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Liberty to probe seminary president’s background
Daniel Burke, Religion News Service
May 12, 2010
2 MIN READ TIME

Liberty to probe seminary president’s background

Liberty to probe seminary president’s background
Daniel Burke, Religion News Service
May 12, 2010

Liberty University, the

Baptist school founded by the late Jerry Falwell, will investigate claims that

its seminary president lied about his Muslim background to make his conversion

to Christianity seem more dramatic.

Ergun Caner was named dean

of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in 2005, when he became the first

former Muslim to lead an evangelical seminary, according to Christianity Today.

Bloggers and online activists say Caner, 43, has misrepresented key parts of

his biography, including where he was raised.

Liberty photo

Ergun Caner

Liberty Chancellor Jerry

Falwell Jr. said May 10 that the school “does not initiate personnel

evaluations based upon accusations from Internet blogs.” But, he said, “in

light of the fact that several newspapers have raised questions, we felt it was

necessary to initiate a formal inquiry.”

An investigatory committee

will issue conclusions by the end of June, according to a statement from

Liberty.

In a statement, Caner said: “I

am thrilled that Liberty University is forming this committee, and I look

forward to this entire process coming to a close.”

With nearly 4,000 students,

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, in Lynchburg, Va., is one of several

flagship schools for conservative Baptists. Enrollment has tripled during Caner’s

tenure, according to Christianity Today.

But critics say Caner has

misrepresented several aspects of his past, including claims he was raised in

Turkey, rather than Ohio, in a devoutly Muslim home, rather than a nominally

religious one.

They also dispute Caner’s claims he was involved in Islamic

jihad and has debated dozens of Muslims about religion.

Caner’s current biography on

Liberty’s web site says he was raised a “devout Sunni Muslim” and converted in

high school, but doesn’t say where.

In February, Caner released

a statement saying he had “never intentionally misled anyone,” but said he may

have “misspoke” during his more than 20 years in the pulpit.

He also admitted “referencing

a Muslim scholar that I have never met.”

“Sin is sin,” Caner said, “and

if I am dumb enough to say something like that, I should be man enough to deal

with it and never make such a grievous error again.”