From: James Trimm <jstrimm@h...>
Date: Sat Sep 16, 2000 9:51
Subject: Government Control of Texas Seminaries?
Government Control of Texas Seminaries?
By Candi Cushman
April 6, 1999
As The Heritage went to press, lawyers representing the Texas state
government and the
Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute were going head-to-head to determine
whether or not the state has control over Texas seminaries.
Arguments from both sides of the case were being heard in the Travis County
Court building in Austin.
At issue is the question of whether the state has the right to control
seminary course content and determine which seminaries can issue
Three Texas seminaries filed suit earlier this year after the Texas Higher
Education Coordinating Board slapped the Fort Worth-based Tyndale
Theological Seminary with a $173,000 fine. Without any prior warning, the
seminary received notice that it would be fined as punishment for issuing
theological degrees without a certificate of authority from the state.
"I was completely shocked that the State of Texas has such control over
Christian schools," said Tyndale's president, Dr. Mal Couch, a native Texan
and long-term resident of the state. "I thought I was living in a state
that had more religious freedoms than other states in the country."
"It's an incredible intrusion of the government into church affairs," said
Kelly Shackelford, who is arguing on behalf of the seminaries as chief
counsel of the Liberty Legal Institute. "If
successful, the state would control all seminaries, and thus ultimately
dictate the education of the pastors of all Texas churches."
The Hispanic Bible Institute and the Southern Bible Institute have also
joined the suit. "We lose students all the time because we cannot give out
degrees," said Dr. Gordon Mumford, president of the Southern Bible
Institute, which was founded in 1971 as an outreach to black students.
"This is a serious violation of separation of church and state," added
Shackelford. "We will
certainly not stand idly by, but will fight this to the very end."
The Liberty Legal Institute is a legal organization specializing in the
defense of religious freedom and First Amendment rights.
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NOTE: The issue is still in court. The next hearing will be in November.
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