from Ethical Issues
At its 2002 annual meeting, the American Psychological Association decided not to remove an exemption in its accreditation standards for religiously affiliated colleges and universities. The exemption, known as "Footnote 4," has been used to allow religiously affiliated institutions to use preferential treatment in admissions and employment for people who adhere to the institution's faith.
Gay and lesbian groups within the A.P.A. had recently sought repeal of Footnote 4. They feared that the exemption would result in anti-gay discrimination, while religious groups insisted the exemption is necessary to protect their religious freedom.
Psychologist Stanton Jones of Wheaton College said that many Christian institutions like Wheaton depend on the exemption because it requires faculty members and students to adhere to a shared belief and a universally held code of sexual conduct. Other institutions which use Footnote 4, he said, are Fuller Theological Seminary and Biola University.
"It may come down to forcing such schools to decide between eliminating their school of psychology or abandoning the faith tradition that gives them their unique character," said Patrick Korten, a spokesman for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, before the APA cast its vote to retain the exemption.
When the American Psychological Association voted in February not to rescind Footnote 4, religiously-affiliated schools were allowed to continue to hire employees and admit students who adhere to their denomination's faith tradition and their code of sexual conduct.
During the dispute over the exemption, the U.S. Education Department warned the APA that it risked violating civil-rights laws and the Constitution if it did not protect the religious liberty of the APA-affiliated schools in question.