Egrun Caner Out As Head of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

Last month, PFAW Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery wrote a piece for AlterNet examining the allegations that Ergun Caner, head of Liberty University's Baptist Theological Seminary, had exaggerated about about his Muslim past.

After 9/11, Caner became a popular Religious Right speaker, telling audiences how he had been raised in Turkey to wage jihad against America before converting to Christianity and presenting himself as an expert on both Islam and Islamic terrorism. 

Much of that, as it turned out, was false .. and now Liberty University has announced that when Caner's contract is up at the end of this month, it will not be renewed and Caner will no longer be head of the Seminary, though he will remain at LU as a professor:

Liberty University said Friday that Ergun Caner would no longer be dean of its seminary, following an investigation into some of his claims about being raised as a Muslim.

Caner has signed a contract to be a member of the seminary’s faculty next year, the university said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Four members of Liberty’s Board of Trustees who conducted the investigation found that “Dr. Caner has made factual statements that are self-contradictory,” the university said.

The panel, however, basically supported Caner’s testimony of being a former Muslim who converted to Christianity.

The contradictions came in “matters such as dates, names and places of residence,” the LU statement said.

Although LU didn’t provide any more details about the discrepancies, Caner said in several speaking engagements in 2001 and later that he was raised in Turkey before coming to the United States as a teenager.

He also said he was trained in Islamic jihad, a term associated with terrorist activity, according to recordings made in 2001 of his comments at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., and Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

However, his parents’ divorce papers, on file in a Columbus, Ohio, courthouse, indicated the family moved from Stockholm, Sweden, to the U.S. when Caner was about 4 years old, and continued to live in the Columbus area.

Caner’s father was a Muslim who sought to raise his children in the Islamic faith, although he had only part-time custody after the divorce, the documents indicate.

“Dr. Caner has cooperated with the board committee and has apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review,” the LU statement said.

The investigating committee “found no evidence to suggest that Dr. Caner was not a Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager,” the statement said.

LU spokesman Johnnie Moore responded to requests for further comment by saying, “Liberty will not be making any additional comments or giving any interviews at this time.”

Here is the full statement issued by Liberty:

“After a thorough and exhaustive review of Dr. Ergun Caner’s public statements, a committee consisting of four members of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees has concluded that Dr. Caner has made factual statements that are self-contradictory.

“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 has cooperated with the board committee and has apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review.

“Dr. Caner’s current contractual term as Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary expires on June, 30, 2010.

“Dr. Caner will no longer serve as Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

“The university has offered, and Dr. Caner has accepted, an employment contract for the 2010-2011 academic year. Dr. Caner will remain on the faculty of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary as a professor.”