*Please note that the following statement includes my opinion of the deeds and character of Ergun Caner, Georgia Baptist Leadership, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Church of Scientology based upon information to which I have been exposed.
“The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.” L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology
I’m quite certain that Ergun Caner is not a Scientologist. However, while I watched a recent presentation on Scientology by Dr. James Walker, President of the Watchman Fellowship, I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not the charlatan, Dr. Ergun Caner, had adopted some tactics from the Church of Scientology’s playbook. In this piece, I’ll explore the reasons that I drew a connection between the litigious methods of the Church of Scientology and the exploits of Ergun Caner, the charlatan. Drawing on that connection, I’ll explore the negative effects that supporting a man such as Ergun Caner can have on members of the Body of Christ. Finally, I’ll speak to the ignorance that the Georgia Baptist Convention leadership (which hired Ergun Caner to be President of Brewton-Parker College) depends on to keep its good-ole-boy network funded by the tithes and offerings of the faithful, committed, rank-and-file, bible-beveling Christians who fill and fund the pews of Georgia Baptist Churches every Sunday.
Learning About Scientology
The Watchman Fellowship is “an independent Christian research and apologetics ministry focusing on new religious movements, cults, the occult and the New Age.” As such, it’s President, Dr. James Walker teaches Christians about the conflicts between Scientology and Christianity. As noted above, I recently watched James Walker give an informative presentation on Scientology. Dr. Walker told one story about the Watchman Fellowship being sued by the Church of Scientology for $9.5 million for perceived damages and another story about the Watchmen Fellowship Office being infiltrated by a Scientology operative. Somehow the Church of Scientology’s lawyers knew that Dr. Walker’s organization was in possession of secretive Church of Scientology “Operating Thetan literature” and that this literature was “in the Texas office “5th door on the left, 15th filing cabinet, second drawer.” That’s creepy stuff. There’s good reason that the Church of Scientology wouldn’t want this secretive information to get out to the general public. I’ll try to be brief and fair in explaining why:
- Scientology involves the practice of “auditing.” Members of the church go through auditing in order to become “clear” from the effects of what is known as “the reactive mind.”
- After become clear, a scientologist can undergo further auditing to become an “Operating Thetan”
- The cost of these auditing sessions is considerable and can run into the hundreds of thousands, according to Dr. Walker.
- At operating Thetan Level III, the scientologist learns about Xenu , the dictator of the Galactic Confederacy, who 75 million years ago, brought billions of his people to Earth in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them using hydrogen bombs. Official Scientology scriptures hold that the essences of these many people remain, and that they form around people in modern times, causing them spiritual harm.
Would you pay six figures for auditing treatment if you knew that you were going to learn about Xenu towards the end of it? Your answer to that will probably inform your thinking on why the Church of Scientology is known to be litigious and why it sued The Watchman Fellowship for $9.5 million dollars. That particular suit never went to court and the two parties’ agreed, at the behest of the Church of Scientology, not to sue each other for any offense committed in the past 10,000,000 years. Sound ridiculous?
Lawsuits often are ridiculous, but they are also costly and annoying. That is perhaps why L. Ron Hubbard said this in regards to lawsuits:
“The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.”
Lawsuits can put one’s detractors out of business, especially if those detractors already have problems of their own. Dr. Walker noted in his presentation that, through the use of lawsuits, the Church of Scientology has confiscated materials from its detractors. In other words, these (embarrassing) materials (about Xenu) simply disappear from public view.
James Walker and Ergun Caner: The Watchman Connection
So what does any of this business with Scientology, James Walker, The Watchman Fellowship, and Lawsuits have to do with Ergun Caner? Ergun Caner is a former member of the Board of the Watchman Fellowship. James Walker is an adjunct Professor at Arlington Baptist College, the college where Ergun Caner got a job as Vice President after his dismissal from Liberty University. Dr. Walker came out with the following statement about Ergun Caner after the charlatan’ Caner’s lies were first exposed:
“I am saddened to see some Christians joining forces with Muslim bloggers to charge that Dr. Ergun Caner is a ‘fake’ ex-Muslim. I amazed that some Christian bloggers would even claim that Dr. Caner invented the whole story of becoming a Christian after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in order to sell books. I have known Ergun Caner since the early 1990s and have firsthand knowledge that his claim to be a former Muslim who converted to Christ is consistent with his testimony a decade before 9/11. Now I’m even reading a popular Christian blogger who claims that Ergun Caner is a fake Christian who never converted to Christ at all and was never born again. This has gone far enough. Dr. Ergun Caner is a former Sunni Muslim who experienced the grace of Christ when God saved him. I am thankful to know that he is my brother in Christ.”
Walker and Caner have known each other for a long time. Do you think Ergun Caner has ever heard James Walker talk about Scientology’s lawsuit tactics? It’s not a stretch to think that he has. It might help explain why Ergun Caner’s sermons have almost all but disappeared from the internet since he was exposed as a charlatan. It seems that whenever someone finds a sermon by Ergun Caner posted on a church website or YouTube, it quickly gets taken down. There’s even a term that has been coined for this: Canerization! Hours of recordings of Ergun Caner telling lies have disappeared from the internet. (I think it’s clear that, in many cases, Caner’s friends remove these sermons as a favor to him) One has to wonder if people fear being sued by Ergun Caner for leaving such material accessible online. Is this just unfounded conjecture? Unfortunately, it has a reasonable basis. Ergun Caner is currently engaged in a lawsuit with an Arizona Pastor named Jason Smathers and another man (who is unemployed) named Jonathan Autry.
Jason Smathers obtained video tape of Ergun Caner speaking before and lying to the United States Marine Core. Pastor Smathers obtained these tapes via a Freedom of Information Act request and posted them to YouTube. You can’t find them on YouTube now because due to a copyright claim from Caner, the videos have been removed from the internet while the claim is being litigated. This is almost the exact same tactic that the Church of Scientology uses to bury its own secret (and embarrassing) information. Caner is using this tactic to suppress embarrassing information about himself…and he’s suing a fellow Christian to do it. I’m not going to comment on the prohibitions of suing fellow Christians in scripture, that’s another issue and it’s been blogged about elsewhere. Apologist James White has called it “a clear and unquestionable violation of Scriptural Commands.” Sadly, Jason Smathers and Autry are easy targets for lawsuits. They are by no means wealthy and have struggled financially to defend the suit. Like Caner, Smathers has a checkered past of his own. However, Smathers has overcome that past to find grace in the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, he’s being sued by a man who claims to be a fellow Christian for the crime of trying to keep a liar accountable. Caner’s terms are no less absurd than those of the church of Scientology. According to Autry,
“Dr. Caner then requested that I make my wife and children ages four, five, and seven sign non-disparagement agreements. My wife and children have nothing to do with this case and never posted any videos about Dr. Caner. Dr. Caner apparently seeks to harass my wife for no reason other than her marriage to me and children for no reason other than their relationship with me.”
This is shame. I’d expect it out of the Church of Scientology, but this lawsuit is an action taken by the President of a Georgia Baptist college and self-proclaimed Christian Apologist. If Caner were not a charlatan or were truly repentant of his lies, he’d have nothing to hide. However, like L. Ron Hubbard, Caner has gotten rich off a ridiculous story and now wants to hide the truth from coming out and staying out.
It’s sad. What’s even sadder is the fact that Caner is still supported by many Baptist leaders, namely those in Georgia who installed him as President of Brewton-Parker College.
Suspicious Minds: Negative Effects on the Body of Christ
Before hearing his presentation on Scientology, I listened to another presentation by Dr. James Walker. The presentation included material on psychic claims and contrasted psychic activity inspired by demonic activity with fake psychic activity perpetrated by charlatans. It was interesting. I even asked him a question at the end of his talk. However, I was distracted in my mind during a large part of the presentation. Being aware of his connections to and defense of Caner, I couldn’t help but wonder if Dr. Walker was for real. Like Ergun Caner, Dr. Walker is a Christian Apologist who came to Christianity from another religious background. Dr. Walker is a former Mormon and has done much work in exposing the erroneous doctrines of that religion…but I was doubting his sincerity while I listened to him speak. Even his handout material for the talk cited an article edited by Ergun Caner…the doubt was just eating away at me. I had to tell myself to snap out of it.
After Dr. Walker’s talk was over, some friends and I approached Dr. Walker about his Caner connections. He stood by his statement supporting Caner, but if you look at it closely, it never denies Caner lied. Dr. Walker informed us that Caner was on the board of the Watchmen Fellowship but that Caner had never even attended a board meeting. After taking to him, I believe Dr. Walker is a faithful Christian and true minister of the gospel who helps people come out of false religion to faith in Jesus Christ. Of course, I would have had no reason to doubt that he was if he never made comments in defense of Ergun Caner, a known charlatan and profiteer.
The Caner situation has caused me to doubt the sincerity of numerous notable Southern and Georgia Baptist leaders. It’s a real shame because I’ve always held these men in such high esteem. A local pastor recently gave me some wise counsel on the matter. He told me that just because these men may have erred, it doesn’t negate their biblical teaching. That was comforting to me, but what if I was a seeker looking from the outside in instead of a life-long Christian firmly grounded in the faith? When I see influential leaders defending Caner, it is disheartening. It really just makes me sad. Many of these men are pastors who are highly regarded by their congregations. Yet, they saw fit to install a defiant charlatan like Ergun Caner as President of Brewton-Parker College. It’s an ignominious insinuation, yes, but per the college’s IRS Form 990 listed on Guidestar, In 2012, total compensation for the president of Brewton-Parker college was $153,371. The college received over $2.8 million from GA Baptists. That’s a lot of money to me, how about you?
One friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, put it this way:
“Caner is a terrible hire. It may not matter as everything I see indicates that Brewton-Parker College will lose its accreditation and may be forced to file for bankruptcy, but that doesn’t absolve the Trustees. There is a level of corruption among the Trustees at Brewton-Parker College that should be a source of embarrassment for members of Georgia Baptist churches. The way in which they have dug in their heels or doubled down and attacked the people who offer genuine, concerned criticism is appalling… This is what happens when Christians or Baptists specifically attach themselves to other men and become followers of those men rather than followers of Christ who seek truth and justice. It’s just like politics, it forces you defend terrible positions because ‘That’s our guy. And if he goes down, we go down!’ The good ole boy network is bad enough in politics; it’s terribly disheartening when it comes to the Church… Someone raised the point recently that Caner didn’t hire himself, that the Trustees are to blame and that they have abandoned their responsibility and become corrupted.”
I can’t say it any better. I’ll add this. Jesus Christ is my guy. If he goes down, I go down.
Ignorance: Friend to the Corrupt
“A South politician preaches to the poor white man, ’You got more than the blacks, don’t complain.
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,’ they explain. And the Negro’s name, Is used it is plain, For the politician’s gain,As he rises to fame. And the poor white remains. On the caboose of the train, But it ain’t him to blame. He’s only a pawn in their game” – Bob Dylan
“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32)
The last two Baptists I told about the Caner situation didn’t even know Brewton-Parker College existed and hadn’t ever heard of Ergun Caner apart from me telling them about him. They were completely ignorant of the situation. Yet, their tithes and offerings went to fund Brewton-Parker.
If you are ignorant of Caner’s lies here are twelve of them:
1) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner was born in Istanbul, Turkey, as he claimed.
2) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner always lived in “majority Muslim countries” as he repeatedly told audiences during sermons.
3) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner studied jihad in a madrassa in Istanbul.
4) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner studied jihad in a madrassa in Beirut.
5) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner studied jihad in a madrassa in Cairo.
6) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner is able to speak Arabic.
7) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner has debated imams in mosques in Arabic (as his own website advertised).
8) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner has engaged in more than sixty debates (he claimed in 2006 75 such debates) with Muslim leaders.
9) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner’s father was surrounded by “caliphs” when he died (there are no caliphs today).
10) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner’s father brought multiple wives with him to America.
11) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner came to the United States in 1978 or 1979 (as his biography on the Liberty website claimed until 2010).
12) It is a falsehood that Ergun Caner learned English by watching US television programs in Turkey.
Is your pastor and church still funding this college and the corrupt men who run it while the recordings of Caner slowly disappear? You’ve read this. You’re not ignorant anymore. What are you doing to do with your knowledge?
You can start this Sunday. Don’t give to any church fund that will fund the Georgia Baptist Convention. You can designate your tithes and offerings to missions, benevolence, or any other specific program your church has. You can send money to Watchmen Fellowship and Jason Smathers. You can also use your good name to tell others about this unacceptable situation.
Ask yourself what your tax rate is? What percent of your money do you pay in local, state, and federal taxes? Are you ever frustrated that the government isn’t held accountable and that voters are kept ignorant of important issues by people corrupted with power? If you are a faithful tither, you are giving 10% of your money…God’s money…to your local church.
Remember this; there is no biblical prescription for your church to give the Brewton-Parker or the Georgia Baptist Convention. Hold them accountable by holding your pastor accountable by holding yourself accountable.
As we all know, God is holding us all accountable.