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.