Accreditation Religious Freedom Act

The National Association of Scholars upholds the standards of a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual freedom, searches for the truth, and promotes virtuous citizenship.


Accrediting organizations increasingly require religious colleges and universities to abandon or violate their faith commitments, to satisfy requirements framed in such language as “inclusivity” or “gender identity.” Federal policymakers should ensure that accrediting organizations may not trespass on the religious freedom of religious colleges and universities.

The Accreditation Religious Freedom Act amends 20 U.S. Code § 1099b - Recognition of accrediting agency or association to preserve religious colleges and universities’ liberty from hostile and coercive accreditors.

20 U.S. Code § 1099b (k) Religious institution rule already includes language to protect religious institutions, but its loose wording has not served to prevent accrediting organizations from coercing religious institutions. We propose below that the Accreditation Religious Freedom Act replace 20 U.S. Code § 1099b (k) Religious institution rule.

Model Legislative Text


This Act may be cited as the “Accreditation Religious Freedom Act of {20XX}”.


1. In General.— 20 U.S. Code § 1099b - Recognition of accrediting agency or association is amended by striking (k) Religious institution rule and replacing it with a new section, to read as follows:

"(1) Notwithstanding subsection (j), the Secretary shall allow an institution that has had its accreditation withdrawn, revoked, or otherwise terminated, or has voluntarily withdrawn from an accreditation agency, to remain certified as an institution of higher education under section 1002 of this title and subpart 3 of this part for a period sufficient to allow such institution to obtain alternative accreditation, if the Secretary determines that the reason for the withdrawal, revocation, or termination—

"(A) is related to the religious mission or affiliation of the institution; and

"(B) is not related to the accreditation criteria provided for in this section;

"(2) the term “religious mission” includes an institution’s religious tenets, beliefs, or teachings, and any policies or decisions related to such tenets, beliefs, or teachings, including any policies or decisions concerning housing, employment, curriculum, self-governance, or student admission, continuing enrollment, or graduation; and

"(3) an agency or association’s standard fails to respect an institution’s religious mission when the institution determines that the standard induces, pressures, or coerces the institution to act contrary to, or to refrain from acting in support of, any aspect of its religious mission."


If any provision of this Act, or the application of any provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this Act and the application of its provisions to any other person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby.