How big? The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty defends the rights of all Americans of whatever creed to have and express their religious views, both individually and communally. The net effect of removing the accreditation of religious colleges' psychology departments, the Becket Fund argued, would not be to increase diversity but to use the APA's delegated power from the federal government to discriminate against schools with religious viewpoints. A major no-no, in other words, from a constitutional perspective. For the U.S. government to delegate accreditation decisions to an organization that does not respect religious liberty would be a blatant violation of the First Amendment. The APA would have to choose between killing Footnote 4 and keeping its accreditation powers.
Surprise! The APA beat a quick retreat. At its November meeting, the Committee on Accreditation unanimously voted to retain Footnote 4 and the respect for religious schools it provides. In the statement announcing its decision, the APA noted "recent Supreme Court decisions that show an increased deference to First Amendment interests over anti-discrimination statutes and the Committee's role as an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education."
Proving that even in America, the price of religious liberty, no less than any other kind, is eternal vigilance. Good thing for us, the Becket Fund is at post.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.