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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

President of Liberty Baptist Seminary (founded by Jerry Falwell) Under Investigation

Ergun Caner is President of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia. It is part of Liberty University, the fundamentalist school founded by the late Jerry Falwell.

On May 5th, the Seminary announced on its website that Liberty University Provost Dr. Ron Godwin is forming a committee to investigate a series of accusations against Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. The Evangelical magazine, Christianity Today,  has run a couple of articles on the situation (see here and here).

In an article published May 17th, the local Lynchburg newspaper, The News and Advance, stated:
When Liberty University begins the investigation it announced last week into the background of Ergun Caner, president of its seminary, the panel doing the work could explore several questions.

Where did Caner grow up — in Ohio or in Turkey?

When did he come to the United States — as a teenager as he has said, or at age 4 as his parents’ divorce documents indicate?

Did Caner have a nominal Muslim upbringing, or was he raised in Islamic jihad, “trained to do that which was done on 11 September” as he told an audience in Jacksonville, Fla., in November 2001?

Did he formally debate scholars of other faiths, including Islam, as his online biography once claimed?

Is Caner’s middle name Mehmet, as it’s shown on the cover of books he’s written — or is it Michael, as it’s listed on the concealed-weapons permit he got last year in Lynchburg?

It appears that shortly after 9/11, Caner decided to embellish his Muslim background. The News and Advance article continues:
Ergun Caner gave vivid accounts of his Muslim upbringing to church audiences in Florida and Texas shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“I was raised as a Sunni Muslim” in Europe, Caner said at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., according to a recording of his talk there on Nov. 20, 2001.

“I was the son of the muezzin, the one who does the call to prayer at the top of the minaret,” Caner said, describing himself as being similar to a “preacher’s kid.”

“May I submit to you, until I was 15 years old I was in the Islamic youth jihad. And so until I came to America; until I found Jesus Christ as Lord, I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September. As were thousands of youth,” Caner said on the recording.

That same month, at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, Caner gave this description of his Islamic background:

“And coming to America I had lived under the misconception that you hated me, as a Muslim,” Caner said in remarks that were rebroadcast by Focus on the Family in April.

“That really affected a lot of what I did in my younger years,” Caner told the Texas audience.

“I’m not really proud of the fact that I am part of, was part of, Islamic Jihad. I’m not proud of the fact that it actually was my people who were involved in what took place, the horror,” he said, referring to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The committee's report is due on June 30th. It will be interesting to see the results. I hope, for his own sake, that Caner doesn't take the line that Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal recently took when he was caught lying about serving in Vietnam. Blumenthal said he "misspoke." As Sen. John Cornyn of  Texas said, Blumenthal made matters even worse by downplaying his lies as a "mistake":  "The only worse thing, I think, is then coming on and saying, 'Oh, I misspoke,' after you've been caught red-handed," Cornyn said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "It's as if he shot himself in one foot, then reloaded and shot himself in the other."

Just as Blumenthal knew whether or not he served in Vietnam, that is not the kind of thing you would make a mistake about, Caner knows whether or not he was reared as a Muslim in Europe.


  1. Hi Ken, I am glad you shared your de-conversion from your former Baptist faith. As a doubting Baptist I am seriously reconsider my faith after recent news of even a seminary president, Ergun Caner, who has been lying consistently for a decade. I begin to think that the Christian faith does not really help believers in real life. If a seminary president can lie all the time and remains a seminary president, I think I don't need to belong to this kind of a rotten system of belief.

    Why don't you write more about your evolution from a Baptist to an agnostic or an atheist.

  2. This sounds like a typical testimony on Sunday night. :) As a pastor I got used to hearing embellished BS during testimony time on Sunday nights. Preachers are the worst. The need to be a worser :) sinner than everyone else.

    This will not end well for Caner.

  3. I remember giving my testimony to a small group and telling everyone that I "got drunk all the time" before my conversion -- which was far from the truth. I felt guilty immediately afterward, but the impulse to juice up the story was undeniable.

  4. Steve,

    As far as I can remember my Sunday morning at Baptist churches we always hear incredible stories and endless calling for salvation. Vividly I still recall how satisfied the pastors were--seeing the same people went forward to get salvation Sunday after Sunday. Now as I reflecting back, probably we were all duped by those unbelievable stories to be told the moral of the stories. I am just wondering how much lies they fed us on a weekly basis, then?

  5. Caner con man, I can totally relate to you, my man. I am a former fundamentalist that was involved in Baptist and other conservative evangelical churches. For all the claims that Christianity will change your life and make you some kind of new wonderful person, it sure does come up short. Despite all my Bible thumping, I was still the same old me with the same old hurts, habits and hangups, although at the time I would not have admitted it, but deep down, I knew the truth.

    The Caner story just represents what many of us have known all along: That Christians, despite their claim to be the righteous salt of the earth, are no different than any one else. They are as prone to lying, corruption, and misconduct as much as anyone. Sometimes I wonder if they are more prone. Just look at Barna's (an evangelical Christian pollster) statistics. the divorce rate among Christians is higher than that of the "world."

    I know the constant corruption being exposed among evangelicals and fundamentalists does not disprove Christianity, but it really does make me wonder if this thing really works, and as caner con man said, "helps people in real life" like it claims to. But that is only one reason I am now an agnostic theist.

  6. Reminds me of the recent "First Muslim Miss USA". Being from the same area as she, and hearing the news repeat her claim that "we celebrate both Christian and Muslim faith", it was obvious that it was a con. The two are mutually exclusive.

  7. @Mike - The people who are most public about their holiness are always the most nasty and corrupt inside. Christ called them "whitewashed tombs". Modern scientists call it "moral balancing" or "compensatory ethics".

  8. @Mike - I was agreeing with your observations, and providing some scientific basis for why it might be true. What was unclear about that?

  9. I have seen the hurt that the christian community can do to one who does not abide my the christian morals that they profess and all that happens is the person becomes hurt and feels that they no longer belong. All I ask is where is this god of love? No longer will I believe or accept these lies.

  10. Opps meant by instead of my.

  11. BTW,

    Christian apologists stick together. So far, Norm Geisler (who spoke at the Liberty Seminary commencement this year) is defending his friend, Ergun Caner. See here.

  12. Oh, OK Josh. Your post wasn't unclear. I just had a brain cramp when I read your post last night. My mind is much clearer this morning. :-) Sorry about that.

  13. Ken, what Geisler is doing is pathetic, but James White (who just debated Bob Price) is one of the men who has been responsible for exposing Caner as a fraud, and for that I respect him (White). If these guys (apologists) are going to argue for what they believe is the truth, it's pretty stupid of them to lie about their background.

  14. Mike,

    You are right, it was James Whitewho kept harping on this subject. He also showed that Caner lied (which Caner admitted) about having debated a certain Muslim scholar.

    Liberty's board dismissed the allegations because they look at White as a crusading Calvinist and Caner and White have had some pretty nasty email exchanges (which White publishes) about Calvinism and who has the "true" interpretation of Scripture.

  15. The despicable ways the so called preachers and apologists maneuvers to promote themselves in the name of Jesus Christ is nauseating. Basically it is selling mugs, T-shirts, books, CDs, DVD's, etc. but in essence it is by all means bringing in money by selling Jesus Christ. They are not used by Jesus Christ. They are using Jesus Christ for personal financial benefits.

  16. Sounds like all these apologists are following in the footsteps of Paul, i.e. declaring themselves to be the chief of sinners. Makes for a better conversion story.

  17. Mr. Pulliam, do you have any reading suggestion for someone like you in the transition stage of de-conversion from the Christian faith (e.g., Baptist's)?

  18. Conman,

    You might try reading Marlene Winell's, Leaving the Fold - A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion. She is a psychologist who has helped people transition out of strict religious groups.

  19. [just saw the following on the web!]

    Liberty University's "Ex-Muslim" Scandal Etc.

    Speaking of "Ex-Muslim" Ergun Caner and other Liberty University scandals, readers can Google “Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal” (line-by-line proof that THE Jerry Falwell’s 1981 “Fundamentalist Phenomenon” book was a huge plagiarism of George Dollar’s 1973 “History of Fundamentalism in America”!). Also Google “Thomas Ice (Bloopers).” Ice is a prof at LU whose “Ph.D” was “obtained” from a tiny Texas school that was fined by the state of Texas for illegally issuing degrees! When “Dr.” Ice reproduced in 1989 Margaret Macdonald’s short “pre-tribulation rapture” revelation of 1830 (Margaret originated this 180-year-old escapist endtime view which has made millionaires of Lindsey, LaHaye etc.!), he somehow left out 49 words when copying it - the same 49 words LaHaye left out in the same sections when a book of his reproduced it three years later! (LaHaye has been one of LU’s biggest donors.) Ice, BTW, also had the same distinctive copying errors Lindsey had when he had reproduced MM’s revelation in his 1983 book! Since Liberty University is one of the top promoters of the same fringe-British-originated pretrib rapture fantasy, interested readers can also Google “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Letter from Mrs. Billy Graham,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” (documented plagiarism and other dishonesty since 1830 by some of the best known names in evangelicalism) - all uncovered by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot.” (Evangelicals should take some tranquilizers before reading the above!)

    PS - Are Muslims aware that American evangelicalism's political success is tied to its fanatical obsession with and rabid promotion of the 180-year-old "pre-trib rapture"? This endtime view is THE reason why Hal Lindsey's "The Late Great Planet Earth" (1970) and Tim LaHaye's continuing "Left Behind" series have surpassed sales records - money power tied to their political agendas. If Islamic power centers were to circulate the authoritative work "The Rapture Plot" (above) among scholars, book review editors, politicians, bookstores etc., they would seriously cripple evangelicalism and leave it in disarray! The same "Rapture Plot" book can easily be borrowed through worldwide inter-library loan for a small fee. It is the ONE book that evangelicals want to keep out of Muslims' hands!

  20. One thing that makes my apostasy more comforting the older I get is that I can see that the lives of xians are not superior to the lives of non-xians. My religious sister's family life is not as positive as my atheist family life. My xian uncle, who gives so much of his time and money to his church it is pathetic, is always broke, yet my husband and I have never wanted for anything.

    For people who literally have the mind of Christ dwelling within them and a supposed super power like the Holy Spirit teaching them, xians are a stupid, lazy, hedonistic, and lying lot.

    Did I mention I'm a misanthrope?

  21. I don't understand the josh's point on it.But this Ex sunni has become a confusion