‘Ex-towelhead’ chief of Liberty Baptist Seminary stands accused of deception

DR Ergun Caner, the President of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, has been a rising star on the religious right, entertaining audiences at major fundie gatherings with his hip, irreverent stories about his upbringing as a radical Muslim and his conversion to Christianity.

Fantasy merchant Ergun Caner

Just this week, according Right Wing Watch, his story was featured on Focus on the Family’s broadcast, From Jihad to Jesus.

But it turns out, according to a growing chorus of critics – many of them Southern Baptists and other Christians – that Caner has apparently been lying for years about his childhood and his life story.

It’s hard to even summarise the extent of the deceptions being described by his critics, but they include his claims to have grown up in Turkey and to have personally involved in Islamic Jihad, when court records from his parents’ divorce place him in Columbus, Ohio when he was just a few years old.

Check some of the critical websites for voluminous debunking of Caner’s colorful (and apparently fanciful) stories about  learning about America through TV broadcasts in Turkey and more.

Some charges are even more directly related to his ministry, such as his claims to have debated top Muslim scholars around the world. Caner’s critics say there’s no evidence of those debates.

These are no vague or reckless charges, but carefully documented exposes that draw from Caner’s sermons, speeches, and online videos, and other public records.  Liberty doesn’t seem to have responded publicly, but recently posted a revised version of Caner’s bio with disputed claims removed.

Some of Caner’s critics are willing to forgive him, but only if he owns up to his massive deceptions.  Meanwhile, Caner and his supporters have been trying to get his critics to shut up. Caner himself has pulled the religious right’s favored religious persecution card, reportedly saying in a memo to his Liberty colleagues

I never thought I would see the day when alleged ‘Christians’ join with Muslims to attack converts.

Meanwhile, others are starting to raise questions about the extent to which Ergun’s brother Emir, who heads a Baptist college in Georgia, may have assisted in Ergun’s deceptions, whether actively or by passively allowing false claims to go unchallenged.

In this 2006 report of the North Alabama Bible Conference, Caner – recruited to the Liberty Seminary by the ghastly homophobe Jerry Falwell (now dead from over-eating) – jokingly called himself a one-time “towel-head” – and told the crowd at Decatur Baptist Church that he had moved three times and has changed his phone number eight times due to threats from Muslim extremists. But:

What can they do to me? If they destroy my body, I’ll be in heaven.

Hat tip: Alan