The Pen

Fox News’ Todd Starnes Promotes Georgia Baptist “Diploma Mill”

Author, Journalist, and Fox News talking head Todd Starnes took to his popular Faceboook page last week to promote Truett-McConnel University (TMU) in Cleveland, Georgia.

TMU hosted the popular conservative commentator during his annual Faith and Freedom Conference in April. TMU president Emir Caner has been a guest on Starnes, Fox News programs. Readers may recognize Emir Caner as the brother and enabler of his disgraced brother, the charlatan Ergun Caner. Readers may not be aware, however, that Emir Caner is the president of a Georgia Baptist University, TMU, which was labeled a “diploma mill” by Time Magazine in a 2014 article entitled “The Worst Diploma Mills and Dropout Factories.”

TMU currently sports a 22% graduation rate and a 91% acceptance rate. Its tuition is one of the highest in its area. Despite its abysmal statistics, TMU is kept alive by the support and donations of the Georiga Baptist Mission Board and its member churches. The children of church members are funneled to the school, which is advertised as a haven of conservative thought where sons and daughters will not be corrupted by the liberalism which is rampant in the American education system. What is not advertised is the abysmal success rate of the average student and the comparatively exorbitant salaries of its administrators (namely Emir Caner).

So why would Todd Starnes recommend TMU? Todd Starnes has a long history with Southern Baptist Press and education. He is the former director of communications for Union University and former staff writer for Baptist Press. His tenure at Union was short and he was fired from Baptist Press due to misrepresentations in his reporting. Nevertheless, his career continues in conservative circles and he has even been allowed to fill the pulpit of Georiga Baptist Pastor Thomas Hammond, who would later become President of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board despite dismal performance as pastor of First Baptist Alpharetta and an unsuccessful career at the North American Mission Board.

The Georgia Baptist Convention is full of men who are some mixture of immoral and incompetent. Todd Starnes and TMU represent them well. Christians, especially in Georiga, should be asking themselves if they feel represented by Starnes, Caner, and TMU. Starnes and his ilk fan the flames of American Nationalism at the expense of being Kingdom-minded.

But does it love Jesus?

In a zeitgeist where the progressive left is trying to claim the church for wokeness, the last thing the right needs is Starnes and company staking a claim for an American cultural Christianity. The moral high ground is certainly not found with George Soros or Russell Moore. It is neither to be found on the opposite side of the spectrum with men like Todd Starnes and Emir Caner.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant