Archive for the ‘Gullible Christians’ Category


The Religious Right habitually camouflages it’s nefarious Christian Nationalist Worldview behind a phoney “pro-Israel” facade.

Religious fanatic John Hagee believes god sent Hitler to exterminate Jews and thus, as act and prophetic directive of his god, obviously a righteous and just genocide.

Like Catholic Hitler, John Hagee believes that unless Jews are converted to his Christ, they will be eradicated in the fires of hell that is, their final annihilation.

One has to wonder how even certain Right Wing Jews can be so utterly blind and continue support a religious buffoon who considers the destruction of Jews an inexorable, righteous and prophetic dictate — of his
psychopathic god?!


10 Signs God Is Furious With the Right
Whatever disaster strikes, there’s always an upside in
religious rightland, always somebody to point the finger at with glee. Let’s
turn the tables.
September 16, 2011  |
Editor’s note: the following is satire… for the most part.

Why is it that whenever disaster strikes, right-wing religious nuts seem to
have all the fun? Some might say it’s just because they’re sadists, but they
always seem to find the silver lining. 9/11? God’s calling on America to repent!
(No, not for it’s foreign policy, you dummy!) Hurricane Katrina? It was that
darned homosexual parade the organizers forgot to tell anyone about!

Whatever disaster strikes, there’s always an up-side in religious rightland,
always somebody to point the finger at with glee. How come they get all the
fun?

So when the East Coast got a one-two punch last month, earthquake-hurricane
within a few days of one another, it got me thinking. When another hurricane
followed up afterward, it was more than I could bear. And so, I offer you a list
of God’s Top 10 Targets from a
not-so-right-but-possibly-more-righteous point of view.

There are at least three different ways to approach this subject, and we have
examples of all three. First is to identify specific target groups for repeated
offenses—sinners who just won’t mend their ways. Second is to identify
geographic targets for specific offenses—sin city or state, as the case may be.
Third is to identify specific individuals.

1. Republicans, for bearing false witness.

It’s not just one of the Ten Commandments — the Bible has repeated warnings
against slander, false testimony and plain old lying. But Republicans apparently
think that God was talking to somebody else—the exact opposite of their usual
assumption—especially since Barack Obama arrived on the scene. Obama was born in
Kenya, he is a Muslim, he’s a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist, he hates white
people (like his mom and his grandparents), he hangs out with terrorists. It
goes on and on and on.

God has repeatedly told them not to act like this—yet they pay Him no mind.
It’s not just Obama, either. When it comes to science, things get just as bad,
be it evolution, global warming, reproductive health, or gender orientation;
when the science isn’t on their side, the lying and slander take up the slack.
It’s not just that the science is against them, you see. Scientists are
fraudsters; they are always conspiring against God and his people, according to
some of the more whacked out types—like GOP senators, for example. God may have
a great deal of patience, but when folks start trying to drag Him into the mix,
that’s when the earthquakes and hurricanes begin.

2. The Religious Right, for ignoring Jesus on the separation of
church and state.

More than 1,600 years before John Locke and 1,700 years before Thomas
Jefferson weighed in on the subject, Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar
that which is Caesar’s and unto God those things which are God’s.” (What’s more,
he said that, in part, as a way of opting out of a tax revolt!) But the
Religious Right defiantly continues to oppose Him. God’s been extremely patient
with them over the years, but that patience has finally run out, as the most
anti-separationist elements of the Religious Right—known as dominionists—have come increasingly to the fore.

Some might say they’re embarrassing Him personally. Others will say it’s starting to get
really dangerous. Whatever the reason, God’s had enough.

3. The nativist right and the GOP, for a rash of anti-immigrant
laws.

“Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in
the land of Egypt.” Exodus 22:21 could not be clearer—unless, of course, we
switched from the King James Bible to the New International Version: “Do not
mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.”

But for some in the GOP, them’s fightin’ words. All they can think about is
disobeying God. They are positively possessed with the Satanic spirit of
disobedience. It began with Arizona’s SB-1070 last year. And while a number of
states followed Arizona’s lead with anti-immigrant laws of their own, the most
notorious was Alabama, which faced “a
historic outbreak of severe weather” in April.

The same day the law was signed, Alabama’s Episcopal, Methodist and Roman
Catholic churches filed a separate lawsuit, claiming the law unconstitutionally
interferes with their right of religious freedom. Church leaders said the law
“will make it a crime to follow God’s command.” Among other things, the suit
said, “The bishops have reason to fear that administering of religious
sacraments, which are central to the Christian faith, to known undocumented
persons may be criminalized under this law.”  If criminalizing Christian
sacraments isn’t inviting divine retribution, what is?

4. The predatory lending industry and all who enable
them.

There are numerous Bible passages condemning usury. Typical of these is
Exodus 22:25: “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do
not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest.” Naturally, the whole of
modern capitalism is built on ignoring a broad reading of this. But predatory
lending is a particularly egregious form of defiance. It’s proved rather costly
to our country as well.

A Wall Street Journal article on December 31, 2007 reported that Ameriquest Mortgage
and Countrywide Financial, two of the largest U.S. mortgage lenders, spent $20.5
million and $8.7 million respectively in political donations, campaign
contributions, and lobbying activities between 2002 and 2006 in order to defeat
anti-predatory lending legislation. Such practices contributed significantly to
the financial crisis that plunged us into the Great Recession. But it seems that
wasn’t a clear enough lesson, especially since those who lobbied most intensely
benefited most from the bailouts as well, according to an IMF
study
. So earthquakes and hurricanes are an old school, Old Testament way
for God to make his point.

5. The GOP, for its contempt for the poor.

For more than half a century, the GOP has attacked Democrats and liberals for
their concern for the poor. At least since the 1980s, the neo-liberal wing of
the Democratic Party has tried to distance themselves from the poor, and
reposition the party as defenders of the middle class, instead. The GOP has
responded with policies to impoverish the middle class as well, so that they can
be safely demonized, too.

But the GOP’s venom for all but the wealthy has reached new heights during
the Great Recession. Not only should those who caused the crisis be taken care
of while all others suffer—far too many national Democratic politicians seem to
agree on that one—but a renewed rhetoric of contempt for the poor has emerged,
in direct contradiction to what Jesus said, in Luke 6:20: “Blessed are you who
are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

Increasingly, it seems, Republicans don’t think poor people are even
human. In January 2010, South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Baurer (R) compared poor people to stray animals: He told an audience
that his grandmother told him “as a small child to quit feeding stray animals.
You know why? Because they breed.” He compared this to government assistance,
which he said is “facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person
ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too
much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail
that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.” Then, in early August,
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, the frontrunner for the GOP senate
nomination, compared poor people to scavenging racoons. Talk like that is
what causes earthquakes and hurricanes.

6. Privatized public utilities, for the worship of
Mammon.

Public utilities are natural monopolies, totally unsuited to private
enterprise, since there is no competitive marketplace. This, of course, makes
them perfect targets for monopoly capitalists—Mammon’s greatest worshipers.

Against them, God struck a mighty blow. In Mansfield, Massachusetts, which
has had its own municipal power service since 1903, electrical service was
restored for most customers within 24 hours after Irene hit, even though 4,000
out of 9,500 households had lost power—quite unlike what happened to nearby
communities served by a commercial outfit. According to a local report, the storm “uprooted old trees and knocked down
utility lines all over town.”

“Unlike homes and businesses in Easton, Norton and Foxboro, however, local
customers did not have to wait for National Grid to respond with crews or listen
to a recording on the telephone…. [M]uch of Easton waited three days for power
to return and areas of communities such as Foxboro are still in the dark.”
According to another report, about Foxborough, “The outrage expressed… is
similar to the movie Network in the scene where people flung open their windows
and said, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.’”

Then there are a couple of geographically specific targets:

7. Virginia.

Virginia was the site of the earthquake’s epicenter and the second state
where Irene made landfall, so the state is a target-rich environment.

There’s House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. On God’s bulls-eye scale, the
epicenter near Mineral, Virginia is in Cantor’s district—a direct hit. And in
budget negotiations this year, Cantor’s contempt for the poor came through loud
and clear. He’s been the most aggressive congressional leader when it comes to
budget-cutting and pushing the economy as hard as possible over the cliff. Then,
after the earthquake hit, Cantor said any federal relief would have to be offset
with spending cuts, and quipped, “Obviously, the problem is that people in
Virginia don’t have earthquake insurance.” He reiterated his demand for offsetting cuts when Hurricane Irene hit shortly
afterward—even though he voted against such a provision after Tropical Storm Gaston hit
the Richmond area in 2004.

Then there’s Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. No way he escapes
God’s wrath. Cuccinelli’s widely criticized witch-hunt against eminent climate scientist Michael Mann
represents the most extreme right-wing attack on the mythical “climate-gate”
scandal, which consisted primarily of scientists making snide remarks about
ignoramuses like Cuccinelli. He’s all wrapped up in sin of bearing false
witness. Which is where Hurricane Irene comes in—although it surely doesn’t help
that Cuccinelli is suing to keep people sick, and has told Virginia’s colleges
and universities that they can’t ban anti-gay discrimination.

And, of course, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has tried to have it both
ways with God, as well as with the people of Virginia. On the one hand, all the
way back in 1989, he wrote a Christian Reconstructionist M.A. thesis, “The
Republican Party’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade” at
the College of Law at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. McDonnell’s authorship
of the thesis came to light during his 2009 campaign for governor, but because
the establishment is in deep denial about Dominionism in general, and Christian Reconstructionism in
particular, the full weight of his thesis never really sunk in. On the other
hand, McDonnell has tried very assiduously to walk away from that past, given
that almost no one wants to admit to such extreme views. He’s wobbled back and forth on a number of issues, but generally
tried to strike a reasonable demeanor—in sharp contrast to Cuccinelli. But God
doesn’t like folks who run hot and cold, which is why McDonnell’s a target,
too.

Finally, just to be a wee bit bipartisan about it, we need to include
Virginia’s Democratic Senator Mark Warner in our list—though with a bit of
twist. On the day of the earthquake, Warner was scheduled to speak at the
Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpepper,
Virginia. He arrived about 10 minutes after the quake, according to the local Star Exponent, which reported:

The building had been emptied of its staff and the approximate 75 people who
came to hear Warner so the former governor talked from under a tree atop Mount
Pony.

“I was not going to mention the fact that one of the last times I was in
Culpeper there was a tornado,” he said of an appearance years ago at
CulpeperFest marked by wild weather. “If you don’t want me to come back, there’s
an easier way to do this. If we start seeing frogs, it may be a sign of things
to come,” he said.

So it’s not that God is angry with Warner, exactly. He just targets Warner
for amusement, to see what he’ll say next. And, of course, because he, too,
represents Virginia, truly a state of sin.

8. North Carolina.

Hurricane Irene could have barreled directly into South Carolina, but it
delivered a stiff upper-cut to North Carolina instead. And why not? Governor Bev
Perdue tried her darnedest to protect the state. She vetoed its draconian budget
bill, only to see her veto over-ridden. It too was an attack on the poor — the bill
didn’t just fail to balance spending cuts with tax increases, it actually let a
temporary one-cent sales tax expire, along with some income taxes on high
earners, while cutting $124 million in local education funding on top of $305
million cut in previous years. Perdue also vetoed a highly restrictive abortion
law—one that, among other things, has a 24-hour waiting period, and force-feeds
anti-abortion propaganda to women seeking an abortion—call it the “Bearing False
Witness By Doctors Act.” But that veto was over-ridden as well—by a single vote in the
state senate. So, really, God’s hand was forced on this one. He had no choice
but to strike North Carolina, and strike it hard.

Finally, there are two individual targets to consider:

9. Rick Perry.

While the one-two punch of the Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene were
far removed from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s stomping grounds, God had not
forgotten Perry, but was merely preparing to toy with him. Perry, after all, had
responded to a terrible drought in Texas not by implementing any long-term
policy measures (which might make Texas better able to deal with the prospects
of more severe droughts to come as global warming impacts increase), but by
calling on Texans to pray.

Back in April, Perry proclaimed the “three-day period from Friday, April 22,
2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of
Texas.” Since then, however, things have only gotten worse, as Timothy Egan noted in the NY Times “Opinionator”
blog, “[A] rainless spring was followed by a rainless summer. July was the
hottest month in recorded Texas history….Nearly all of Texas  is now in
‘extreme or exceptional’ drought, as classified by federal meteorologists, the
worst in Texas history. Lakes have disappeared. Creeks are phantoms, the caked
bottoms littered with rotting, dead fish.”

Somehow, though, it seemed like most folks outside of Texas had no idea of
Perry’s failed prayer initiative. That’s where God came in, following up Irene
with the tantalizing prospect of a Gulf of Mexico storm that would finally bring
relief to the Longhorn state. But alas no. First Tropical Storm Jose petered out
entirely, then Tropical Storm Lee turned to Louisiana instead. If you pray with
Perry, you obviously take the Lord’s name in vain. As one frustrated Texan wrote on Reddit, “Perry’s prayer has been answered. The answer
was ‘No’.” God is making things perfectly clear, as Richard Nixon would say: If
you want someone praying for America in the White House, Rick Perry is not your
guy.

10 God.

Yes, it’s true, God Himself was one of the main targets of God’s wrath,
particularly during the earthquake, which did remarkably little damage to the
living. But, as Rob Kerby noted at BeliefNet, churches took some pretty hard hits:

“Churches seemed to bear the brunt of Tuesday’s 5.8 earthquake on the East
Coast.

“Significant damage was reported to Washington, D.C.’s National Cathedral and
St. Peter’s Catholic Church, historic St. Patrick’s Church near Baltimore, and
two churches in Culpepper, Va., close to the epicenter — St. Stephen Episcopal
Church and Culpepper Christian Assembly.”

Okay, so maybe God’s not self-flagellating. Maybe it’s the tenants who are
being targeted. But who’s to say, really? And if the God’s wrath biz is all
about appropriating authority to cast blame around, then why not think really
big, and proclaim God Himself to be the target? Pat Robertson & company have
monopolized this gig for far too long. If the rest of us are to have any hope of
catching up, we’re got to make ourselves a splash. And what better way to make a
splash than proclaiming that God is the target?


Christian Right’s Favorite Muslim Convert Exposed as Jihadi Fraud
Liberty Seminary President Ergun Caner claims he traveled the road ‘from jihad to Jesus,’ but Baptist bloggers say his stories of terrorist training are false.
 EDITOR’S NOTE: Since AlterNet’s publication of this story earlier in the day, Liberty University announced the formation of a committee to investigate the allegations against Ergun Caner, president of the university’s theological seminary, laid out in Peter Montgomery’s article. “Liberty does not initiate personnel evaluations based upon accusations from Internet blogs,” Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., said in a brief statement published on Liberty’s Web site. “However, In light of the fact that several newspapers have raised questions, we felt it necessary to initiate a formal inquiry.” (H/t, Apprising Ministries Web site.)

Ergun Caner’s rise to the top of conservative evangelical celebrity — and to the presidency of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell — was fueled by how aggressively he capitalized on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to portray himself as a personal example of the power of Jesus to save even someone raised as a jihadist, which he claimed to be.

There’s only one problem with that part of Caner’s story: it appears not to be true.

In 2001, Caner was pastoring a church in Colorado. After 9/11, he became a hot commodity on the speaking circuit as someone who knew about the evils of Islam firsthand. Before the shock waves from the terror attacks had died down, he was lacing his sermons with his own tale of having been raised in Turkey as the son of a religious leader and trained in a madrassa to wage jihad against Americans.

He said he’d learned about America from TV shows — “Dukes of Hazzard” in some tellings, “Dallas” or “Andy Griffith” in others. He talked about learning English after moving to Brooklyn as a teenager. His personal testimony was used to sell books and videotapes. In one 2001 sermon, “From Jihad to Jesus,” he said he didn’t know much about Christians the first 17 years of his life because “there’s not that many of them in Turkey.” One CD was until recently marketed this way: “Do you believe God can change the heart of a hardened terrorist? Former Muslim Ergun Caner, who came to America to be a terrorist, shares his testimony of how he came to know Jesus Christ.”

All that made for great post-9/11 storytelling. And it helped Caner and his brother, Emir, sell a lot of books. (In 2002 they published and promoted Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs, one of many books bearing the Caner name.) In 2005, Caner was appointed to his current post as president of Liberty University Theological Seminary.

In recent months, a group of Muslim and Christian bloggers have made an airtight case against many of Caner’s fabrications using the kind of documentation — videos, podcasts, recorded sermons — the digital age makes possible.

The Life Stories of Ergun “Mehmet” Caner

Here’s the basic outline of Ergun Caner’s actual life story, as told in some of his books and public appearances and pieced together from public records in recent months by bloggers. Ergun Caner was born in 1966 in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Turkish father. His parents settled in Ohio a few years later and were divorced when Caner was 8. Caner lived with his mother and spent time and religious holidays with his father.

His parents tussled over the terms of the divorce settlement and the degree to which his Muslim father would control his religious upbringing. As a teenager, Caner became a Christian. His father disowned him after his conversion, but his brothers, mother and grandmother also eventually became Christians. Caner earned undergraduate and graduate degrees (some of which he misstated until a recent bio revision on Liberty’s Web site), and entered the ministry.

Before 2001, he seems to have gone by Ergun Michael Caner or E. Michael Caner — or Butch Caner, which is what he says his wife calls him. Ergun Michael Caner is the name on his concealed carry gun permit, issued in 2009 by the Commonwealth of Virginia. But after 2001, Caner’s middle name, Michael, was replaced with the exotic-to-American-ears “Mehmet” on the covers of his books.

Ergun Caner is unquestionably a polished and entertaining performer. He stands out among conservative evangelicals with defiant rhetoric designed to elicit “did he really say that?” titters and a frisson of naughtiness from his audience. Part of Caner’s performing persona is his own brand of shock humor, which often relies on racial, ethnic and sexist humor. Speaking to one largely white audience, Caner joked about worship in black churches, where he said they pass the plate 12 times, women wear hats the size of satellite dishes and men wear blue suits that match their shoes and a handkerchief that matches their car. One black Baptist preacher asked for an apology.

At a conference in Seattle a few years ago, Caner joked about the Mexican students at Liberty this way:

“The Mexican students and I get along real well. They’re my boys. I always joke with ’em, I say ‘Man, if I ever adopt, I want to adopt a Mexican because I need work done on my roof. [laughter], and, and uh, I got a big lawn….

At an Ohio men’s conference in 2007, he got the audience whooping and shouting with this gem:

“Dr. Caner, do you believe in women behind the pulpit? My answer is well, yeah, of course, how are they going to vacuum back there unless they get behind it….[laughter]…..and that’s going to be in half of your pulpits next Sunday. FEEL FREE!!! I LOVE THAT LINE!! But you know one line like that shuts it all up, ’cause they’re not going to talk about it, and they’re not going to talk to you for a while, which is good, which is good.

Sin and Redemption

The human story of sin and redemption is a fundamental theme in Christianity. When stars of the conservative evangelical movement have succumbed to the lure of sexual temptation, they have often won forgiveness on the force of a public confession. It has worked for politicians as well as preachers. So why is Ergun Caner, under fire for lying about the life story that catapulted him to evangelical stardom, refusing to repent and passing up the chance to earn redemption? And why is Liberty University supporting his stonewalling?

Since ascending to the helm of Liberty’s theological seminary, Caner has tripled student enrollment, due in no small part to his celebrity. That’s given him a prominent platform from which to speak and publish. It’s also given him some powerful allies with a strong incentive to protect his reputation. Rather than admitting that Caner lied about his upbringing in ways that made his “from jihad to Jesus” story (not to be confused with a book by that title by Jerry Rassamni) more compelling and marketable, Caner and Liberty University have hunkered down, portraying Caner as the victim of persecution and lashing out at his critics. At the same time, they’ve been working to strip some incriminating material from the Internet.

That’s going to keep the story boiling in the Baptist — and Muslim –blogosphere. And some think it’s a disastrous course for Caner, for Liberty, and for the religion and movement they represent.

It was a 20-something Muslim blogger, Mohammed Khan, who started bringing attention to problems with Caner’s public “testimony.” Khan believes Caner is out to give Muslims a bad name, and his Web site, fakeexmuslims.com, has used YouTube commentaries of Caner on video to challenge Caner’s expertise on Islam and to question whether Caner was, as he insists, a “devout” Muslim. (As this story was being prepared, many of those were taken down at least temporarily by a copyright claim.)

But that question hasn’t generated nearly as much interest among Christian bloggers as the easily verifiable discrepancies in Caner’s personal story. It’s especially troubling, they say, because that story is tied to the story he tells about the power of the gospel, the story that fueled his rise to a position of authority.

Here’s how Oklahoma pastor and blogger Wade Burleson summarized it, disputing Caner’s claims:

The myth Dr. Caner has created about himself seems now to be unraveling. He never came to America “via Beirut and Cairo.” He has never been trained as a fundamentalist Muslim. He has never had been a jihadist. He has never debated top Muslim scholars, in Nebraska or anywhere else. It is impossible for any of us to understand why someone would fabricate or embellish his past, but there’s a great deal of money to be made selling books and DVDs about Islam in post 9/11. Who’s a better expert on the subject than a radical jihadist who has converted to faith in Jesus Christ, right?

Here’s how Tom Chantry, pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Milwaukee puts it:

Preachers are witnesses to the gospel of Christ, and like all witnesses, when they are compromised they weaken the case. Furthermore, no witness can do more damage to his own case than an expert witness….When a preacher allows himself to deceive in any way he invites the sinner to pounce upon his error and heap scorn upon the gospel. Embellishment from the pulpit is therefore a deadly error which may do inestimable damage to the immortal souls of our fellow men. What are we to think of any preacher who regularly and repeatedly tells stories which are not true and publishes facts which are not facts?

Baptist blogger Tom Rich recalls being in the pews at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, when Caner came to speak just six weeks after the 9/11 attacks. When he started reading about the Caner controversy recently, he went back and listened to that sermon, and it confirmed what he remembered: With people still reeling from the terror attacks, Caner portrayed himself as someone who had been trained to carry out that kind of attack on America. It made for a powerful testimony.

Now, Rich says, he believes Caner was simply being opportunistic:

Unbelievable. Standing in front of shell-shocked Christians after 9/11, and Caner betrays their confidence by lying about where he was raised, where he learned English, and when he came to America. That is deception. A man that is misusing the pulpit to purposely mislead people about who he is and where he is from has no business being in the pulpit.

But several of Caner’s most vocal critics have said they’re not trying to get him fired — they just want him to tell the truth and apologize to those he deceived. But Liberty University officials have apparently decided it’s more important to protect the Ergun Caner brand. Southern Baptists and Liberty University have invested a lot in Caner’s persona, and now, in the words of one blogger, he’s “too big to fail.”

Back in February, in an effort to brush the controversy aside, Caner put out a statement some of his defenders characterize as an admission or apology. Here’s a portion of what it said:

I have never intentionally misled anyone. I am sure I have made many mistakes in the pulpit in the past 20-plus years, and I am sure I will make some in the future. For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better.

This statement satisfied some people who want the controversy to go away, but it only inflamed others. Trying to pass off his false claims as mistakes feels to some critics like compounding the original lies with equally and embarrassingly transparent new ones. Caner has since pulled that statement from his Web site, but it’s still online at a Southern Baptist news site.

The Persecution of Ergun Caner

The current controversy about Caner’s “embellishments” is not the first one the pugnacious Caner has found himself in. He’s been part of sometimes heated debate over Calvinist theology within the Southern Baptist Convention. He’s a critic of one evangelical strategy for proselytizing to Muslims, and in February he called the president of the denomination’s International Mission Board a liar, for which he has since apologized. His word for fellow Baptists who might complain about Glenn Beck, a Mormon, being asked to speak at Liberty’s graduation? “Haters.”

Caner and his backers have energetically played the religious persecution card and attacked the motives and even faith of his critics. Caner wrote in a memo to Liberty faculty that “I never thought I would see the day when alleged ‘Christians’ join with Muslims to attack converts.” Both Khan and Baptist bloggers who continue to call for Caner to come clean have been barraged with hostile commentary.

Pastor Wade Burleson says that when one of his congregants, blogger Debbie Kaufman, first asked him about the Caner controversy, he told her he wasn’t interested. She poked around on her own and wrote a post asking questions about some of the discrepancies in Caner’s record. The response from Caner and his supporters was swift.

Burleson says he got an urgent call from someone insisting he get Kaufman to take down her post, which the caller said was putting Caner’s life and family in jeopardy. Startled, Burleson read the post and was astonished to discover that Kaufman was only asking questions about Caner’s truthfulness. He said as much in a comment on her blog. But the pressure intensified; Burleson says Caner even called Burleson’s father to put pressure on him.

Liberty University pulled Caner’s disputed bio, and put up a stripped-down version that reportedly was personally approved by the chancellor. Other incriminating or embarrassing materials have been pulled offline after Caner critics called attention to them. Focus on the Family, for example, broadcast Caner’s 2001 “From Jesus to Jihad” sermon on its April 26, 2010 program. In that sermon, Caner said he didn’t know much about Christians the first 17 years of his life because “there’s not that many of them in Turkey or in Sweden.” But that broadcast has since disappeared from the online Focus archives.

Liberty University was silent until last week, when Elmer Towns, dean of the school of religion, told Christianity Today the university’s board was satisfied that Caner has done nothing “theologically inappropriate.” Said Towns, “It’s not an ethical issue, it’s not a moral issue. We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage. The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court.” The Christianity Today headline framed the story as an attack on Caner: “Bloggers Target Seminary President.”

In response to the Christianity Today story, one of Caner’s critics wrote on his blog:

So Caner’s deception is not “ethical” or “moral.” If I were a lost person, this would be a huge step forward in my belief that Christianity itself is a lie, and Christian leaders are mostly hypocritical charlatans selling their spiritual elixirs, whose “ethical” and “moral” standards are much lower than the average non-Christian.

Some Baptist bloggers say Liberty is sending a message to its students that celebrity is more important than integrity. One of them, Oklahoma pastor Burleson, says he can no longer recommend Liberty to potential students.

‘Get out of our way’

Caner’s critics insist their goal is not his personal destruction. Several of the bloggers campaigning for truth-telling and apologies said they believe Caner is a powerful speaker and talented leader. They would support him keeping his job if only he would apologize. Tom Rich says that in one of Caner’s books, Why Churches Die, the besieged seminary president wrote that public sin requires public repentance. And what is more of a public sin, Rich asks, than standing in the pulpit at First Baptist Jacksonville and lying to thousands of people about having been trained to kill Americans the way the 9/11 hijackers did?

Asked why Caner and Liberty would refuse the path of public repentance in the face of such clear evidence, Burleson says he is “baffled,” and insists he is not Caner’s enemy. “He is my friend and my brother in Christ.” Burleson says he, like many others, is not above the temptation to embellish. He thinks that a public admission of wrongdoing and an apology would bring an end to the story. But the Liberty response — pretending it never happened, circling the wagon, making other people the problem — is “the height of dysfunction,” he says. And the longer such stonewalling persists, the worse it will be — for Caner and for Liberty.

It’s not clear how this will end. Some bloggers have circulated a draft resolution with the notion that they would bring it before the Southern Baptist Convention, but it’s extremely unlikely that convention officials would ever let it get to the floor. After the story broke out of the blogosphere last week into Christianity Today, the Associated Baptist Press did a more in-depth story. The increased attention to Caner’s well-documented deceptions may make it harder for Liberty University to make them go away.

Caner seems to hope his celebrity and his bluster will carry him through. His attitude toward his critics seems to mirror the attitude he expressed in his speech at last fall’s Values Voter Summit. He ended his talk with this message to Christians he said were not being outspoken enough on the issues of the day: “You need to preach, teach, and reach, or just shut up and get out of our way.”

NOTE: This article has been corrected. The quote from Elmer Towns, dean of Liberty University’s school of religion, contained an error in transcription in the original version.