Ergun Caner by Biglo at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia CommonsFor a few months now, questions have swirled around Ergun Caner, the dean of theology at Liberty University, a college founded by the late Rev Jerry Falwell. He claimed to have originally been a devout Muslim, but converted to evangelical Christianity. For this he became relatively famous in fundamentalist Christian circles, going on the fundie-church lecture circuit around the country, especially after September 11, 2001. The fundies, you see, just love hearing about people who go from being a devout {something-other-than-Christian} to a devout Christian.

In any event, the fundies in charge of Liberty University found they could no longer credibly ignore the controversy; they investigated Caner, and decided he’s out as head of their theology department. The AP via Google News reports on their decision (WebCite cached article):

A Baptist minister who toured the country to talk about his conversion from Islam to Christianity is no longer the dean of Liberty University’s theological seminary following allegations he fabricated or embellished facts about his past, the school said Friday.

The university founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell said that a board of trustees committee concluded Ergun Caner made contradictory statements. Although it didn’t find evidence that he was not a Muslim who converted as a teenager, it did discover problems with dates, names and places he says he lived, a statement said.

Caner will remain on the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary faculty, but won’t be dean when his term expires on June 30.

During the course of the controversy, when bloggers had just started discussing the conflicting and/or incorrect claims he’d made, Caner went around the Internet asking for information about him, or material by him, to be deleted. Unfortunately, covering one’s tracks on the Internet doesn’t work too well.

Note that — in spite of Caner’s documented lying and dissembling, LU still couldn’t summon the courage to fire Caner completely or concede he’d never been a Muslim; they said, in a statement (courtesy of WSET-13, Lynchburg VA; locally cached version):

However, the committee found no evidence to suggest that Dr. Caner was not a Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager, but, instead, found discrepancies related to matters such as dates, names and places of residence. … Dr. Caner will remain on the faculty of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary as a professor.

That’s the way it is with fundamentalist Christians … they may have their disagreements, and they may even have to admit wrongdoing on the part of one of their own, but — no matter what any of them might do — ultimately, they all stick together nonetheless.

This sorry episode makes Ergun Caner another member of my “lying liars for Jesus” club, and the directors of Liberty University gain honorary membership in it, for essentially being apologists for a lying liar for Jesus. Way to go guys!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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