Liberty U. Removing Ergun Caner as Seminary Dean Over Contradictory Statements

June 30, 2010

Author: William Wan and Michelle Boorstein

Source: The Washington Post

At an evangelical institution such as Liberty University, personal testimonies are a kind of sacred currency; how Jesus saved you from damnation often defines you as a person. Nobody had a story quite as dramatic as that of Ergun Caner, dean of Liberty's seminary.

As he told it to church audiences across the country, Caner was entrenched in Muslim extremism when he moved to the United States from Turkey as a teenager and found Jesus. He wrote books and, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, developed a reputation for his impassioned speeches on Muslim radicalism to largely evangelical audiences. Liberty founder Jerry Falwell Sr. chose Caner -- a bold man with a big shaved head, double-barrel chest and the personality to match -- in 2005 to be the face of his seminary. Under Caner, the seminary tripled its enrollment.

But now, few want to talk about Caner. Mention his name, and seminary staff turn cold. University leaders politely shake their heads and show you the door. Even students hesitate to talk.

"I'd rather not add any fuel to the fire," one student said.