It was somewhat surprising to see Ergun Caner listed as a main-stage speaker at the Values Voter Summit. After all, Caner was recently ousted from his post as the head of Liberty University’s theological seminary. Caner was demoted, but not fired, after the media picked up on bloggers’ investigative work exposing lies and contradictions in the “Jihadi to Jesus” life story Caner had told since 9-11. That story made him an evangelical superstar and brought him to Liberty U.
At the Values Voter Summit, it was clear why the Religious Right is standing by Caner. He’s an entertaining speaker who had overseen big growth at Liberty. He might have made a career as one of those stand-up comedians who tells lots of jokes about how husbands will never understand their wives.
After all the jokes, he gave the audience the same kind of charge so many speakers have: it’s your time to take a stand and get involved in the coming elections. He told participants that they will be appointed, anointed, and armed by God, so they won’t have to fear the media or people who will abuse and attack them. He sounded a bit self-pitying when he warned that people will mock you, stalk you on twitter, call you names, and question your motives.
But in spite of all he’s been through, he still can’t seem to tell his story without embellishing the tale. He told the audience that when he converted to Christianity as a teenager, he “lost my family, my father, my home, my culture.” That could easily be misleading: while Caner’s Muslim father apparently did disown him after his conversion, Caner had been living with his mother since his parents had divorced years before.
Maybe Caner should review his own remarks. “We would rather lose doing the right thing than win while compromising the truth.”