Texas High Court Overturns State Seminary Regulations

Texas’s top court has struck down a law that allowed government regulation of seminaries.

HEB Ministries, the Hispanic Bible Institute and the Southern Bible Institute had sued the state, challenging on First Amendment grounds a law barring religious schools from calling themselves seminaries unless they met specific standards.

In late August in HEB Ministries v. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Supreme Court ruled against a state law setting out standards that religious post-secondary schools must meet in order to refer to themselves as a seminary or use terms such as “degree,” “associate,” “bachelor,” “master” and “doctor.” The court ruled that the law “impermissibly intrudes upon religious freedom protected by the United States and Texas Constitutions.”

Lawyers for the state argued that Texas had a compelling interest in shutting down institutions that operate without accountability and grant diplomas either fraudulently or without proper standards. The lawsuit was prompted after Tyndale Theological Seminary in Forth Worth was fined $173,000 for not getting board approval to grant diplomas.