Liberty University is setting up a committee to investigate whether claims made by its seminary president about his Muslim background are accurate.
Weeks of accusations by bloggers and then probing by mainstream media caused LU officials to issue a statement Monday announcing the background investigation of Ergun Caner. Caner is the first former Muslim to become the president of an evangelical seminary.
“Liberty does not initiate personnel evaluations based upon accusations from Internet blogs,” said Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., in the statement. “However, in light of the fact that several newspapers have raised questions, we felt it necessary to initiate a formal inquiry.”
The school’s provost, Dr. Ron Godwin, is in charge of forming the investigation committee with the aim of presenting the results by the end of June.
Under question are details of Caner’s life as a Muslim, such as how devout his family really is, where he was raised, when he converted, and how much of an expert he is on the Quran.
Caner claims he emigrated from Turkey, but bloggers and newspapers have cited his parents’ divorce document as saying he was born in Sweden.
The high-profile seminary president has said he came from a devout Sunni Muslim family and he converted to Christianity when he was 17 years old. But bloggers have given various accounts of his Muslim upbringing, including claims that his family was nominally Muslim, he was raised by his mother who was a Lutheran, and that he had no contact with his Muslim father after the divorce.
Also, a British Muslim named Muhammad Khan has posted a series of videos on YouTube, most of which have been removed, accusing Caner of misrepresenting Islam. Khan said Caner barely has knowledge about Islam given his frequent misuse of Islamic terms, mispronunciations, and confusion regarding basic Muslim beliefs.
There are other questions regarding Caner’s background, including his claim of having been involved in Islamic jihad and engaging in apologetic debates with Muslims.
In a 2005 interview with The Christian Post, Caner said he grew up in Turkey and came from a strong Islamic studies background.
Liberty University has recently revised Caner’s online biography, removing mentions of him being raised in Turkey and having debated many leaders of other faiths around the world.