DL Foster, the mind of The Gay Christian Movement Watch, accused a person (Bishop “Dr.” Wyatt) of having a fraudulent academic background. I am not going to comment on what he said, since I’m not really interested in that. But it did make me wonder about Reverend Foster’s own credentials. In his Witness for the World website, he lists them:
After graduating from Marlin (TX) High School in 1980, he attended McClennan Community College…He also furthered his education at the University of Maryland and Liberty University. Pastor Foster is currently pursuing a B.Th. at Atlanta Bible College.
Unlike Foster, I would never call up a university to ask about who went there and who didn’t. Any school that gives out personal information like that should be sued because of privacy concerns. But I can look up various places, especially the Atlanta Bible College, where he is getting his Bachelors in Theology. The website for this Bible College lists that it is accredited:
Atlanta Bible College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission International (ACI), 505 North Apple Street, Beebe, AR 72012. ABC received full accreditation and membership in the Commission in 1998. The ACI is an international accrediting commission which holds as its primary objective the encouragement and maintenance of sound scholarship and the highest academic achievement in the areas of private Christian education. It is a non-governmental body.
The Accrediting Commission International has a very interesting history. In 1982 there was a similarly named group called the International Accrediting Commission (IAC). They gave accreditation to schools that could not get accredited. By 1989 they had given out more that 130 accreditation certificates to these schools. But, it was shut down when a sting operation found that the ACI gave accreditation to a fake school. The IAC came in to a fake office, looked around, took a check from this fake school and gave it its full accreditation seal of approval. The IAC was forced to shut down and soon after it was taken over my a man named Sheer. He moved it to Arkansas and renamed it the Accrediting Commission International (the same group that has accredited DL Foster’s program). It accepted all of the schools that were ‘accredited’ by the International Accrediting Commission. On its website it specifically states that it is not a governmental organization and that it works primarily with religious schools "that [do] not fit into the programs of other accrediting agencies." Why wouldn’t a school that offers bachelor’s degrees not fit into a normal accreditation program? It sounds a bit fishy to me. They also give their seal of accreditation to overseas schools (which is something that Foster bitterly complains about with Wyatt’s grad degrees from St. Regis University):
We appeal to foreign schools who offer business programs, as long as they meet the laws in the country of residence and the guidlines of the Accrediting Commission International.
It is also a bit fishy that on one webpage for the ACI, it lists that is has accredited "282 schools in 5 countries, and in 39 states, with 21,000 students." However, one its front page it states "ACI accredits over 322 schools in 39 of the United States and in 9 other countries." Not surprisingly, it will not make its list of schools it has accredited public. I wonder why it won’t do this? I also find it strange that the first question in its FAQ section is a question they don’t answer in their ‘answer’:
Q. Is all accreditation the same?
A. No. All accreditation is not the same. Accreditation has many purposes . There are several groups who accredit for different reasons. Accrediting Commission International exists to help the Religious World to obtain accreditation that is not government affiliated.
So what is the difference between their accreditation and another accreditation? I would love to hear their answer. I would also love to hear why the Atlanta Bible College cannot get accreditation by the Dept. of Education.
They also have a "ACI Schools in the News" section, which I have to say is downright shonky (I know that isn’t a word, but it describes the page)–they show newspaper clippings for two schools that they have accredited. The site that it points to isn’t even part of their website. That doesn’t inspire confidence in their accreditation, I have to admit.
I’ve looked at the Guidestar info on this ACI and I see that it is quite the family affair. It is run by husband-wife team John (Pres) and Vicki Sheel (Vice President) and their daughter VaLynn Mills (Sect). I guess if you are going to have a non-profit, you might as well keep it in the family…Bishop Sheel also is the founder of the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church, which has its own college–the Lighthouse College and you guessed it, it is accredited by none other than his own non-profit accreditation company, Accrediting Commission International. And funny enough, on the Lighthouse College accreditation page, it states that the ACI has 213 members. So the website for the ACI gives two different totals for the number of schools in their accreditation scheme (282 and 322), and on the Lighthouse College, run by the very same person that runs ACI, lists that it has just 213 members. It is no wonder that the ACI will not make its list of schools it has accredited public!
You can find an interesting statement about the ACI here:
Accrediting Commission International for Schools, Colleges and Theological Seminaries Beebe, Arkansas. See also: "International Accrediting Commission for Schools, Colleges and Theological Seminaries" in this section. After the IAC was fined and closed down by authorities in Missouri in 1989, Dr. Reuter retired. A short time later, ACI opened in the adjoining state, and wrote a letter to the IAC schools offering them automatic accreditation by the ACI. I am not aware of any that turned it down. ACI refuses to make public a list of schools they have accredited. We have noted more than 130 schools that claim ACI accreditation, most of them apparently evangelical Bible schools, but more than a few nonreligious schools as well, including Century University, Columbia Southern University, Wisconsin International University, and Western States University.
Now I do want to point out the Wikipedia article on the Accrediting Commission International, since DL Foster used a Wikipedia article to expose the credentials of someone else:
Accrediting Commission International (ACI), also known as Accrediting Commission International for Schools, Colleges, and Theological Seminaries, is an unrecognized independent educational accreditation group based in Beebe, Arkansas, primarily accrediting religious schools including seminaries and Bible colleges, but also offering accreditation to non-U.S. schools that offer business education programs.
International Accrediting Commission was an accreditation mill run by George S. Reuter Jr. Reuter was fined $15,000 by the State of Missouri in an undercover sting operation when he offered to "accredit" a school in Missouri. Reuter retired and paid the fee, but later transferred the agency to John Scheel who moved the company to Beebe, Arkansas and changed the name to Accrediting Commission International for Schools, Colleges, and Theological Seminaries. Today the Accrediting Commission International remains unrecognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. According to its website, ACI has not applied for U.S. Department of Education recognition because some of its member schools are concerned about maintaining separation of church and state.
And remember, DL Foster is getting his B.S. in Theology from the Atlanta Bible College, accredited by the Accrediting Commission International, formerly known as the accreditation mill, International Accrediting Commission. So it is not recognized nor is it accredited by the Dept. of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. So really DL Foster, you should really be more careful what you write about, because it certainly can come back to bite you…
And before Reverend Foster decides to put time into studying my own degrees (you can search here), the University of Michigan and the Graduate Theological Union are all accredited and recognized by the Dept. of Education. My Ph.D., given by an Australian university, is not listed (and if he wants to attack that, that is fine–but Oxford University isn’t listed either). But he can check here if he really wants to know how the U.S. Dept. of Education feels about Ph.D.s that are earned in Australia. I also teach at colleges that have real accreditation…