Intent of the Coalition of Independent Christian Seminaries


CICS Website


What it the charter and intent of the formation of this coalition?


First we must understand the issues with government regulated accreditation and private accreditation. An Op-ed on the issues with regulated accreditation can be found here:


There are independent regulated accreditation entities for seminaries. That is true. Yet, for the most part you pay a fee, get an invite to a meeting once a year BUT there is no agreement on a set of standards for credibility and once the fee is paid you need not ever communicate with the agency again. Seems counter productive.


- The intent of this coalition is to bring together a group of organizations that will monitor each other, of free will and licit intent, to agree on a set of standards to enrich our OWN credibility.


There are two elements we must take into account. First, there are two types of organizations that require seminary training for ‘practicing clergy’, the mainstream churches and the Independent Churches. This group will be tasked with working together in UNITY to secure proper training for our respective clergy outside the highly secular business model and extreme expense of the University Seminary Model. We will embrace unity and logical agreement over uniformity and conformity. For organizations that either require or desire semi-autonomous and non-stipend clergy, the university model of seminary is no longer a workable solution. The Murdoch report states clearly; university seminaries are training theologians who desire debate, research, translation or other such tasks – they are not training practicing clergy.


28 states in the United States (various countries have similar legal code) have exemptions from certification from the Dept. of Education and from ‘accreditation’. Whereas accreditation is a secular concept, it flies in the face of the ‘independence’ guaranteed by the 1st and 14th Amendments as subsequent clauses in the Constitution and supported by various incidental laws;


Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion. The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the "separation of church and state." However, some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of “blue laws" is not prohibited. The Free Exercise Clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a person's practice of their religion.

Taking this is simple context, you may extrapolate that by requiring “oversight” of religious training of clergy is an exercise that may impede the free exercise of religion.

Under the laws on the United Stated Code 26 501 (c3):

Churches (including integrated auxiliaries and conventions or associations of churches) that meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of exempt status from the IRS. Donors are allowed to claim a charitable deduction for donations to a church that meets the section 501(c)(3) requirements even though the church has neither sought nor received IRS recognition that it is tax exempt. In addition, because churches and certain other religious organizations are not required to file an annual return or notice with the IRS, they are not subject to automatic revocation of exemption for failure to file.

This section of United States code clearly states that the Federal Government considers a church or subsidiaries totally exempt from all Federal requirements. If we take this in context of regional and national accreditation associations, that REPORT to the Federal Government, it may be extrapolated this oversight of a seminary may impede the free exercise of religion.

This is supported by 26 508 (c1a). With the passing of the Johnson Act in 1954, the IRS Code 508 is an extension to IRS Code 501 and specifically calls out exceptions:


(1)Mandatory exceptions Subsections (a) and (b) (previous) shall not apply to—


churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches, or

There is the misconception that ‘accredited’ universities and seminaries are of a higher standard than non-accredited institutions, and that lack of accreditation results in scam institutions. While we agree that scams do exist in non-accredited institutions, it is understood that accredited universities and seminaries have the same issues of corruption. Mismanagement, fraud, embezzlement, sex scandals, issues of discrimination and ethics violations are rampant. All of this information is publicly available. This includes lists of “accredited’ seminaries that have lawsuits against them or have lost their accreditation due to corruption, mismanagement and greed.


The outstanding issue at hand is that there is little or no formality to the formation and training within the Independent Church, the result of which has eroded credibility. With the decline of the mainstream organizations the independent are in a position to be a strong component of the church universal in the future.


Working together to form a strong, ethically sound, biblically strong and ‘practicing clergy’ oriented will go a long ways to bolstering the independents credibility.


Self Accreditation’ is a historical fact associated with the universal church. For nearly 1800 years since the death of our Lord, clergy were trained in monasteries or by apprenticeship. It was rare for 'practicing clergy' to be trained in university, that was the purview of clergy that desired to become 'theologians'; those who wished to research, debate or translate biblical writing. For 1912 years since the death of our Lord, even when ‘accreditation’ of universities began, it was fully optional. Here in the U.S accreditation was totally optional until the G.I Bill was fully enacted in 1945. The only reasons for accreditation are; government loans, auditing financials, oversight of diversity, validating administrative activities and other 'business' activities. Accreditation for seminaries places them in a 'secular' environment forcing the seminaries to run as a secular business.


Our mission at hand is to work as a team in unity to form a series of Independent Seminaries with a handful of individuals to oversee a core set of curriculum for our organizations that are invited into the coalition.