Having accreditation is a big deal to a college. If a college does not have accreditation, students cannot transfer credits from that college elsewhere. Graduate schools and employers are likely to consider a degree from that college to be worthless. Students cannot take National Merit scholarships to that college. Students cannot get student loans or grants to go there. A non-accredited college is worse than a second class citizen in the world of higher education. A degree from such a school may well be considered worse than useless, at least for many purposes.
The threat of losing accreditation is therefore also an extremely big deal.
Now, the zero-sum game moves up to a new level: Christian colleges may start to lose their accreditation with regional accrediting agencies, and one college almost certainly will, if they refuse to allow their faculty and students to engage in homosexual sex acts.
Yep. That's what I said. The moral behavioral standards that, whether consistently enforced or not, are on the books at most remotely serious Christian colleges in the country now present a risk of loss of accreditation.
The attack is beginning with Gordon College in Connecticut. The regional accrediting agency, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, has given Gordon a year to back down on its policy that disallows "homosexual practice." The agency graciously allowed this grace period because Gordon said it would form a "working group" to (re)consider its policy.
Gordon was "outed" when its president signed a statement asking the U.S. government to exempt Christian colleges from an executive order that requires federal contractors not to discriminate on the basis of "sexual orientation." (The concept of "sexual orientation," for you non-initiates, is not confined in such legal contexts to the mere urge to have homosxual sex. It also includes actually doing so.) The college was reported to the accrediting body and has now been given a year to recant.
They may do so. A representative says that he believes the committee will consider that option--scrapping the policy altogether. The mind boggles: Will heterosexual fornication also then be allowed, or will only homosexuals be allowed to fornicate? Since Connecticut has homosexual "marriage" on the books, will homosexuals among Gordon's faculty and students be allowed to have sexual relations only if they obtain a "marriage" license, thus making Gordon entirely on-board in its policies with the charade of homosexual "marriage"? If Gordon has married student dorms, will homosexual couples have to be allowed to live in them? What about heterosexual adultery? If Gordon removes this particular "discriminatory" policy, will it have to allow all sexual sin? Oh, here's a good one: If the "discriminatory" policy against homosexual practice is scrapped, and if Gordon recognizes homosexual "marriage," will it be able to fire a male faculty member if he is "married" to another man and then has an on-going sexual relationship with another other man? Gosh, this business of non-discrimination gets really complicated, doesn't it?
It's to be hoped that Gordon will not cave. But one wants to know why they formed the working group instead of telling the NEASC to take its accreditation and...go pound sand. Perhaps they are hoping Jesus will return or the world will end in the next year and the whole thing will become moot.
Then again, there is this disturbing note: "[S]ome of the faculty members on the working group have been vocally opposed to Gordon College’s life and conduct policy." Wait, so Gordon, while having this policy and while having a president sufficiently bold to uphold it publicly, has faculty who openly support the morality of homosexual practice and oppose the policy? How did that happen? Don't Gordon faculty have to sign a statement of faith, and isn't there anything on it about this extremely urgent contemporary moral issue? How did they end up with this loud-mothed fifth column, all ready and waiting to be put on a "working group" when the accrediting agency put the screws on?
I should pause here and give credit where it is due: Gordon has in fact been standing up for its policy for some time now, under quite a lot of pressure. The college lost a contract that allowed it to use the Salem Old Town Hall. (Yes, the irony is pretty striking: This is a new witch hunt.) The college's student teachers have been barred from doing apprenticeships in at least some local public school districts because of the "discriminatory" policy.
Gordon didn't give up its policy in response to those punishments, so maybe it will stand firm now. But a regional accrediting agency definitely counts as the big guns. What Gordon should be doing as fast as possible is not forming a committee to ponder the policy (i.e., to ponder possibly ditching it) but rather finding an alternative accreditation route ASAP. I suggest they consider TRACS instead. It is the body that accredits Patrick Henry College. Last I checked (but don't quote me on this) TRACS still had some prestige drawbacks vis a vis a regional agency. The regional agencies are the "gold standard." I seem to recall that one can't take a National Merit scholarship at a school that does not have regional accreditation. But TRACS accreditation is recognized by the DOE, and there are definitely colleges that will transfer its credits.
How all of that cashes out with regard to teacher accreditation for education programs I don't know, but there are these verses about gaining the whole world and losing one's soul, so one's teacher accreditation program seems like pretty small potatoes in that context.
I do not wish to kick Gordon College while it's down, but I want to point out some things here about the attempt to play ball with the homosexual activists and the zero-sum game. Here is a part of a statement Gordon issued previously in defense of its policy (emphasis added):
In our statement of faith and conduct we affirm God’s creation of marriage, first described in Genesis, as the intended lifelong one-flesh union of one man and one woman. Along with this positive affirmation of marriage as a male-female union, there are clear prohibitions in the Scriptures against sexual relations between persons of the same sex.
It is important to note that the Gordon statement of faith and conduct does not reference same-sex orientation—that is, the state of being a person who experiences same-sex attraction—but rather, specifically, homosexual acts. The Gordon community is expected to refrain from any sexual intercourse—heterosexual or homosexual; premarital or extramarital—outside of the marriage covenant. There is currently much debate among Christians about the nature and causes of homosexuality, and about a faithful Christian response to same-sex attractions, but we acknowledge that we are all sinners in need of grace, all called to redeemed humanity in Christ.
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.
Notice anything? Yeah, that stuff. Um. First of all, what's with the alphabet soup? Gotta even get that "Q" in there. Does the author of the statement really have some deep meaning in mind for the difference between "queer" (or is it "questioning") and all the others? And what about that "T"? Does Gordon really welcome with open arms biological men who "identify" as women? Does it house them in its women's dorms? Does the act-orientation distinction even apply at all to "transgenders," whose entire identity-forming mechanism turns around how they present themselves to other people and whether or not other people play along with their confusion? Have Christians who unthinkingly mouth both the alphabet soup and the act-orientation distinction even thought about how it could possibly apply to the transgender movement?
Then there's the ritual breast-beating about how "marginalized" these people have felt. Then there's the code phrase "safe campus environment." If you have been breathing and watching the education world for the past ten years you know that "safe" is code for "accepting of open and proud homosexuality."
Now perhaps we know how it happened that Gordon has a faculty fifth column and doubtless loudly dissenting students as well (one of whom appears to be on the committee looking into the policy, though the student's position on the issue is my inference). They didn't understand the zero-sum game. They thought if they made a big deal about the act-orientation distinction, beat their breasts a bit about not "marginalizing" the poor, poor homosexuals, ignored all the problems raised for campus life in residential dorms from "not discriminating" on the basis of a desire to have sex with your roommate (who might prefer not to have a roommate who desires to have sex with him), and used the right code-words to show themselves kind and friendly to homosexuals, they would be left alone, not pressed further, and allowed to keep their policy of not officially endorsing homosexual sex acts.
That's not how it works, though, is it? Meanwhile, all that friendliness was bringing the Trojan horse within the gates.
It's time for Christians and Christian institutions to wise up and to toughen up. They will not leave you alone. So decide what is really right, really wise, and really true and then stick to that. Don't use code phrases. Don't try to be gay-friendly. Don't tailor your policies or even, for that matter, your rhetoric, in a hope of being thought moderate. Don't hire people for your Christian institution who are not on board with your actual policies. Be willing to be thought mean. Get a thick skin. Because they hate you. They are going to hate you until you are no longer recognizably Christian at all. So decide right now that you aren't going to give in at all. You might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. Lean hard on your Christian institutional status (if you have it), make use of the alternative structures (such as alternative accrediting agencies) that have been set up precisely for those who don't follow the zeitgeist, and be willing to be despised and hounded. Because it's going to happen anyway until you give them every last thing they want.
That is the zero-sum game. If you don't get it now, you probably never will.
The heat will be on many, many Christian colleges if other regional accrediting bodies follow the example of the NEASC. A great many Christian colleges, some of them quite conservative, have regional accreditation and have managed thus far to tiptoe through the various minefields and keep their accreditation while keeping their Christian identity. But this will be a make or break issue. Other colleges need to be getting ready to resist, getting other accreditation as backup, and making contingency plans.
Our prayers should be with the principled people who remain at Gordon College.