based discussion of this issue; provided, however, that evolution, “theistic” or otherwise, will not be treated as an acceptable theory.
After quoting this paragraph in its entirety, the AALE letter explains why the requirement is so offensive: “The portion of the “Statement of Biblical Worldview” quoted above appears to restrict curriculum content and teaching to a degree that inhibits the acquisition of basic knowledge.”1
The college has decided to appeal the decision. In a registered letter postmarked 8 May 2002, the school gives several reasons why it thinks that the AALE has been heavy-handed.2 The letter claims that
In a news release, Michael Farris put his finger on more fundamental problems:
AALE was wrong on two counts. First, they are wrong in their conclusion that we do not teach about evolution. We do. But, honest science shows that it is simply an untenable theory. They were also wrong when they assert that believing and teaching creationism inhibits the acquisition of basic knowledge. Look at the facts carefully and it becomes apparent that the problem is not what our students know, rather it is about what our faculty and students believe.
AALE’s decision was shocking in several respects. They claim we violate their standards on freedom of thought-yet, that is the essence of their own decision-they are denying PHC its freedom to think, believe, and speak differently from the norm of academia. One would think that having diverse views among colleges would somehow fit into an age that worships at the ‘temple of diversity’ but true diversity is not tolerated.3
Farris also noted AALE’s blatant religious discrimination. It has been willing to accredit another religious school, Southern Virginia University, even though it requires its faculty and students to accept all the tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon church). Yet the AALE has refused to allow Patrick Henry College any leeway on its evangelical beliefs.
This incident is yet another indication that “six-day Creation” is at the forefront of the battle for intellectual, educational and religious freedom in the world today. Evolutionary elitists, who control educational and political machinery in various countries, are bent on demolishing any effort to proclaim the full authority of the Bible. Amazingly, they bludgeon religious schools in the name of “open inquiry.”
Jeffrey Wallin, president of AALE, even claims that he has no problem with schools teaching creationism, as long as it’s relegated to theology classes: “We have religious schools that are members of our organization that teach creationism, but they teach it in the theology department; they don’t teach it in the science department.”4 He seems to have missed the irony of his views. AALE was founded to encourage schools to move away from modern fads and to teach a more rigorous, traditional curriculum. Patrick Henry College met all of AALE’s rigorous standards-but it violated an unstated modern dogma, that evolution must be taught as fact.
Michael Farris is an outstanding leader in the homeschool movement, and he has strongly supported AiG’s effort to proclaim the message of Biblical authority. Just a couple of years ago, Mr Farris invited Ken Ham, president of AiG-US, to be the keynote speaker at a national homeschool conference in Tucson, Arizona.
“There are so few Christian colleges that take such a bold stand on Creation and a literal Genesis, as Patrick Henry College does,” Ken Ham believes. “Answers in Genesis applauds their stand, and we support them and encourage them in what they’re doing, and we’ll be praying for them during this time. In the current climate, it’s not surprising to see belief in Creation vehemently attacked, and this incident should serve as a warning to the church about where society is heading.”
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