"Liberty University is not partnering with Benny Hinn." So reads a statement from the conservative Christian school founded by Jerry Falwell after Hinn, a controversial charismatic televangelist, featured a Liberty University administrator on a recent broadcast promoting his new partnership with a Bible institute owned by the university.
"Liberty transferred the operations of Liberty Home Bible Institute, a non-accredited biblical studies certificate program, to Mr. Dan Reber in 2011," continues the Southern Baptist-affiliated school's statement shared via email with The Christian Post on Friday.
The statement, attributed to David Corry, general counsel at Liberty University, goes on to explain:
"Mr. Reber, was granted certain licensing rights to use Liberty's name because the Liberty name was deeply imbedded [sic] in LHBI course materials. Earlier, in 2009, Liberty engaged a company of Reber's, Internet Marketing and Communications, LLC, to market Liberty Home Bible Institute and the Institute of Biblical Studies, another non-accredited biblical studies certificate program. Liberty University has maintained ownership of both programs.
"It is our understanding that Dan Reber or his company is working with Benny Hinn but Liberty University is not aware of the extent of the relationship or the terms. A review of the relevant contracts demonstrates that any such cooperative venture, branding initiative or partnership with Benny Hinn regarding these Liberty University properties violates the terms of its agreements with Mr. Reber and Internet Marketing and Communications, LLC. Liberty University has placed them on notice of this breach and is taking steps to stop the unauthorized use of its intellectual properties and trademarks."
Liberty University, the nation's largest private nonprofit university, sought to clarify its relationship with Hinn after the popular evangelist recently announced a partnership with "Liberty University Institute of Biblical Studies in Lynchburg, Virginia" online and via his television program.
Corry emphasized in its response to CP's inquiry that it maintains ownership of both the Institute of Biblical Studies and the Liberty Home Bible Institute, and that it was courses from the Institute of Biblical Studies that Hinn was promoting.
"Whether you're a pastor, lay leader, or in full-time ministry, your membership with World Healing Fellowship will allow you to take a biblical program of study through Liberty University Institute of Biblical Studies that will equip you with rock-solid teaching and a Bible-centered curriculum that is without equal," reads the announcement on BennyHinn.org. "Upon completion of this course you will receive a diploma from Liberty University, qualify to enroll in advanced Liberty University Institute of Biblical Studies courses, and become eligible to obtain college credit from Liberty University!"
The announcement was accompanied by a video of Hinn discussing the partnership and program with Reber, identified as the "director" of the Institute of Biblical Studies in the video, and as a "longtime donor to Liberty University," according to Corry. Dr. Ronald Godwin, senior vice president for academic affairs/provost at Liberty University, was also on the program.
An 11-minute video excerpt from Hinn's "This is Your Day" television program, broadcast around the world and nationally on TBN, God TV and Daystar, and other networks, features Dr. Godwin, who lauded the university's growth and its program expansions.
Asked by Hinn to "explain the connection between the university and the institute," Godwin said that the later is Reber's organization. "But the content that is produced and published by that institute is recognized by Liberty University, because it is of the highest quality."
Hinn went on to ask, "Is the institute like a branch of the university, or totally separate?"
Godwin stated that institute was a "separate entity," and added that "it is recognized and endorsed by Liberty University."
Corry informed CP that: "Dr. Ron Godwin was mistaken when he stated on television that Liberty's Institute of Biblical Studies was operated by Mr. Reber. It is owned and operated by Liberty University on Liberty's campus. By contract, the Liberty Home Bible Institute, a program not mentioned on Hinn's program, has been operated by Mr. Reber at a location outside the campus of Liberty University, within the County of Bedford, Virginia, since August of 2011."
In regards to Godwin's appearance on Hinn's program with Reber, Liberty U.'s Corry insisted the provost had been "misinformed."
"It is true that a senior administrator of Liberty University appeared on a Benny Hinn program where a certificate program was promoted, but no other Liberty officials had prior notice of the planned broadcast," reads the statement. "The administrator appeared after he was misinformed regarding the extent of Mr. Reber's contract rights. Again, Liberty University is not involved in any cooperative venture with Benny Hinn."
CP was unable to contact Reber for comment via Mail America Communications, Inc., of which he is listed as founder.
Watch the video excert of "This Is You Day" featuring Hinn, Reber and Godwin in the player below:
Liberty University was founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College, and has since become the largest Evangelical Christian university in the world. The university, currently led by Jerry Falwell, Jr., boasts about 12,600 undergrads and 90,000 online students. The school is also known for organizing an impressive list of who's who of individuals from religious, political and entertainment spheres for its Convocation every semester.
Hinn, known for his global crusades, has been criticized by other Christians for his claims to miraculously heal people of various ailments through empowerment by God, as well for teaching that God's blessings or favor are dependent on financial giving. Various news investigations over the years have cast doubt on Hinn's "miracle healings." The 61-year-old evangelist is in his 40th year of ministry.
Questions from The Christian Post sent via email with responses provided by Mr. David Corry, general counsel at Liberty University, follow below:
CP: What is Liberty University's relationship with Mr. Dan Reber?
Corry: Dan Reber is a longtime donor to Liberty University. Personally and through his companies, he has provided various services to Liberty University over the years, especially in the area of direct marketing.
CP: What is Liberty University's relationship with Mr. Reber's Liberty Bible Institute?
Corry: We are not aware of Mr. Reber having a Liberty Bible Institute. One of his companies markets courses for Liberty University's Liberty Home Bible Institute and our Institute of Biblical Studies, two non-accredited biblical studies certificate programs offered by Liberty University's Center for Professional and Continuing Education. In 2011, Mr. Reber took on additional responsibilities to operate the Liberty Home Bible Institute on behalf of Liberty University but was not authorized to make changes in the program without the consent of Liberty University. Please note that courses from the Institute of Biblical Studies, not Liberty Home Bible Institute, were being promoted on Benny Hinn's program.
CP: Does Mr. Reber's Institute operate from Liberty University's campus or other property?
Corry: Dr. Ron Godwin was mistaken when he stated on television that Liberty's Institute of Biblical Studies was operated by Mr. Reber. It is owned and operated by Liberty University on Liberty's campus. By contract, the Liberty Home Bible Institute, a program not mentioned on Hinn's program, has been operated by Mr. Reber at a location outside the campus of Liberty University, within the County of Bedford, Virginia, since August of 2011.
CP: Does Liberty University provide any resources to Mr. Reber's Institute?
Corry: Yes, Liberty provides resources to Mr. Reber in connection with his operation of the LHBI (again, the program not mentioned in the Hinn video). Examples include the rights to reproduce program materials, computerized scoring equipment, presence on Liberty University's website, letterhead, email redirection, telephone redirection, completion certificates and certain other benefits to graduates of the program.