(RNS) After a seven-week probe into whether seminary dean Ergun Caner exaggerated his dramatic conversion from militant Islam to evangelical Christianity, Liberty University announced Caner will remain on faculty, but no longer as dean.
The investigation, prompted by a growing coalition of skeptical Muslim and Christian bloggers, concluded Caner, 43, had converted from Islam as a teenager, but had fabricated or embellished “matters such as dates, names and places of residence” in public statements.
Caner made a name for himself after the 9/11 terror attacks by giving interviews and speeches about Islam and his conversion story. He and his brother Emir, who is president of Truett-McConnell College, a Baptist school in Georgia, co-authored a 2003 book, “Inside Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs.”
Since Caner became the first ex-Muslim to lead an evangelical seminary in 2005, enrollment at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary tripled during his tenure.
But his critics, bolstered by a May 3 report in Christianity Today, found major contradictions in his claims of growing up in Turkey, rather than Ohio, and involvement in “Islamic youth jihad” to commit terrorism.
“Dr. Caner has cooperated with the board committee and has apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review,” according to the university’s statement.
Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, Va., was founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. Officials could not be reached Monday (June 28) to comment on who will become the school’s acting dean, and which subjects Caner will teach as a professor.
— Nicole Neroulias
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