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Patrick Henry College: Discrimination vs. Accreditation

  • 2002 5 May
  • COMMENTS
Patrick Henry College: Discrimination vs. Accreditation

College Will Appeal Discriminatory Ruling

Patrick Henry College announced today that it has filed an appeal from a decision of the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) to deny its accreditation solely because it requires its faculty to adhere to a Statement of Biblical Worldview. AALE singled out PHC's view on creation for special criticism.

The College received the AALE denial on Friday, May 3.

AALE quoted the Patrick Henry College standard on biblical creation and then concluded, "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."

"Patrick Henry College believes that it is important to teach our students about evolution," the college's president, Michael Farris, replied, "but we simply teach more. We teach that creation is true, not just as a matter of faith but as a matter of science."

Patrick Henry's appeal contends that the denial should be reversed because it is factually wrong and tainted with religious discrimination.

"AALE was wrong on two counts," Farris continued. "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," Farris added. "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."

"AALE has engaged in blatant viewpoint discrimination. They have granted the same accreditation status we were seeking to a college which subscribes to the tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS)," Farris said. "Southern Virginia University requires both its faculty and students to refrain from ever disagreeing with the tenets of the LDS church. AALE found that restriction on academic freedom acceptable but requiring our faculty to subscribe to our Statement of Biblical Worldview was unacceptable. Both are restrictions on an absolutist view of academic freedom. Yet, the LDS restrictions are acceptable while the evangelical Christian views are not. We do not quarrel at all with the right of Southern Virginia University to hold to its views. We simply cannot understand why AALE has singled out our evangelical Christian viewpoint for particularized discrimination."

Patrick Henry College's appeal is based, in part, on the religious discrimination that was the basis of the denial.

Patrick Henry College is a non-denominational, evangelical Christian liberal arts college that has attracted substantial national and international media attention because of its unique link to the home schooling community. Approximately 98 percent of the PHC students were home schooled.

PHC has been recognized early on for attracting an outstanding student body. The average SAT score for next year's incoming class is approximately 1300.

Patrick Henry's debate team has won many awards including a double national championship at this year's NEDA national college tournament. PHC students won the championship in both the novice division and open (senior) division.

Patrick Henry College students also placed third in the nation at the National Undergraduate Moot Court Competition held in January at the University of Texas at Arlington.

In its second year of operation, PHC has 150 students from over 30 states. It blends a classical approach with apprenticeship methodology to provide a unique experience in academics. It is the only evangelical Christian liberal arts college in the Washington, D.C. area.

"Our mission is to train those who will lead our nation and shape our culture. We will not yield to those who believe that those who believe that God is our creator should be excluded from the highest levels of academics or national leadership," Farris concluded. "AALE chose the wrong college to pick on if they think that we will give up without a fight. We are training our students to stand for the truth. How can we do less?"

Mike Farris is the president of Patrick Henry College (www.phc.edu) and chairman of the board of Home School Legal Defense Association (www.hslda.org).