Faith-Based Fibber?: Liberty U. Seminary President Accused Of Fabricating Life Story
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu May 13, 2010 at 12:02:43 PM EST
The last time we heard from Ergun Caner, the president of Liberty University's seminary, he was riding around his Lynchburg, Va., campus on Election Day in a truck (accompanied by a GOP elephant made out of chicken wire) urging students to vote for Republican candidates.

Americans United asserted that Caner's overt electioneering was just another example of the fundamentalist school's determination to push candidates favored by Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., despite a federal law that forbids tax-exempt religious institutions from intervening in partisan politics.

Now Caner is back in the news - and once again it's not in a good way.

Caner has made a name for himself by highlighting his unusual life story: He says he was born into a stridently Muslim family in Turkey, where he learned to hate America and Christians. As Caner tells it, he flirted with jihad before undergoing a life-changing conversion to fundamentalist Christianity. He then persuaded most of his family to convert as well, and they now spread the gospel.

It's a compelling story, and Caner tells it well. I heard him address last year's "Values Voter Summit" sponsored by the Family Research Council. Even though I didn't agree with Caner's Religious Right perspective, I had to admit that he was a funny and engaging speaker.

But now it turns out there may be some problems with Caner's life story - like, it may not be true.

The Lynchburg News & Advance reported two days ago that Liberty officials have launched an investigation. The school was forced to act after criticism about Caner, which had circulated on the web mostly through blogs, bubbled up to the print media.

"In light of the fact that several newspapers have raised questions, we felt it necessary to initiate a formal inquiry," Falwell said in a statement posted on LU's Web site.

Both Christian and Muslim bloggers have criticized Caner. Caner poses as an expert on Islam and in 2002 wrote a book with his brother titled Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs, but it's unclear if he ever even belonged to that religion.

Despite his claims about having lived in Turkey, it now appears that Caner was born in Sweden and moved to Ohio when he was 4 years old. His father was a Muslim, but his mother was Lutheran. The couple divorced, and Caner's mother retained custody. He became an evangelical Christian as a teen; it's unlike he was ever recruited by jihadists.

Caner is also accused of claiming that he has debated a Muslim scholar named Shabir Ally. While Ally frequently engages in debates, he says he has never debated Caner. Some Muslim bloggers have blasted Caner for his ignorance of that faith, saying his real goal is to attack the religion and proselytize for his own version of Christianity.

AlterNet ran a lengthy examination of Caner's claims and the evidence against him. It's worth a look.

Liberty officials say they hope to have the investigation completed by the end of next month. It's not my job to offer Caner unsolicited advice, but if he needs a defense he might just say he was simply following the example of Liberty's founder. Jerry Falwell Sr. was well known for his ability to, let us politely say, "stretch the truth."

One of my favorite incidents involved a rather extreme book Falwell wrote in 1979 titled America Can Be Saved! When I confronted him on the Fox News Channel in April of 1998 and quoted some of the radical material in the book, Falwell simply denied he had ever written it!

I don't what the outcome of the Caner investigation will be, but I do know this: If it turns out Caner falsified his story, he won't be the only fibber ever to have graced the grounds of Liberty University.

This seems to be a common problem with leaders of the Religious Right. Benny Hinn is a classic example, where many of the details of his early life, as documented in his best selling book "Good Morning, Holy Spirit" were shown to be fabrications.

But whenever I listen to preachers recounting their miraculous redemption from a troubled early life on Christian talk radio, I often get the feeling that even if they aren't completely making things up, they are probably spicing up the details to make it more memorable and entertaining.  I think it's all part of the self-propagating myth that literally "going through the valley of the shadow of death" make you a more righteous and deserving person.

And I think that's definitely true preachers who like to turn their sermons into one long stand-up comedy set make things up all the time.  It's just not possible of one person to have so many hilarious situation happen to them every week.  

Jesse Duplantis is a classic example of that.  His sermons can be an absolute scream, but I'd be willing to bet that more than half the stuff he talks about happening in his life is completely untrue, and the rest of it is greatly exaggerated.

When anyone in the pulpit prefixes a personal recollection with "and this is God's honest truth," you know you have to treat what they're saying with a truck-load of salt.

by tacitus on Thu May 13, 2010 at 07:30:00 PM EST

It seems someone intelligent enough to acquire this position would know about the 'internets' and the ease of accessing information, say about someone's past. Perhaps they are only interested in fooling the flock, which they are fleecing, milking, and otherwise violating.

Rob, I'm sure Fox followed up on Falwell's claim that he never wrote such a book... not.

by COinMS on Sat May 15, 2010 at 11:39:09 AM EST

It seems that lies of convenience to puff up their history is something the real followers of Christ should fight against. I was under the impression that lying isn't a casual sin. Maybe these guys and gals who do so constantly may not necessarily be psychopaths, who lie all the time, but maybe they were just brought up that way. Whatever works to get them ahead in life seems to dictate their actions. No matter how perfidious or hurtful. One can't tell the truth all the time but lying about something that can be checked by anyone seems daft to me. But then if their "flock" is the only ones they are interested in pulling the wool over, then they probably will get away with it. Because any criticism out side of it wil be considered inflammatory and prejudiced against them in the first place. How that works out so well for them! Too bad for those who give their money and their loyalty too. Cronyism is ugly and this is it.

by Nightgaunt on Sun May 16, 2010 at 04:45:34 PM EST

To generate onlinefreerobux for the roblox free robux game to play free then use free robux generator for the roblox robux game to play free.

by vijay90 on Sat Sep 15, 2018 at 01:58:20 AM EST

A beats might be fantastic. You possess numerous especially capable actors. I just aspire most people the right from victory.    Crawley Tax Accountants

by LayneMarvin on Thu Jul 25, 2019 at 09:43:10 AM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (374 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (198 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (110 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (101 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (113 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (144 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (126 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (118 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (250 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (64 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (161 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (176 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (70 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (80 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (218 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (253 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (107 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (211 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (165 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (163 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (169 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (156 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (130 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (330 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (148 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (90 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (214 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.