How could Brewton-Parker trustees justify hiring a man who has been caught on a multitude of audio and video recordings lying about himself (and has been aggressively unrepentant) to run their Christian college? That was the question for many of us who were concerned about integrity and credibility, as the lost world sees a Southern Baptist College plainly dismissive about such public sin and scandal. Did the trustees not know? Did David Wallace – the man in charge of communicating with the public over this issue during the hiring process – not give them the evidence we sent him? Did he not tell them our concerns? Had they not yet discovered the Internet, the one place where religious cronyism can’t make things just disappear?
We (a Pulpit & Pen contributing writer) gained clarity by speaking on several occasions with none other than David Wallace – filling in on an interim basis until Peter Lumpkins could take some of the additional responsibilities that were added to him during his tenure as the Director of Development. Originally signing on in a part-time position to write grants for the college, former President Simoneaux asked Wallace to take on these additional communication responsibilities. Although eager at times to pass the buck to his replacement, Peter Lumpkins, in the new position of VP of Communications, Wallace was able to share some valuable information with us. In fact, he reiterated that he shared information with us that was “exclusive information” directly from what was given to him by search committee person Linda Yawn and “that no one else has this information.”
Although some of the info given to us by Wallace in our question-and-answer sessions (including those instrumental in the presidential search committee and who the “men of reknown” were that gave their recommendation to BPC for Caner) will be reserved for The Caner Project documentary, one interesting piece will be shared now. What were the trustees thinking? How could BPC trustees hire a man who has told lie after lie about himself for nearly a decade?
Answer: Ergun Caner is just like disgraced Coach George O’Leary. According to Wallace, the general consensus was that “it’s common for a man, if he’s a had a setback, to still prosper.”
This was the illustration given to us by Wallace in multiple conversations concerning the trustee board’s feelings toward Caner. According to Wallace, the George O’Leary illustration is the trustee’s rationale for hiring Ergun Caner.
In case you’re not familiar, George O’Leary was – for a brief time – the head coach for Notre Dame. Prior to that, O’Leary was a successful coach for Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. O’Leary, who is in his own rights a successful head coach, is best known for his dismissal from Notre Dame for lies in his biography. His bio – created twenty years before – stated that he earned three letters in football at the University of New Hampshire. He never played a game. Once caught on this lie by a journalist, he then also freely admitted to fabricating a Masters Degree from a non-existent institution. O’Leary immediately resigned and apologized for disgracing himself and the institutions he had worked for. Since that time, O’Leary has reestablished himself at the University of Central Florida and has had several successful seasons.
There are some interesting things here.
First, this is an acknowledgement from a Brewton-Parker official – apparently emboldened by retirement (he scheduled his last day on the job, after he left for home, to speak to us) – that the trustees knew very well that Caner had lied. O’Leary was not set up, neither was he framed nor misunderstood. O’Leary lied. Again, this was the rationale given us by Wallace on multiple occasions.
Secondly, it should be pointed out that O’Leary – after being caught – willingly confessed other lies that were not yet in the open. This, of course, has not been the path of Ergun Caner. Instead, he has chosen to sue Southern Baptist Pastors for copyright claims of videos for which he doesn’t own the copyright. Caner is the only preacher in America actively seeking to remove his preaching from the public’s view. Caner has been defiant and aggressive toward those who’ve pointed out his lies, while O’Leary humbly apologized and was brought to repentance. To this day, in spite of the multitude of evidence alleging everything from being born and raised in Turkey (neither is true), speaking Arabic and Turkish (neither is true), fabricating over 60 debates he never had, and dozens of other things about his life that will be uncovered in The Caner Project, Ergun Caner has yet to repent or acknowledge any sin. He has only “apologized” for misstating the names of people he never debated and for implying (accidentally, according to him) that casual discussions were “debates.”
Third, the Catholic Notre Dame and Coach O’Leary showed more integrity than what has thus far been demonstrated by Liberty University (who, to their credit at least demoted Caner), Arlington Baptist College and Brewton-Parker College. Christian standards, one would think, should be higher than that of the world.
Fourth, a twenty year-old lie eventually caught up to O’Leary. Caner continues to lie and continues to conceal audio to hide it.
What’s most disturbing here is the trustee’s justification that just because someone has had a “set-back” (read that: repeatedly sinned) they should still be able to “prosper.” Prospering aside, I think the concept Wallace said the trustees were grasping for is called “restoration.” There can be no Biblical restoration, of course, without repentance (Hebrews 12:11).
As new Brewton-Parker appointees Peter Lumpkins and CB Scott refuse to answer the question as to whether or not Caner lied repeatedly about his life (a demonstration of the deficit of integrity to begin with), the Brewton Parker trustees are rationalizing their hire by acknowledging that he did lie. And sadly, they point to a man with more repentance than Ergun Caner and assert his “right to prosper.”