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Liberty University Dean Demoted After AlterNet Investigation

Ergun Caner, dean of a religious right seminary, claimed to be a former jihadist whose heart was changed by Jesus. But he never was, and now he's no longer dean.

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The reaction to Liberty's announcement has been mixed. Some Caner supporters have actually said that the demotion-but-not-firing was an "exoneration" of Caner because it affirmed that he converted from Islam as a teenager. Others found the notion of exoneration in his demotion "delusional."

Gene Clyatt, author of the Christian blog, A Squirrel in Babylon, is among those who are appalled at Liberty’s use of euphemisms, such as "misstatements" and "factual statements that are self-contradictory."

No, what Dr. Caner did is called lying. He has deliberately, repeatedly, & knowingly told audiences things about himself & his upbringing that he knew were untrue….Instead of addressing Caner's lies head on, Liberty University has chosen to, once again, try to sweep the whole mess under the rug. Knowing that the evidence is too overwhelming to ignore completely, Liberty University has made a token gesture in an attempt to appease their critics….

Some bloggers continue to insist that Caner publicly repent and apologize. Other Caner critics have rhetorically asked when they will be receiving apologies from Caner and those of his supporters who had slammed them for allegedly engaging in slander, libel and helping Muslims "tear down" a fellow Christian.

Caner himself has said nothing publicly since an online "apology" in February -- met with derision by his accusers, and subsequently removed from his Web site (but available here) -- in which claimed he "never intentionally misled anyone." His own Web site makes no mention of the controversy but simply states his faculty position at Liberty.

Tom Rich of FBC Jax Watchdog, a high-profile Baptist blogger who has been calling for Caner to repent for lying to people from the pulpit after 9/11, sees Caner's demotion as a victory for the truth over a "decade of deceit":

While many don't think Liberty went far enough, and their statement is certainly embarrassing -- they took the right action, and Caner will be gone about the time a new seminary president is named, in my opinion.

Peter Montgomery is a senior fellow at People For the American Way Foundation.