NEW UPDATE: The “Accreditation” page of Welton Academy has been changed to “Degrees“. I’m not certain when this happened, but I saw it Nov 2, 2016. So I guess its fair to say that about a week after this original post, Mr. Welton made a change to his site. Good on him!
Accreditation can be a sore topic for some Christian academics. I remember hearing speeches from undergrad professors who resented the fact that their service to the Lord had to be approved by some faceless and probably godless group of strangers. Still, even ultraconservative institutions have and maintain their accreditation.
But then some people just tell lies.
Popular charismatic preacher Jonathan Welton runs a school he calls Welton Academy which from its website appears to be accredited. However, there’s nothing on the Accreditation page except a list of classes and the credit hours they satisfy. That webpage also says that Welton Academy partners with Vision International University. VIU’s website, however (here and here), states that they are in fact not a nationally accredited institution. They do get some recognition from the state of California, but there is a disclaimer that degrees from this institution might not be accepted in other states.
Degrees issued by Vision International University are approved by the State of California Bureau for Private Post-Secondary Education (BPPE). Not all states accept unaccredited degrees approved by another state. -Affiliation and Authorization webpage
Vision International University is an Affiliate member of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), a US Department of Education Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognized accrediting agency. Affiliate Institutions are not accredited by the ABHE. Acceptance as an Affiliate institution with the ABHE is not equivalent to accreditation and does not guarantee that Vision International University will someday be accredited, but it does indicate that Vision International University has met an initial standard for ABHE recognition. – Fact Sheet PDF (see “here” links above)
The relevant phrase you’re looking for is “not accredited”. Yet, Mr. Welton goes on Facebook and claims that VIU is in fact accredited.
I don’t think anyone cares that a religious group wants to have a religious school. But taking money from students and telling them you offer an accredited degree is very unethical.
UPDATE: Welton has indicated on Facebook that he was unaware of accreditation details and will be looking into how accreditation is represented on his website. I previously called him a thief and a liar for taking money based on the false presupposition of full accreditation. I no longer think he’s a liar. Whether or not he’s a thief will depend on how swiftly full refunds are delivered to students who bought his product under misleading advertising. Finally, I wish Casey Blaney and her horses well! Thanks for reading!