Recall this (Ms Tabachnick's) article's first paragraph:
Max Myers spent the last six years as the head of the Global School of Supernatural Ministry (GSSM) of the Apostolic Network of Global Awakening (ANGA). ANGA is led by internationally known apostle, Randy Clark, and includes the regional Wagner Leadership Institute (WLI) and GSSM housed in the Apostolic Resource Center in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, a few miles from the state capitol.
For whatever it's worth, some of these entities, which claim to be schools of some kind, fail the credibility test -- and, in fact, seem degree-millish
-- on account of their accreditation claims.
In the US, educational accreditation is something ultimately controlled by the US Department of Education (USDE), and the USDE-sanctioned Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). USDE and CHEA do not directly accredit, but they approve all educational accreditors. No entity, in fact, may legitimately call itself an educational accreditor in the US unless it is approved by either or both of USDE and/or CHEA.
The exception could be an entity intending on becoming a USDE- and/or CHEA-approved accreditor that's so new that it hasn't yet been in business long enough, nor has it accredited enough schools, that it can even apply
, yet, for either or both of USDE and/or CHEA approval; however, any such entity would nevertheless have a verifiable relationship with either or both of USDE and/or CHEA, and would, in any case, be operating entirely pursuant to its standards, just the same as if it were already approved by either or both of them.
For a US school to be accredited, then, as we, in the US, understand that term, its accreditor must
be either or both of USDE- and/or CHEA-approved. Period. Nothing else counts.
I have argued in many places that so potent, in the mind of a degree-seeker wishing not to be scammed by degree mills, is the word "accredit," that it, and all of its derivations apropos education, should be protected
in the same manner as is the word "lawyer" or the phrase "attorney at law" is protected in the sense that to call oneself either of those things, unless one is actually a member-in-good-standing of at least one US state's bar, is a crime, punishable by fine, restitution (if any), and not-insignificant prison time. I have many times thought about undertaking the arduous and likely years-long task of getting passed either a federal statute, or one in each state, which codifies the foregoing into law.
So, then, keep all of that in mind as you continue reading...
The so-called "accreditation" page
on the Global School of Supernatural Ministry (GSSM) website contains the following language:
GSSM is not an accredited, degree granting educational institution. There are though, three schools that will give credit for work completed at GSSM. The first is the Wagner Leadership Institute: Global Awakening (WLI). The second is the South African Theological Seminary (SATS). The third is Christian Leadership University (CLU). South African Theological Seminary and Christian Leadership University are both accredited institutions. Please see their websites for more information.
GSSM neither claims that it, or WLI, are accredited; and since neither of them actually are
, then so far, so good. GSSM's "is not an accredited, degree granting educational institution" language is carefully-worded legalese to keep it out of trouble with the State of Pennsylvania, which has the arguably toughest state standards for what can and can't call itself a school or degree-granting college or university.
Example: ITT Tech
is, finally, regionally accredited, yet it still cannot offer bachelors degrees at any of its locations in the state of Pennsylvania... the only US state in which it is so restricted; and it must even say
so, in small print, in all of its advertising. Pennsylvania's higher education department is, then, not
to be messed with!
claim, though, that SATS is accredited; and, as it turns out, it is... even as we, in the US, understand that term. SATS is accredited by South Africa's Council on Higher Education (CHE), the Education and Training Quality Assurer (ETQA) of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA); and SATS is registered with the South African Department of Education... all impressive things.
As someone who does higher educational consulting, one of whose areas of expertise is accreditation, I can attest that SAT's accreditation is on-par that of the US's; and that US foreign educational credential evaluators, such as AACRAO
, or any NACES member agency
, routinely declare a SATS degree as being on-par with one issued by a US regionally accredited
, or ATS-accredited
, seminary (both of which types of accreditation are both USDE- and CHEA-approved); and both of which types of foreign educational credential evaluations are routinely accepted by US employers; and by the US government for employment or sometimes even professional licensure purposes; and also by US colleges, universities and seminaries (whose accreditors are USDE- and/or CHEA-approved) for virtually all purposes, including professorship, or as requisite for entry into higher-level degree programs. SATS, then, is on the level.
CLU, though, is not; and though CLU admits, in the Government Accreditation section
of its completely laughable "accreditation" page
, that its so-called accreditor is not USDE-approved, what it does
say on that page is very similar to the kind of intentionally-misleading nonsense and rhetorical sleight-of-hand that we tend to see on degree mill websites.
The CLU website's accreditation page's so-called "CLU Accreditation" section
claims "accreditation" (and it uses that word which I argue should be protected such that its misuse, like CLU is doing, here, should be criminally prosecutable; and so around which I have placed quotes, as commentary) by Christian Accreditation International (CAI); and "certification" (whatever that even means
when it's proffered in an "accrediation" section on an "accreditation" webpage) by the Apostolic Council for Educational Accountability (ACEA), neither of which are accreditors approved by either USDE or CHEA; and so they're not really accreditors, no matter what they claim. Furthermore, ACEA... er... hey... wait
...will you just look
at that: ACEA was started by C. Peter Wagner, of WLI.
So, then, welcome, reader, to my world of anti-degree-mill and anti-bogus-accreditor activism. Incidiously- and incestuously-circular relationships that are prima facie conflicts of interest -- and which bear what lawyers learn in their preparation for the ethics either separate exam, or part of the bar exam (depending on the state), is not only the appearance
of impropriety but, worse, is its very definition -- are extraordinarily
common among the mills... especially the religious ones, like CLU.
But it gets worse. Continuing, arrogantly, from the "Government Accreditation" section of its website's "accreditation" webpage:
Accreditation is "a review by your peers" that ensures that you are offering a quality program. CLU has received that. CLU's peers are other Spirit-filled Christian educators, such as C. Peter Wagner's Apostolic Council for Educational Accountability and Christian Accreditation International. The U.S. Department of Education is not a peer of Christian Leadership University.
Government-recognized accreditation is not necessary for the religious vocations we are training people in, which include: Biblical Studies, Christian Arts, Christian Counseling, Christian Entrepreneurship, Christian Leadership, Divine Healing, Divinity, Intercession, Ministry, Missions and Evangelism, Prophetic Ministry, Theology, Worship Ministry, and Youth Ministry. People can function and hold jobs in all of these areas without government-recognized accreditation.
Individuals seeking employment in government-licensed positions such as public school teachers, state-licensed psychologists or psychiatrists, and non-church-related counselors definitely need government-recognized accredited degrees. Generally, people working in ministry positions do not need a government-accredited degree. In fact, a number of churches take a stand against the Church voluntarily placing itself under government regulations.
We believe that our standards exceed those of the government...
Well, of course, anyone who understands accreditation knows that it's not an assurance of maximal or optimal standards of quality. Rather, it's an assurance of standards below
which the school, by its accreditation, is guaranteed not to have descended, yet still have its credits transferable to other accredited schools, or its finished degrees be requisite for entry into higher-level degree programs at said other accredited schools.
Lots of accredited schools' standards exceed those of government -- Harvard and/or Yale, for example, just to name two; there are many
others -- yet they still honor accreditation, and would never do business without it. One proof that accrediation is a minmal, and not a maximal or optimal standard is that Harvard and Yale, for example, again, have the exact same "regional" accreditation as one's local community college; yet no one who hasn't fallen on his/her head too many times in life would ever consider arguing that one's local community college is on-par with either Harvard or Yale. So CLU's posit, while seemingly just convoluted logic, is actually intentionally intented to mislead, as all degree mills do in precisely this manner, on their "accreditatio" pages.
CLU's further millishness from the immediately-previously quoted from its website, and which is classically seen on most other relgious degree mill websites, includes both the posit that "[g]overnment-recognized accreditation is not necessary for the religious vocations," and the similar "people working in ministry positions do not need a government-accredited degree;" as well as the even more classic "a number of churches take a stand against the Church voluntarily placing itself under government regulations."
Of course, CLU's not a church. It's, allegedly, a university, which naturally demands government regulation in order to be credible. Note the carefully-worded sleight-of-hand of it. Most mills aren't so careful, and allege that many Christian colleges, universities and seminaries resist accreditation because they don't want to be controlled by government...
...never mind that the aforementioned USDE- and CHEA-approved ATS accredits every single mainline denominational seminary in the country! For the both socio-politically and theologically conservative, non-denominational, Right-winged schools, either of the USDE- and CHEA-approved ABHE
fit the bill nicely; and would never, in a million years, mess with how any of their accredited schools teach theology... at least not in any manner that should bother the likes of CLU, since what it believes, and what ABHE and TRACS believe, are in sync.
Regarding the ridiculous assertion that an education accredited by a government-approved agency isn't necessary for ministry, all of the colleges, universities and seminaries that are ATS, ABHE or TRACS accredited -- be they liberal/progressive/Left, center/moderate, or conservative/Right -- would all beg to differ. Martin Luther, based, in part, on scripture, made a big deal out of those who deign to prech obtaining a credible and proper religious education. Statistically, most churches out there which employ clergy demand that they have, at bare minimum, the professionally normative Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree; and that said degree be from a seminary or religious college/university that's ATS, ABHE or TRACS accredited. Most denominations, and even most non-denominational groups, are unambiguously clear about that.
So, then, what's really
the problem for CLU -- and pretty much all religious degree mills like it -- is that it cannot not possibly meet any USDE- and/or CHEA-approved accreditor's standards for financial soundness, administrative effectiveness, or academic rigor. Simple as that. And so their apologetics regarding accreditation center around that no religious school should be under government's thumb. It's just nonesense.
In classic millist style, CLU's "accreditation" page relies, far more heavily for evidence of its credibility, on (and devotes web page space, accordingly to), its associations, affiliations and testimonials. That's pretty much how all the mills play it when they've got no credible accreditation claim on which to stand. How CLU is playing it is textbook (an irony of phrase, considering).
Curiously, WLI, on its "about" page
, does not claim "accreditation" from CAI or any other entity; nor does it claim ACEA "certification" of its namesake's own creation. I suspect that's because it's in California: a state which, if WLI claimed too much, would almost certainly say that it needs to be regulated by the state's relatively new Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE), which is much tougher than its predecessor Bureau for Private Postsecondary Vocational Education (BPPVE).
Bottom line: the only claim of any real worth which GSSM makes on its accreditation page is that SATS will accept it credits. And knowing SATS as I do (and I do: though it's too theologically and socio-politically far Right for my
tastes, I have nevertheless long communicated with it regarding its various programs; and its Principal once asked me if I'd be interested in writing a course delivery software system for it... sadly, my health, at the time, wasn't up to the task), I'll believe that
of GSSM's claims when I see
So, if integrity
from this little cabal matters at all, then I'd say there's a problem. Of course, that, in large measure, was Ms Tabachnick's article's at least partial point, in the first place. Their all being integrity-challenged is now simply further documented. Perhaps Ms Tabachnick will want to add all this to her document, referenced and linked-to in the final paragraph of her story to which this is a comment. Happy to help.
Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA
gregg at greggdeselms dot com
by DesElms on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 04:51:53 AM EST