A Repentent Jihadi

  • "I'm trying to say this in a nice way. I spent the first seventeen years of my life assuming that you as Christians hated me. I mean I'd never been in a church, I'd never really been around too many Christians. There's not that many of them in Turkey or in Sweden. And coming to America, I had lived under the misconception that you hated me as a Muslim. That really affected a lot of what I did in my younger years. I'm not really proud of the fact that I'm part. . .was part of the Islamic jihad. I'm not proud of the fact it actually was my people who were involved in what took place, in the horror."
  • (Ergun 'Mehmet' Caner, speaking at the Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, post 9/11, 2001)

  • "Until I was 15 years old, I thought every single one of you hated me. See, I'd been taught my entire life that Christians were hateful, vengeful - that you'd have nothing from me but death - and that we were at war. We came to America through Brooklyn, NY, that's where I learned English."
  • (Ergun 'Mehmet' Caner, speaking at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida, transcribed at Turretinfan.blog)

A Repentant Jihadi
Danger Warning
The Bible on Lying
Damage Assessment
Those Hyper-Calvinists
Turkish TV
Ergun 'Mehmet' Caner

The Pale Turk a.k.a. 'Jihad Butch'

"Have you ever thought that church might be fun and fulfilling, were it not for the people inside the building?" (Why Churches Die, by Mac Brunson and Ergun Caner, Kindle location 170).

A Repentant Jihadi

The strange case of Ergun Caner came to light in 2010. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, this former Muslim, the son of a Turkish father and a Swedish mother, had a valuable testimony to offer. He could have told his Christian audiences about his struggles as a Muslim to do right without grace, about human effort and how far it gets you in the absence of any medicine to heal the sin-sick soul. But his testimony did not dwell on any such mundane concerns, common to the human condition. His testimony was riveting, offering his listeners the excitement of a narrow escape, that staple of B-movie suspense: he had come here to our fair land, a hardened jihadi, to do us harm; but just in the nick of time, Jesus touched him and saved us from disaster! If not for grace, he would have been the twentieth hijacker. Sometimes he told his rapt audiences his story in a 'come-with-me-to-the-casbah' accent, rolling his r's. Lucky for us, Jesus got to him just in time:

"May I submit to you, until I was 15 years old, I was in the Islamic Youth Jihad. And so, until I came to America, until I found Jesus Christ as Lord, I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September, as were thousands and as are to this day, thousands." (Ergun Caner, speaking post 9/11 at First Baptist Church Jacksonville, transcribed at Turretinfan Blog).

This dramatic testimony confirmed his audience's worst suspicions: they're all jihadists, even those secular Turks (he was supposed to have come here as a teen-ager from Turkey), despite their long-standing democracy and NATO membership. No Muslim is safe, none a good neighbor; all are dangerous.  Certainly he was!: "Here in America, jihad is theory. But where I come from, and from Europe and the Middle East, jihad is sadly a fact of life. I was raised in it." (Ergun Caner's testimony at Prestonwood Baptist Church broadcast on the 'Focus on the Family' radio program, 2001.)

Proverbs 12:22

Or maybe not so much, given that he was a very small child when he immigrated to Ohio, not the hardened jihadist he impersonated. He came here, or rather was carried here, from Sweden, not via Beirut and Cairo. At least that is the more mundane tale told by divorce decrees and real estate deeds. This jihadist who repented and turned to Jesus came to this country to do us harm; so he says, but he came here as a toddler. How did he propose to harm us? By throwing his Swedish toys at us?

In his pious condemnations of "my people," this man acted like the judas goat who nonchalantly steps aside as the sheep push their way to the slaughter-house door. In an atmosphere of war, he encouraged suspicion and distrust, not of the guilty, but of an entire population: "my people," as he called them. Evidently "my people" are meant for Muslims, a religious confession, not any of his vague and variable claims of ethnicity. Why? The Muslim web-site which unravelled his story imputes to him motives of hatred:

"Please do not listen to these hate preachers, all they want you to do is hate Muslims for no reason — use the mind that God has given you and look into the faith of Islam for yourself, don't rely on these lying, cheating and deceitful preachers who merely want to brainwash you with lies about us." (Fake Ex Muslims web-site.)

But why would he hate Muslims? Christians are not called to hate Muslims. But there was a time when this was what the market demanded. Ergun wanted to be popular, to be loved, to be successful, and in pursuit of that goal, he told his audience just exactly what they wanted to hear. The Muslims were no more than a means to an end. He is an opportunist, not an ideologue. Every successful con-artist tells his marks what they want to hear. Bernie Madoff told his clients, 'good news, you're making money;' the Ponzi schemer who told his clients, in the interests of verisimilitude, 'bad news, you're losing money,' has not been heard from, because he was unsuccessful. Ergun 'Mehmet' Caner (not the middle name on his birth certificate, but an imaginative tribute to his late father) stepped forward from the shadows of obscurity, having met with limited success as a pastor and academic, to tell people just what they wanted to hear at that moment in time. He became a Stepin Fetchit character who exists to give life to people's stereotypes.

That this is what his audience wanted to hear, is chilling. Like Dr. Faust of legend, he made a bargain; he reinvented himself. He marketed a fictitious persona, though Christian testimony is not intended to be an exercise in creative writing. Gathered churches rely on testimony in admitting members, just as our legal system relies on testimony. If all or most people were as free with facts as is Ergun, a testimony-based legal system would be impossible, as would a gathered church. He was rewarded for his services. By telling these tall tales, he and his brother vaulted from the back row in which they had been toiling in obscurity to the front ranks of Christian celebrity. He was made President of Liberty Theological Seminary and became a fixture on the mega-church lecture circuit. He even taught the U.S. Marines about jihad! The reader will recall that Ann Coulter was at that time advocating genocide and forced conversion; there was a market for what he was selling.

What the market ideally wanted was the testimony of a terrorist who arrived at the airport, bomb in his bag, who then was handed a gospel tract, read it, saw the light, and discarded his bomb in the nearest trash receptacle! The story Ergun was peddling in those days was not quite this dramatic, but really almost as good: he came to this country, he said, to do what was done on 9/11; his conversion saved, not only him, but us as well. Unfortunately, it's fiction, albeit eminently saleable fiction.


Proverbs 6:16-19

Danger Warning

His message, repeated over and over: Islam is dangerous. After all, Islam did 9/11. He travelled the country, selling the invasion of Iraq to perplexed radio audiences, who wondered why America had overthrown Saddam Hussein's secular regime. Ergun 'Mehmet' Caner, the Southern Baptist Convention's resident 'expert' on Islam, found the missing link, so long sought, between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein:

"What is interesting is that bin Laden is a Wahhabi. And the Wahhabi are a subset of the Sunni. They are a subset. And so because of this they had more in common than, say, bin Laden and the old Ayatollah Khomeini. They would not have anything in common because that's Sunni vs. Shi'ite. These are two subsets of Sunni, bin Laden and Hussein. And this is why, when somebody says, 'Oh, there was no connection.' Oh, my goodness! Anyone who understands Islam knows there's an incredible connection between the two, and anyone who has followed history knows that there was an incredible connection between the two. . .They are joined together as two denominations within the same movement." (Ergun Caner, at 20:06, interviewed by Todd Wilken, host, KFUO Issues, Etc.).

Humbler minds could not perceive the point of commonality between the Ba'ath Party's secular socialism and bin Laden's Islamic fundamentalism; this genius cleared it all up by noticing that both are Sunnis. After the bloom was off the rose and the Iraq War declined in popularity, Ergun did not lose heart; he redoubled his efforts, visiting military bases and effusively thanking the troops for liberating "my people." This colorful character had variously portrayed himself as Persian, Arab, and Turkish; for his publicity tours boosting the Iraq War, he became a Kurd, who "knew nothing about America until I came here when I was fourteen years old." (Ergun Caner, address to the U. S. Marines, 9:26, 2005, O-Club). He treasured liberty, having himself lived under "Islamic fascism." (Ergun Caner, address to the U. S. Marines, 7:45, 2005, O-Club). Where? In Sweden, or in Columbus, Ohio? Glowering into the camera, Ergun intoned, "I want you to look very carefully at my face. . .this is the face of a declared enemy. I wasn't just a Muslim. My training in the madrassah was three generations deep with the jihadin [sic]. . .Welcome to my world." (Ergun Caner, Address to the Marines, Base Theater, 7:01). But not to worry; not since Grigory Potemkin's smiling peasants has any group of people been so happy, so ready to break into song and dance, as Ergun Caner's 'Kurds,' so very grateful for having been 'liberated.'

Revelation 21:8

Several of the familiar urban legends surrounding the Iraq War: that our invasion of Iraq resulted in Iraqi girls, for the very first time, learning to read and write, originate in this 'expert's' training session with the Marines: it was his (imaginary) Iraqi half-sisters whose new-found literacy was a gift from the U.S. military. Moreover, Ergun's Muslim father had instructed him to marry a blonde American woman!

"It was incumbent upon me to get married. . .My father said, marry an American woman. This is a great honor in our culture. And specifically he said, see if you can find a blonde American woman, because there are, quite frankly, not very many blonde Muslims. And so this would be considered a rarity, something unique."
(3:58-4:21, 'Political Correctness in the Church,' Dr. Ergun Caner, Chapel at TMC, The Master's College, April 2, 2003).

Is there a more threadbare racist meme than this, 'they're after your daughters'? I don't know whether his father Acar, who had himself married a blonde Swede,— and see how well that worked out,— ever gave his sandy-haired sons such advice, but this is the type of material he found he could 'sell' to his audience. According to his defenders, Ergun should be allowed get away with his disparagement of immigrants on the same grounds that black comics get away with using distasteful terminology, because he belongs to the same groups he defames; so it's okay if he says Turkish women have mustaches. But his actual affiliation with any of these groups is at one hand removed from what he claims; he is not 100% Turkish, but only 50%, and his 'devout' Muslim family background is not true to life.

The whole package: the gibberish for Arabic, the racial stereotypes, the fear-mongering, is ever in service of a political agenda, although Ergun does not seem to be a political person. This scam was 'market-driven.' He is effusive in his praise and gratitude for the Iraq invasion; speaking in the person of a Kurd (though he has represented himself as other things to other audiences), he tells the Marines, "He [Michael Moore] doesn't understand that for us President Bush is our Lincoln." (Ergun Caner, training the U.S. Marines, 1:11:52, O-Club). For "us"? For whom? This personal testimony would be impressive were he not an imposter. Perhaps the real Kurds did not say what was in the script, which is why the Southern Baptist Convention was obliged to put forward a ringer.

When questions about his personal testimony came up, Liberty University at first stone-walled, because Ergun's unveiling is an existential threat to a certain type of political Christianity. It works this way: before the war comes the propaganda campaign to dehumanize the enemy. People will not consent to drop bombs on other people they perceive in their full human dimension. Therefore the people on the ground must be demonized. The invasion of Iraq was difficult to ‘sell’ because Iraq was not a threat nor an aggressor against the U.S. Enter Ergun 'Mehmet' Caner, and his colleagues (Ergun is not the only phony ex-jihadi), travelling around the country advertising the idea that all Muslims, even those from militantly secular Turkey (as it then was), are very likely to end their lives as suicide bombers. Only Jesus can save them from this otherwise inevitable fate.

After 9/11, the U.S. was legally and morally entitled to retaliate against four countries which had provided sanctuary, funding, or political assistance to the attackers: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.

"An October 2002 report by the Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force on Terrorist Financing concluded: 'It is worth stating clearly and unambiguously what official U.S. government spokesmen have not: For years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al-Qaeda, and for years, Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to the problem.'" (War Footing, edited by Frank J. Gaffney, pp. 41-42).

Saudi Arabia, the money source for al Qaeda, was hastily dropped from the target list, the Bush family being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Saudi royal family. Iraq was not on the list at all, being no part of the support network for al Qaeda. Yet that was the war they wanted. It couldn't be sold on rational grounds, so it was sold on irrational. Those in the Southern Baptist Convention who mold public opinion realized this phony jihadi was perfect for the part, which is why they have not abandoned him yet. One might think Ergun, unmasked as a charlatan and a fraud years ago, is on the outside looking in. Nothing could be further from the truth: he is president of a Southern Baptist college and speaks at Southern Baptist megachurches; and after the recent suicide of his son, social media was ablaze with expressions of solidarity from the very highest levels of the Southern Baptist Convention.

If all Muslims are dangerous all the time, and they cannot be ‘defused’ or rendered harmless except by conversion or death, then any war against any Muslim country, including the projected invasion of Iran they want to sell next, can be justified on grounds that ‘we must fight them over there or we will have to fight them over here.’ His first-hand report of his experience as a foreign jihadi leaves no distinction between Afghanistan under the Taliban and democratic Turkey; they're all the same. His unveiling as a fraud is a threat to the permanent-war-against-Islam establishment, because if people understand the outrageous imposture that was necessary to get the public to believe what they wanted them to believe, or as they say, to be ‘educated’ about Islam, then they would be laughed to scorn.

Back when the invasion of Iraq was a topic of public debate, it soon became evident the two sides had, not a difference of opinion, but a radically different catalogue of facts. The left lamented that the public calling for invasion were not 'educated' in the issues; but they were exquisitely educated, having filled notebooks with information provided by the Southern Baptist Convention's resident 'expert' on Islam, Ergun Caner. The information unfortunately was fictitious.

The fact that Ergun Michael Caner, a roly-poly man with a shaved head, took this melodramatic show on the road, rolling his ‘r’s’ and pretending to be a trained jihadi, makes them look ridiculous; but they don't care. They have not abandoned him yet. Where did that foreign accent come from, that popped up at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville post 9/11? He grew up in Columbus, Ohio! Is our school system really so incompetent that the best they could do with a kid they had had for his entire school career was speaking broken English, still, when he accepted Christ as a teen-ager? So he said! "My father disowned me that day, November the 4th, 1982. A year later, though my English was poor, though I could not speak as clearly as others, I surrendered to the ministry — I felt God calling me to preach." (Ergun Caner, Post-9/11 Performance at First Baptist Church Jacksonville, transcribed). After hoping but failing to tough it out, Liberty University ultimately investigated, delivering a demotion coupled with an ambiguous statement failing to explain their action. They have offered the public no apology for imposing upon them in this disreputable fashion.

That so many people were 'educated' by this man, the Southern Baptist Convention's resident 'expert' in Islam, to understand that each and every one of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims is very likely to have a bomb strapped to his body, is a threat to world peace that remains to be defused. His made-up story, changeable, implausible, but believed by thousands, badly needs to be demythologized, and those who stood by him to sell this very profitable franchise need to be recognized for the confidence men they are.

The story unravelled because Ergun Caner neglected Aimee Semple McPherson's edict, 'That's my story and I'm sticking to it.' Although she knew the police did not believe her, when she emerged from the desert telling a lurid tale of kidnap,— her shoes were not scuffed, she did not look like someone who had trudged through the desert for hours,— she realized changing her story was no solution to the problem. When you change your story, that's a red flag, because then you are an admitted liar. Lizzie Borden told police that, on the fateful day her father and step-mother left this earth, she had been up in the loft; but when investigators found an undisturbed layer of dust, she dropped that story and adopted a new one. Susan Smith told investigators she had taken her children to Wal-Mart; advised that she, and they, were invisible to security cameras, she revised her story. At that point, suspicious eyes turn toward the now known liar. In Ergun's case, is it just boredom that makes him keep changing his tale? He never worked at a convenience store, he did work at a convenience store. They used to say about Henry Kissinger, 'Henry doesn't lie because it's in his interest. Henry lies because it's in his nature.' Ergun could not help tweaking his story, leaving the puzzled listener to resolve the "discrepancies" that kept piling up as to "names, dates, and places of residence." The one thing he and his brother should have done before the initiated this scam was to work out a time-line, and then stick to it; this they never bothered to do.

Though his advertised terrorist training was the result of a Turkish upbringing, so he said, he was forced to agree with a radio caller that the best outcome of our invasion of Iraq would be for that country to become a secular democracy, just like Turkey. Follow the logic: the U.S. ought to invade Iraq to make it like Turkey, where a boy can grow up to be a terrorist, just like Ergun did! While it is not possible to make sense of this incoherent jumble, the general tendency is clear. Turkey lately has been tacking in an Islamist direction; but the country he would have grown up in, had he grown up there, was secular to a fault, to the extent of hostility to religion. The Turkey of his imagination and his fables was indistinguishable from Afghanistan under the Taliban; his female relations even wore burqas: "You know, we never thought, 'Oh, I'm being oppressed,' this is all we ever knew, was the wearing of the chador or the wearing of the niqab, or — of course — the most germane one is the burkah. But this was all we ever knew." ("A U.S. News & World Report Story on Women in Islam" (Todd Wilken, Interviewer, 2:25). Never mind that the country he claimed to have grown up in did not practice sharia; twentieth century Turkish law was Western law: "But only a man like Ataturk, consistent secularist that he was, dared simply to adapt the Swiss statute book." (Christianity and the World Religions, edited by Hans Kung, p. 44). His Turkey is as imaginary as his biography.

Back in the real world, as late as 1999, a woman, Merve Kavakci, who was elected to the Turkish Parliament and showed up wearing a head-scarf, touched off a constitutional crisis. The Turkish government discourages Islamic garb such as head-scarves. Women who believe it is their Islamic duty to wear the head-scarf, like Leyla Sahin, could expect static. How is it then that Ergun's mom first removed her hijab in the baptistry upon becoming a Christian, as he claimed?: "In 1991, my momma got saved, in the baptistry took off her hijab." (Ergun Caner, Testimony at Decatur Baptist Church, Alabama, 'Church-house or Jailhouse,' 20050112PM.mp3, 1:05:19-1:05:26).

Some of his criticisms of Islam hit the target, others miss. "Both of them, Mormonism and Islam, have women as sexual slaves for eternity." (Ergun Caner, Southwest Baptist Church, Amarillo, TX, January 23, 2010, 27:46-27:54).

Ergun hit his stride selling the Iraq war to the folks in the pews. But wait,— what about that scary prospect of a young immigrant jihadi, trained in his native Turkey to kill all the infidels? He had wowed the audience with that one, but could it co-exist with his sales pitch for the war in Iraq, that it will make Iraq just like Turkey? How scary is that prospect, when combined with his 'teenage jihadi from Turkey' schtick? The Iraq we invaded was already a secular country, though not a democracy. Perhaps Turkey wasn't really the ticket. . .so then it turned out he had trained at a madrassah in Beirut, Lebanon.  .  .or maybe it was Cairo, Egypt. Since all these conflicting stories cannot be true, his fantasy persona imploded.

As this man made the rounds of the mega-church circuit retailing misconceptions about Islam, he bemoaned the misconceptions about Christianity he had held as a young man:

  • "I hated you. That may be harsh, but as Dr. Hayes told you, my madrassah, my training center, was in Beirut. Before I came to America, we came as missionaries to you. My father was a muezzin, the one who does the prayer in the mosque. Five times a day he would climb to the top of the minaret and begin, 'Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!' He would do the call to prayer. He was also an architect. So we built mosques. And so we came to America. It was '78. Ayatollah Khomeini had said, 'We will not stop until America is an Islamic nation.' And we came. And we continue to come. Anything I knew about Christianity I learned through misconception and caricature. I knew nothing about you, had never been in a church, had never been outside of the mosque. Anything I knew about you I learned either through television, hyperbole, gossip. But I did know this. I hated you and I thought you hated me."
  • (Ergun Caner, California Christian Apologetics Conference, September 22, 2006, 2:38)

One wonders why he never asked his Swedish Lutheran grand-mother, who lived with the family in Ohio, 'Mor-mor, is it true you Christians hate us?' He travelled the country selling the 'War on Terror:': ". . .if America fails, Christianity has lost, greater than the Pax Romana, greater than the Roman roads, greater than the Roman commerce. If America fails, Christianity goes back into the catacombs." (Ergun Caner, interviewed by Richard Land, Faith and Family Broadcast.) The hysteria, the fear-mongering was guaranteed by his life story. . .which was substantially fictitious. This fabulist's one constant endeavor is to normalize Islamic terrorism. Not the peace-loving but the terrorist killers are the true Muslims, "the devout:"

  • "Because the fuzziness is on purpose. I think the unique thing that we may bring to it is that I refuse to let them get away with it. . .And so since the bombing of 9/11 I've been pretty clear: they're not terrorists, they're devout. They're not insurgents, they are jihadin [sic]. And if you don't like the fact that my people, 80% of us, believe that dying for the will of Allah is our only eternal security, well, this is the world we live in. And it has now come to our shores."
  • (Ergun Caner, interviewed by Richard Land, Faith and Family)

  • Interviewer: "If you had five minutes alone with President Bush to talk about Islam, what would you say to him, Dr. Caner?"
  • Ergun Caner: "I would tell him that this is not political. I think that's the biggest mistake we can make, is to assume that this is a political issue. This is theological for Muslims. This is eschatological. This is their desire. This is what we were trained from birth, that this is the holy war. And I think that the President has to be aware that this constant advice that he's receiving that this is just a political thing, it underestimates our enemy. It underestimates those that want to do us serious harm. I think the second thing I would tell him is that they are not terrorists, they are devout. In thirteen hundred years of history — thirteen hundred — I would ask him, 'Can you name one period of time where Islam has coexisted peacefully in any country?' The answer, of course, is 'no.'"
  • (Ergun Caner, Interview on 'Issues, Etc.,' August 13, 2006, "Islam" (Todd Wilken, Interviewer, 2:16)

  • "That brings up the great controversy of the day, which is the genius, if I may use that term for such a horrific little man, but the genius of Osama bin Mohammed bin Laden, is that he's the first man since Saladin to unite all Muslims, all sects of Muslims, against a common enemy. And he did so, of course, uniting them against us, in 1998."
  • (Ergun Caner, Interview on 'Issues, Etc.,' June 24, 2004, "The Crusades," Todd Wilken, Interviewer, 30:33)

Really? Did bin Laden unite "all Muslims" against us? Why does Ergun Caner make Osama bin Laden into the Pope of all Muslims, when he holds no such position in real life? In the Caner brothers' version of Islam, there is no question about the legitimacy of Osama bin Laden's declaration of war against the United States; the caliphate is laying there on the street, waiting for anyone who happens by to pick it up:

"On February 23, 1998, five Islamic caliphates signed a fatwa declaring war against the United States." (Ergun and Emir Caner, Unveiling Islam, Chapter 13, Kindle location 1714).

The Caner Brothers' understanding of who the 'caliphates' are is perplexing, because Ergun describes them (in his usage, the 'caliphates' are persons, not an institution) meeting every eight years to map out coming events, like the Illuminati or Bilderbergers or some such:

"Every eight years there's a meeting of the Caliphate, when the Caliphate meets, the Caliphate, basically religious rulers in the Islamic world, all Sunni. What they do is they target certain states in the United States. They just finished with Hawaii. They built three mosques in Hawaii. They just finished Washington, D.C., the largest mosque that they built was in Washington, D.C. Seattle's next, Seattle, Washington, actually the State of Washington itself, is next. And what they do is they pump money in to that state, and it's the exact opposite way of the way your church builds anything....Every mosque is built with outside money."

(Ergun Caner, Saturday afternoon, 2009 NW Student Convention, 0:34-1:33).

As Ergun recalls it, the "caliphates" clustered around his dying father: "In 1999 my phone rang. And it was my sister who I never met, my half-sister, who said your father is dying. . .My father was surrounded by muezzin and mullahs and caliphates and imams, and they were all just. . .they didn't want us to get to our Dad." (Ergun Caner, Focus on the Family Daily Program, 4/26/2010, Prestonwood Testimony, 20:37-21:26). Evidently Osama bin Laden belongs to this select company: "Well, February of 1998 there was a declared fatwa, the declaration of war. A fatwa is a binding contract by the caliphate, or by the leaders. In this case it was by the sheiks, Sheik Osama bin Muhammed bin Laden, and the ones from Bangladesh and Egypt, and they declared war on America." (Ergun Caner, Interview with Zola Levitt, Signs of the End: 2001, 'Now a Christian,' 2010-06-22_ZL_338_Signs_Of_The_End_2001.mp3, 5:18- 5:35).

But in the 'consensus trance' of conventional history, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk closed up shop on the last Caliph. These men are the resident 'experts' on Islam of the Southern Baptist Convention. They insist all Muslims have united under the flag of Osama bin Laden:

  • "But the second Muslim that is held in great esteem after the Muslims who fought against Martel was one named Saladin. Saladin beat Richard the Lion-Heart in the Third Crusade, just destroyed him, it was an utter rout. The third one: Osama bin Laden. And if you listen and read, they will say, they call him Saladin Dus, Saladin the Second. Why? Because the fatwa signed February 23rd, 1998 was something different. It was signed across the sectarian lines. It was signed by Sunni and Shia. Remember they made a big deal of, 'we are uniting together in jihad'?. . .In one move he had united every Muslim against a common enemy. And so this was a larger or broader scope. . .This is larger, because this is representing, say, a denomination, if you would. This is like the Pope signing a fatwa, which is in fact what he did in the Council of Clermont in November of 1095. You had this, November 27, 1095, the Pope said, all who are Roman Catholic, all who are under the Holy Roman Catholic Church, have to fight. This was like bin Laden, all Muslims, Sunni, Shia, and Wahabi, are united. Which enabled him by the way to unite with Saddam Hussein, who he hated."
  • (Ergun Caner, Addressing the U. S. Marines, April 15, 2005, at the O-Club, 1:02:48).

This 'normalizing' of radical Islam is what the Caner brothers do. There are millions of American citizens who believe that, not a dangerous minority, but most or all Muslims are actual or potential terrorists. They know this because they have been so taught by 'experts' like former jihadi Ergun Caner, along with others who sport equally shaky biographies, like Walid Shoebat. Speaking of "the men who flew planes into the towers and into the Pentagon," the authors say:

"The terrorists were not some fringe group that changed the Qur'an to suit political ends. They understood the Qur'an quite well and followed the teachings of jihad to the letter." (Ergun and Emir Caner, Unveiling Islam, Chapter 13, Kindle location 1752).

Is this assertion legitimate? Is there any polity in the world in which a private individual can declare war? What is the "caliphate"? Did Osama bin Laden really "unite" all Muslims, as he claims?:

  • "'It's a peaceful religion.' In thirteen hundred years of history,— it's myopia, it's absolute cultural myopia. In thirteen hundred years of history we [Muslims] have either fought each other or we have fought a common enemy. That's Islamic history, period.
  • "Three times we have fought together, only three. The hundred years after Mohammed dies, 632 to 732, until we make it to a place called Tours. At the Battle of Tours Charles Martel stops the Muslim onslaught, Charles the Hammer, grand-daddy of Charlemagne. And then in the Crusades, Sunni, Shia, all the sects get together under Saladin. And the third one, February 23, 1998, Osama bin Mohammed bin Laden, Fasul Rahman, Ayman al Zawahiri, they sign a fatwa that unites Sunni and Shia against a common enemy: you, me, the great Shaitan, the great Satan.
  • "This idea that we've. . . it's peaceful and it's been hijacked. How many. . . what's the percentage? At what point? See the issue is that's interesting, is that Muslims here in America are in a really tough spot. They don't like. . .Or they may not even like jihad. But they can't condemn the jihad because then the Muslims will set against them. They can't condone it because we will.
  • ". . .'Oh well, we believe Islam does not teach that you should kill anybody who's innocent.' Word games in our media. Islam teaches, do not kill the innocent. Jihad is holy war. Holy war is not just war. One of the differences between holy war and just war is, in just war you separate civilian and soldier. Not in jihad. There are no innocents. It's a violent faith."
  • (27:33-29:43, Ergun Caner, The Secret of Islam, Mt. Airy Bible Church, Maryland, Veritas Seminary, May 6, 2011)
  • .

  Sayyid Qutb

  Is Killing Non-Combatants Islamic?

  Democracy and Islam

  Brother Muslim


  War of All Against All

  The Devil's Due

  What Do They Want?


  The Moral Landscape

  Geneva Convention

  A Christian Terrorist?

The question whether someone is 'devout' is not a question of sectarian affiliation, either in Christianity or Islam; there are devout High Church Anglicans, and devout fundamentalists. Yet in Ergun's world, the terrorists are the devout, period: "The Muslims that are called the radicals, the fundamentalists, the fanatics, they are in Islamic teaching the most pure. That is, they are simply adherents of what Islam teaches. They in turn view the Muslims who say 'Ah, we should not fight,' they say, well, you are bastardizing the text, you are ignoring Islam. One of the first promises of the Qur'an is, it is prescribed for you to fight. It is something you do not want but you must. It is good for you. And so they will often, those that are called militants, they will quote the Qur'an back to Muslims and say, 'What are you doing? You have changed what the Qur'an teaches. They view these Muslims, the ones who call themselves peaceful, as those who have left the faith." (Ergun Caner, with Todd Wilkin, host, KFUO Issues, Etc., Jul_14c.wma, 17:36-18:33). This normalizing of terror is the product, and it's a best-seller.

Ergun Caner sometimes allows an exception for the pacific Sufis, but otherwise, in this 'expert's' Islam, Osama bin Laden is the true Muslim, and Muslims who say otherwise are lying to you. Certainly those who hold these political views and who wish to drum up support for a permanent war against Islam are free to defend their views however they may. But to defend them in this way,— to invent a phony testimony as a former jihadi, trained at a madrassah in Beirut to do what was done on 9/11,— is contemptible. Ergun Caner is not the only former 'jihadi' brought forth by the war party; many of the others have similar problems with their testimony. Their life as a jihadi tends to revolve around bombs that did not go off and other unverifiable circumstances. If this political project: of a 'long war' against Islam,— is respectable, why can't it be sold honestly?

The Caners' aggressive boosterism, not only for the invasion of Iraq, but for Israeli policy, ought to have been enough to provoke suspicion of Ergun's claimed Middle Eastern upbringing:

"Some take issue with our adamant stand with Israel, now that we are evangelical Christians. Once we came to read the Scriptures for ourselves, we lost our hatred for Israel, and saw them as God's chosen Priest Nation." (Ergun and Emir Caner, Unveiling Islam, Kindle location 2355).

Islam is a religion, not a race, and yet Ergun Caner assiduously repositions it as a race, claiming for example that he is of the same race as the nineteen (Arab) hijackers, even though Turks (he is half-Turkish) are not, in fact, descended from the same stock as Arabs: "September the eleventh, ethnically that was my people, but spiritually, spiritually, I want to tell you this." (Ergun Caner, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, rebroadcast on Focus on the Family, 22:10-22:30). "Ethnically"? His anti-Islam apologetic centers around mocking and ridiculing the physical appearance of Muslims, although Muslims do not, of course, present any uniform physical appearance. He does not really explain how he makes this transformation, except to note that under Muslim law, a child is assigned its father's religion; incidentally this is how they arrive at the discovery that President Obama is a Muslim: "Remember in Islam you are born into a Muslim family. And in Islam you are what your father is. Where in Judaism you are what your mother is. That's right, if your mother's Jewish, you are Jewish. In Islam it's the exact opposite. You are what your father is. Now that also answers the question about our President, so you don't have to ask it. Just ask yourself the question, what was the religion of our President's father. More to the point, in our world we are born Muslim, and the average Muslim family has six children." (Ergun Caner, Southwest Baptist Church, Amarillo, TX January 23, 2010, 39:04-39:36).

  • "I mean look at me. Turkish. Came to America. Learned your language. I'm the guy they pick out of line on every plane. A couple years ago I was standing in line in Chicago and the woman standing behind me looked at me, and you know how political correctness is, she looks at me, and then looks at my passport. Usually my beard is much longer. My wife made me shave it, because
    if she ain't going to kiss me, I'll shave it, I promise. I said, well, OK. I had a long beard. And she said,
    Did they pull you out of line? And I said, Yes ma'am. And she said, 'Ah. Racial profiling.'
  • "Duh.
  • "It's my race that did this. It's not racial profiling, it's common sense. You know why I don't mind getting picked out? As a matter of fact, if they don't pick me out, I point myself out. Why? Cause I like to feel safe on a plane.
  • "My people did this. My people. Nineteen. On the four planes. It would make common sense to pull me out. It's not racial profiling.
  • "Stop being offended for me."
  • (Ergun Caner, (47:11-48:21). Perry Stone: Jentezen Franklin hosts Tommy Tenney, TBN, July 2004, 1:57:01).

This sounds like he is normalizing racism, but of a peculiar sort. There weren't nineteen Turks on those planes. He redefines Islam as a race, not a religion which aspires to universality: you can tell a Muslim by looking at him. And sure, that startle reflex makes sense; who could object? Not "my people," who take it for granted. It's OK. It's only fair.

He continually uses a highly racially charged vocabulary, referring to his own young sons as "half-breeds," evidently pleading for audience sympathy for these poor, unfortunate youngsters, climbing up a mountain of prejudice. But in what sense are they "half-breeds," as he alleges? Under Jim Crow, Turks and for that matter Arabs, were classed as white, in accordance with a decision by U.S. Circuit Court Judge Chas. A. Woods that persons from the "western Asiatic side of the Caspian Sea and the Ganges" were to be so classified. ('Census to Count Arabs as White, Despite Write-In Campaign,' March 25, 2010). Racists of the present day, perhaps, mean no more than 'Northern European' when they say 'white,' but back when racism was encoded in law, this would not have worked; the U.S. Census used to count Mexicans as white, for fear of running afoul of the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the U.S.-Mexican War. The leaders of the Confederacy dreamed of a slave empire stretching across Central America, though William Walker failed them; the slave-owning class in those regions was white enough. If he means to say they are half-Turkish, this is incorrect: he is. The proper racist vocabulary for them is 'quadroon,' but given that Turks are white under the standards of Jim Crow, this would not have been so expressed.

Where exactly is the guilt he tosses out at the audience supposed to land? Although he claims to have encountered bigotry in his youth, alleging that he was called 'towel-head' and worse, in fact he is obliged to shave his head and affect a scraggly goatee in order to look exotic at all. So it seems the product he is offering his audiences is essentially a new and improved racism, with Islam repositioned as the scapegoat 'race,' to blame for all the wrongs of the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems that it sells best below the Mason-Dixon line:

"We have two beautiful half-breed kids, man. [...] . . I am, and proud of this fact, fifteen years I've been married to my Southern Belle. And we are the ultimate mixed marriage, not just that I'm olive-skinned, and she's white, she's not just white, she's translucent white, she is see-through white. We go out into the sun and, you know, I'm spraying Pam on to get a sun-tan, and she's got some sort of SPF-8000 on, some sort of human spackle or something. It's not just the race thing, we have nothing in common."
(Ergun Caner, performing at Southwest Baptist Church, Amarillo, TX, 7:18-8:42)

What "race thing"? Ergun's normal procedure,— whether he was taught this in seminary I don't know,— is to get in somebody's face and provoke a confrontation. In his glory days as a phony jihadi, this was 'I hated you!'— he, the puissant terrorist, supposedly wanted to kill us all, provoking a hostile, defensive reaction in his listeners. In this race-based version above, he tours the deep South, a region with deeply conflicted views and residual guilt feelings over their divisive racial history, and presents himself as an "olive-skinned" man, which he is not, married to a "white" woman: "[Did] I neglect to tell you that my wife is so white she is see-through, and I'm olive-skinned. . ." (First Baptist Sweetwater, 6/12/10, 2010 Conference, The Quest for the Hysterical Jesus, Ergun Caner, 32:27-32:36). Then comes the catharsis: he reassures his worried listeners that he's no threat at all, really, he doesn't hate them anymore, not since he found Jesus; he's happy to join with white folks in the audience in mocking the physical appearance of the people to whom his ancestral connection is more tenuous than they know. In his present performance series touring the U.S., he glowers at the audience with Captain Queeg-level intensity and informs them his son committed suicide, which is intended to provoke a stunned and guilt-ridden reaction; but then comes the catharsis: no, he doesn't blame God for his son's suicide. What a relief! Resolution is achieved, catharsis found, except the underlying circumstances are not quite as represented.


Christian Zionism

Christian Zionism
Deuteronomy 28
The Potter and the Clay
Traditional Values
October Surprise
Gods' Helpers
Mother Ship
Red Heifer
Liberation of Iraq
So Shall We Ever Be
Titus 2:13
Second Chance
A Repentent Jihadi


The principle of the polygraph, or lie detector, is that lying causes distress to most people. Not just getting caught in a lie, which of course causes grief, but lying itself is stressful. The machine does not measure 'truth,' that imponderable, but looks for sweaty palms and other signs of emotional discomfort and unease. The test is not sufficiently accurate to be used as evidence in a court of law, however, in part because some people can ace the test although they are lying. These people, the narcissistic sociopaths, lie untroubled and carefree. From the time Ergun's two children learned to talk, they were expected to lie. This is because his stories are about them almost as much as about him. Or rather they are about two imaginary characters named 'Braxton' and 'Drake,' the two "half-breeds," who ignore him in two languages:

"That's my baby, and we have two beautiful half-breed children. They ignore me in two languages. Stephanie's here. We have some students from Liberty here who knew. I bring Braxton and Drake, and I speak to them in Turkish and Jill speaks to them in redneck." (Ergun Caner speaking at Northwest Baptist Conference 2007, Ergun Caner1.mpg, 10:06-10:22).

As late as 2012 he is marketing these children as "Turkish rednecks" (Ergun Caner, Twin Lakes Baptist Church, Mississippi 2012 Bible Conference, 6:25, available at Sermon Audio). How can they possibly live up to that billing? "You need to understand, my children ignore me in two languages. I speak Turkish and they speak Turkish sometimes but with a Southern accent." (Ergun Caner, 2009 Northwest Baptist Conference, Saturday Morning, 7:10-7:18). Ergun probably never realized how much emotional upset he was causing these two young men when he instructed them to lie, because lying causes him no pain.

How did these young men stand up to this recurring stress? Ergun Caner's eldest son did not make it past the age of 15 before he committed suicide.

When this dreadful news first came to light, such responses were heard as, “Whatever you do, please do not think this can’t happen to you or your children, or never could, because you have a 'good Christian' family. Braxton Caner had been raised in the Church, had been baptized and received Jesus Christ as his savior, his father is a well known theologian.” (Let's Talk About Teen Suicide, LJSkool.com). A "good Christian" family? Dad's a professional con artist! It must be excruciating to be the child of a con artist; just imagine if 'Anastasia' was your mom. The kids would taunt, 'Can I borrow the crown jewels? Ha-ha-ha!' It's difficult to know which would be harder to take, the idiots who think she actually is Anastasia, or the sensible people who know she is not and resent her efforts to get at the Romanov fortune. Surrounded as Ergun has been by the cocoon of a Southern Baptist good old boys' network, did his peers even know that his Dad's false persona was not his real life story? Did Braxton himself know? Whether it is possible, or not, to construct a world in which the con artist's child is insulated from damaging fallout depends on how vigorously the con artist markets the child as part of his schtick.

It is grueling to imagine this young man's life experience: just as soon as he could talk, he was expected to lie. Questions simple for the rest of us: Do you speak Turkish? Do you speak Arabic?— were pitfalls fraught with danger. To most of us it's just like asking, 'Do you speak Serbo-Croatian,' or 'Do you speak Chinese,' no alarm, the answer is a casual 'no' or 'yes.' But Ergun's tall tales involve these young men's bilingualism, or even trilingualism. Yet where could they have learned to speak Turkish and Arabic? Their Dad does not know these languages and so cannot have taught them, although he wants it believed otherwise: "The problem is, English is neither my first nor my second language." (Nathan Lean, The Islamophobia Industry, Kindle location 1874). (Swedish was spoken in his childhood home; he has claimed to conduct debates in mosques in Arabic, and of course pretended for a long while to have grown up in Istanbul, though when the interviewer for a Turkish periodical showed up, he helpfully explained he was Swedish.) This makes problematical any questions they hear from their Dad's adoring fans about those early morning conversations, that Ergun is always talking about, they had with their Dad in Turkish. If they tell the truth they are under-cutting him, the great Man of God. If they lie, what if they have a conscience? Neither is pretending to speak unknown languages a safe option; what if the questioner responds with a rapid-fire burst of Turkish or Arabic? So Braxton was evidently coached, by his loving parents, to evade the question. These might seem like small points, but to these youngsters they are their claim to fame, the reasons why these large audiences smile and look on them with interest. It is hard to avoid concluding this young man was a human sacrifice devoured by the great Molech of the Southern Baptist Convention, which can't get enough of Ergun's story-telling; just before the event he spoke at Johnny Hunt's megachurch, First Baptist Woodstock. Spitting out the bones, they weep, and wonder why God allows such things.

No suicide note has been released, so why the young man killed himself remains a topic for speculation. The police have not, as of this writing, released any definitive report. How the 'unknown unknowns,' as Donald Rumsfeld would call them, play into this situation is. . .unknown. So we are left to try to put the puzzle together with no assurance we have all the pieces. But Philo cites a proverb, ". . .for, as the old proverb says, what is apparent affords the best means of judging of what is not visible." (Philo Judaeus, On the Life of Moses, Book I, Chapter LI). Braxton's household was non-traditional, the parties residing in different states, although "Approximately three out of four teenage suicides 'occur in households where a parent has been absent.'" (John MacArthur, Divine Design, p. 63). But more significantly, any young man with a conscience must have protested the morally ambiguous position in which his family placed him. Ergun's two sons are among the select group of people who did not learn about Ergun's lies by laboriously splicing together recordings; they knew from personal experience that they are not the 'Braxton' and 'Drake' he is always talking about. It might seem surprising that it is the Caner brothers themselves, and their supporters, who have been milking this event for maximal advantage; but Ergun has a long-standing predilection for finding opportunity in tragedy: his phony jihadi scam started with the tragedy of 9/11. Will his son's suicide be his main selling point going forward, the phony jihadi scam having grown a bit old, as even the most gullible no longer believe he was really trained as a terrorist? Not all their points are completely without merit, this young man undoubtedly did have his share of miseries associated with the Caner name.

Ayn Rand, the atheist ethicist, objected vociferously to assigning blame in the wake of a suicide, and some follow her lead today. However, there is one substantial group of Americans who continue to believe that somebody is to blame in the event of suicide, and that is the people who commit suicide themselves, who are often by their action seeking to point a bony finger from the grave in a gesture of 'J'accuse.' "Most adolescent suicide attempts are precipitated by interpersonal conflicts. The intent of the behavior appears to be to effect change in the behaviors or attitudes of others." (Youth Suicide Fact Sheet, American Association of Suicidology). Who is to blame here, if anyone? It is difficult to avoid the awareness that parental criminality may be a risk factor in child suicide, as discovered for instance by a longitudinal study conducted in New Zealand following 1265 children from birth to age 21 (Article). However that is not where the Baptist press went after this event; they went 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Following social media's lead, they deduced this young man was murdered. . .by his father's critics. One critic had even interacted briefly with Braxton on Twitter. It's not commonly suspected that a five minute encounter with a total stranger can impel someone to blow his brains out who was not previously disposed to commit suicide; when is this ever recorded to have happened? Yet the internet was abuzz with this theory. What can he have said? Tweets are limited to 140 characters. While it's easy to dismiss such a far-fetched idea, it's been picked up and trumpeted by periodicals like Christianity Today, and was even subsequently endorsed by the Southern Baptists of Georgia meeting in convention. Is there any merit to the theory? Is it really possible for a brief conversation between two strangers to drive one of them, not otherwise disposed, to commit suicide? By what 140 characters? Was it because this lethal question was asked of him: 'Do you speak Arabic?'

The evidence they adduce consists of several 'tweets.' This doomed young man's brief conversation with a critic on Twitter started with young Braxton berating the minister, whom he took for a fool. This part of the exchange cannot have caused him much emotional turmoil: on Braxton's score-card, the opening gambit goes down as a clear 'win' for himself. As far as modesty in clothing goes, you either 'get' it or you don't, and Braxton obviously didn't; he has no background, his Dad schedules church summer youth camps around a 'Game of Thrones' theme.

However, the momentum almost immediately changes, whereupon Braxton begins looking for the exit. The exchange which does seem to bite and draw blood occurs when the minister asked him the question not to be asked. For most of us, there is no lethal question which, if asked, will induce us to do away with ourselves. Inasmuch as I never saw the movie 'I Know What You Did Last Summer,' I don't know what they did; but if someone whispered that phrase in my ear, I'd reply, 'Remind me' (we old people are forgetful), not run into traffic. For this unfortunate young man, however, there is a question with no good answer: 'Do you speak Arabic?' It's humiliating to lie and not be believed. The East German secret police used to bring people in for questioning just to put them in that unenviable position, just so that they would leave the interrogation room feeling dirtied and diminished, lesser than when they went in. To lie and no one is fooled: what a belittling let-down! But for that matter, to have a father who is a professional con artist is deeply humiliating; it was no new ache. He had been coached, evidently, to accuse any who ask the question of being "obsessed" with his Dad, an odd thing for a young person to say to someone he does not know, in hopes the questioner will fall silent, because the question cannot be answered. If he tells the truth, he is undermining the Man of God who receives personal condolences from Ronnie Floyd; if he lies, is his gibberish Arabic as practiced as his Dad's? But who set up the lethal question? Ergun Caner. Why place such a burden on a young person's back? It's abusive, it's unfair.

Through no fault of his own, without his consent, Braxton inherited a family heritage of lying. As a family business, the phony jihadi biz may itself be a suicide risk. In some states, if a family is teaching their children to shop-lift, they yank the children out of the home; it's a bad environment, not healthy or wholesome for children. Hypothetically, say Dad's a grubby little con-man, who takes the kids with him on his scamming tours, expecting them to play their parts which he has scripted for them; they are his bait, his front men. Does it change things if the scammer is a Southern Baptist minister, and that he does business in Southern Baptist megachurches? How is that any different? It's a shame nobody called Department of Human Services on this family before the event; afterwards isn't much help. While the 'lethal question' theory is not as crazy as it first sounds, it is ultimately not possible to credit it, in spite of its instantaneous popularity, because it is just not possible this young man had never heard the lethal question before. Every time he went with his father on a preaching tour, he heard it over and over again from well-meaning people who just loved him to death: 'Oh! Let's hear your Arabic!'

So if the lethal question theory is true,— and it has taken the internet by storm,— the trouble started long ago. No doubt any honest young man would be troubled by a question that requires him to lie; to be coaxed and cozened into lying by smiling, 'loving' friends may be slightly less painful than a challenge by a skeptic, but damaging nonetheless. So if the theory is true, that asking one question can cause a person not otherwise disposed to suicide to do away with himself, then the perpetrators are not as suspected, but rather thousands of glittering eyed child murderers seated in the Southern Baptist pews. Braxton was wounded every time this question was asked, and died the death of a thousand cuts. It is not possible to apportion all blame to one questioner, as if the others are innocent. Why was this allowed to go on so long? Why is it still going on?

In any case it is morally flawed to blame the critics, rather than the underlying wrongdoing on Ergun Caner's part which the critics publicized, because the Bible does not say you should cover up wrongdoing of which you happen to be aware, rather, "And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity." (Leviticus 5:1). Those who know there is something wrong must come forward. Christians are not joint members of a criminal conspiracy like the Mafia whose sworn duty is to cover up for one another. Nor would the world be a better place, nor even a place with fewer suicides, if people thought it their duty to cover up criminality by members of their group. In medieval times, it was a legal requirement for witnesses of a crime to 'raise the hue and cry' and pursue the perpetrator, as best they could, so that every petty thief was being chased by a hollering mob; it is strange that some people now think there is a duty to cover up wrongdoing of which they are aware. Jesus never said, 'If a man take your cloak, lie to the Sheriff on his behalf.' Decriminalizing fraud might ease the pressure on the children of the scammers, but only at the expense of the victims, now forbidden not only to find justice but even to receive public sympathy or verbally complain that they were taken, on grounds that this is harmful to the scammer's children. Such a trade-off would exchange suicides in one group for another, victims for family members, not reduce the number of suicides.

Ergun's peers in the Southern Baptist ministry are perplexed by all the fuss; all pastors embellish their stories, they explain, so what is the problem with all the exotic locales and rolled 'r's'? If there really is a social consensus in some part of the country that a class of ne'er-do-wells are not expected to tell the truth, one wonders how any sucker class can be nurtured to believe them anyway. Evidently there really is none; these people just don't have much respect for Christian ministers. But do liars lie with no hope or expectation of being believed? Any organized effort by one class of people,— the Southern Baptist clergy,— requires another class, the pew-warmers, to be chumps if all that lying is to have any effect whatsoever. If the theory of the lethal question is correct, then Southern Baptist preacher's kids really do need to come with a warning label affixed to their backs: 'Warning! Do not ask him if he really scored 800's on his SATs and rowed solo across the Atlantic; he will do away with himself if you do.' Evidently those accustomed to this church world expect a certain amount of 'embellishment.' But there is always somebody from out of town who doesn't know any better than to believe what he hears from the pulpit and pipes up, 'What was it like when the radio broke and the giant wave hit?' Audiences just loved Ergun's stories about his kids. Unfortunately his bilingual, or trilingual, 'Braxton' and 'Drake' were as fictional as 'Ergun Mehmet Caner' himself. The real ones, they were not so fond of. These youngsters did not grow up in a safe or wholesome environment. Will it take the Texas Department of Human Services or comparable agency to come up with a plan to save the surviving child? Upon this child's merchandizing to the public Ergun is now doubling down, being reduced to the only one in inventory; he has even procured matching suits. It does not augur well that he primps and poses the surviving boy, to the delight of his internet audience, to look just like James Dean, a movie star famous for his brief life. If some responsible agency could see the way to barring him from accompanying his father on preaching tours, there might be hope.

For much of their history, the Southern Baptists have roamed over on the dark side, a force acting against communal harmony and comity. Politically, they were not an influence for good but for evil. Yes, they preached the gospel, but they also did all in their power to prevent social peace from breaking out in the region in which they had established themselves. They began as a pro-slavery independant start-up, inasmuch as the existing Baptist fellowships were abolitionist. Then for years, except for a few brave and lonely voices, they stood immobile as a force in favor of racial discrimination. For a few decades, it seemed like they had come out into the light, and renounced their unsavory heritage.

Is that brief halcyon period over? Are they are back over on the dark side, solid? Perhaps they realized their constituency needs red meat after all and will pine away if it is withdrawn. After 9/11 they invested big in Islamophobia, and that's their new thing; the phony jihadis like Ergun Caner come along with that enterprise. And after they're demonstrated to be phonies, their usefulness is by no means at an end, because some people don't mind being lied to. The Southern Baptists are a conundrum, a paradox. On the one hand, they preach the gospel. . .and always have. On the other hand, they breathe life into atheist Christopher Hitchens' accusation that 'religion poisons everything,' because they have poisoned southern social and civic life; just ask the African-American residents of that region. By their zeal and conviction for the gospel, the Southern Baptists put my own church, the American Baptists, in the shade, as these latter limp along into the long dusk of main-line liberalism. Yet it seems they cannot deal forthrightly with a fake like Ergun Caner. Why is it so hard?

When Mark Madoff hung himself, he left no note. Certainly there are all kinds of reasons why people kill themselves; was it a doomed love affair, did he suddenly start hearing voices, a secret heroin addiction, a mid-life crisis, or an unshared cancer diagnosis? Instead of speculating, reputable journalistic enterprises started wearing out their reporters' shoe leather to nail down the answers. And indeed it was confirmed by his friends and confidantes that he was troubled by feelings of shame and anger over his dad's failed Ponzi scheme, as well as concerns over his own inability to get a job (evidently prior employment at the brokerage desk of a Ponzi scheme investment house does not favorably impress prospective employers). Mark, one of those who turned Bernard in to authorities, cannot be accused of having wished the scam to go undetected any longer, and indeed it is not in the nature of things for a Ponzi scheme to last indefinitely, they always collapse; that is why they're illegal. If Bernie had been honest, things would have been different. While not facing prosecution at the time of his death, Mark evidently could not force enough psychic space between himself and his father, a man who knowingly and willingly took a left turn in life, to survive. What happened in that case is what is not happening here; no one is wearing out shoe leather to rule in, or rule out, plausible grounds for Braxton's suicide. The secular news media is not interested and the Christian rags are too busy putting out hagiography of the father; investigative reporting is not what they do. Unfortunately in consequence a question mark will remain over this young man's tragic death. Does Ergun now have blood on his hands, or is his eldest son's suicide unrelated to his story-telling about him? This horrifying news was both shocking and also unsurprising: if you make a Faustian bargain with the devil, trading your integrity for fortune and fame, what is to prevent him from coming knocking for payment, and what likelier payment than the first-born? However an unresolved question mark remains, and likely will into the future.


The Bible on Lying

Ergun continues to find defenders in the Christian community to this day, most conspicuously noted apologist Norman Geisler. John Ankerberg, who has called Ergun Caner "one of the world's foremost scholars on Islam," (quoted in 'The Islamophobia Industry,' Nathan Lean, Kindle location 1825), remains a staunch supporter. Todd Starnes of Fox News Network is a fervent defender, perhaps understandably: one thing you'll never see on TV is an expose of Ergun Caner on Fox News, because they'd be exposing themselves; they used to use him an 'expert.' Ergun was found fit to serve as President of a Southern Baptist Convention college, Brewton-Parker, in Georgia. Though he is a known, unrepentant, habitual liar, he is not under any cloud whatsoever, in the eyes of his numerous supporters. It is not possible to fathom how any Christian can defend this man, whose habit of lying is so well documented, when the Bible says what it says about lying:

"These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." (Proverbs 6:16-19.)

"He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known." (Proverbs 10:9.)

"The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them." (Proverbs 11:3)

"He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit...The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy. There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief. Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight." (Proverbs 12:17-22.)

"A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame." (Proverbs 13:5).

"A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape...A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish." (Proverbs 19:5-9).

"The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death." (Proverbs 21:6).

"A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly." (Proverbs 21:28).

"A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow." (Proverbs 25:18).

"A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin." (Proverbs 26:28).

"You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man...For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.
Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee." (Psalm 5:6-10).

"They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?" (Psalm 12:2-4).

"LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart." (Psalm 15:1-2).

"Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." (Psalm 32:2).

"He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence." (Psalm 101:7)

"Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" (John 1:47).

"The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords. Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee." (Psalm 55:21-23).

"Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper." (Psalm 120:2-4).

"And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD. Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders. And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people? Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait. Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?" (Jeremiah 9:3-9).

"But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.  For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity." (Isaiah 59:2-4).

"These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD." (Zechariah 8:16-17).

"And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God." (Revelation 14:5).

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8).

"But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie." (Revelation 22:15).

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." (Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20).

"He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness..." (Matthew 19:18).

"Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness." (Exodus 23:1).

"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44).

"But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust." (1 Timothy 1:8).

"Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another." (Ephesians 4:25).

"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." (Romans 1:28-32).

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18).

"‘Do not defraud,’. . ." (Mark 10:19)

"Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." (1 Peter 2:1-3).

"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:..." (1 Peter 2:21-22).

"For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it." (1 Peter 3:10-11).

The Bible teaches that God does not tolerate liars. As riposte we hear about the axe-wielding madman; but I have never seen him, have you, reader? Perhaps he is an urban legend. When it comes to people they dislike, Southern Baptists are perfectly capable of perceiving that lying is ungodly and wrong:

"Liars and leaders are not the same. If a man is a liar, he has a character flaw that goes all the way to the core of his being. People are not liars because they tell likes. They tell lies because they are liars.
"A man is never more like the devil than when he lies, for Jesus said in John 8:44 that Satan is a liar and the father of lies. A man is never more like the Lord Jesus than when he tells the truth, because Jesus Himself is the Truth (John 14:6)." (Adrian Rogers, 'A Leader Must be Absolutely Honest,' p. 13, Does Character Count?).

They put out a lot of this material when the 'liar' of whom everyone would think was President Bill Clinton, who found it awkward to tell the truth about Miss Lewinsky. They did not like him even though he was a nominal Christian, and his nominal Christianity was no barrier to their feeling free to say so.

Some of Ergun's defenders seem to think it is not so bad that he lied, because he was lying against Islam. But Christians cannot do evil so that good may come: "And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just." (Romans 3:8). We are all prone to rationalize our selfish actions, but the plain facts testify that he lied for personal gain, and some of his defenders, sadly, apparently act out of similar motives.


Damage Assessment

It is hard to deny that the unmasking of Ergun Caner as a fraud has damaged the Christian witness to Muslims. He has also impacted social and political relations between these two communities. While any support for bin Laden and his ilk in the Islamic world is alarming, the level of such support tends to be over-stated by alarmists like Ergun Caner. It is difficult to come up with an exact percentage for the supporters, in the Islamic world, of Osama bin Laden. Any percentage of 1.5 billion people, even if it were only 3%, would justify massive expenditure to neutralize the threat they represent; but what is the percentage? Can it be 100% of the 'devout,' as claimed by Ergun Caner? Asking people in the Mid-East whether they support bin Laden does not really address the questions, because many Muslims insist, contrary to reason and evidence, that the World Trade Center was brought down by the CIA or by Mossad. Though these 'conspiracy theories' have little merit, they have attracted a following even in our own country. A poll subject, who avers that he admires Osama bin Laden, but who also insists the object of his admiration had nothing whatever to do with the assault on the World Trade Center, is not expressing 'support' for the World Trade Center attack. Unfortunately there do not appear to be any opinion polls which correct for this distortion. However, actual support for terrorism amongst Muslims certainly falls short of the '100% of the devout' mark the phony jihadis are pushing; that is a fantasy, indeed a slur.

A few slashes of Ockham's razor leave little left of the conspiracy theories, which abound with unnecessary entities: if a rocket hit the Pentagon, then what happened to the passengers aboard the jet that did [not] hit it? These people left home that morning and never came back. There is a certain parsimony in the 'official version,' which economically deploys one single occurrence to explain why these people never came home and also why there was a hole in the Pentagon:

9/11 Conspiracy Theories

Free Fall
The Government Did It
Dig a Pit
Building 7
Fire Safety
Topple Like a Tree
China Vase
Betty Ong
Lizzie Borden
Public Anger
The Illuminati
Private Network
Stranger than Fiction
Western Union
The Flash
Stalinist Wedding-Cake Architecture
A Perfect World
Mother of All Conspiracy Theories

What was it all for? What do you think?:

"Today, our deeply held belief in freedom is once again being tested, our resolve questioned." (Ergun and Emir Caner, Islam Unveiled, Chapter 18, Kindle location 2395).

How can anyone question the righteousness of the invasion of Iraq, when Ergun, who grew up on the border between Iraq and Turkey, says it's the right thing to do? Not that there isn't some awkwardness about the logic: "These liberties are completely foreign to the traditions of Islam and are regularly condemned by Muslims world wide." (Ergun and Emir Caner, Islam Unveiled, Chapter 18, Kindle location 2403): 'Dey hate freedom,' therefore let's give it to them out of the barrel of a gun. Not that that makes sense, but that's the product, and they're committed to selling it: "I think that what Michael Moore and others like him have done is to spit on the graves of my dead countrymen, who longed for the freedom that America has brought them." (Ergun Caner, Hatriotism: The Anti-American Agenda, CBN News 7-13-04).

An entire generation learned what 'church' was, sitting through sermon after sermon extolling how wonderful was President George W. Bush, and how richly God had blessed us by giving him to us. As soon as they were able, they rushed out the door; will they return? For the future, the next time they want to start an unnecessary war, hopefully people will reflect on what happened last time. A Potemkin village was gathered, with happy village folk dancing in their bright peasant costumes, brimming over with enthusiasm at the prospect of their country being overrun by the troops of a foreign power, us. 'Bring it on!' they cried, in their lilting foreign tones. Except they weren't really what they were presented as; their flowered peasant costumes came from Costumes-Are-Us, and their chieftain, Ergun 'Mehmet' Caner, was a charlatan and a fraud. Never again.

I first encountered Ergun Caner when his claims about his personal journey were already becoming controversial. I was immediately enthralled, realizing that here was the answer to a mystery which had long perplexed me. After the U.S. invaded Iraq, emails begun making the rounds which trumpeted the 'fact' that, after we had liberated Iraq, little girls in that country were now, for the first time, attending school. This puzzled me when I first encountered the claim. Certainly secular socialist regimes like the Baathist government in pre-invasion Iraq have many wrongs to answer for; economic stagnation and inefficiency is inextricably linked with socialism, and these kinds of states often rack up records of human rights abuses. But failing to educate little girls? To the contrary, socialist states like Cuba, after the revolution, make a big push in favor of literacy, the better to indoctrinate the little ones to sing the glories of Mother State. So I wondered, could this possibly be true? Looking into the matter, I discovered it was not. But when you try to tell these people they are in error, they will hear none of it; they know better. How do they know? Because they have studied; they have filled spiral notebooks with closely copied information. It's easy to say they are 'ignorant,' but this is a scrupulously researched brand of ignorance, not the careless or slothful sort. Where did they hear these things? At church.

Some misinformation that had formed as a cloud about this war was under investigation almost from the start, such as Laurie Mylroie's implausible, but credited at high levels, conspiracy theories, or Judith Miller's New York Times reporting about weapons of mass destruction. But this mass of material the mass media seemed to know nothing about. How did so many people 'know' that little girls in Iraq first went to school post-invasion? Because Ergun testified that this was true of his female relatives residing in Iraq. Personal testimony; refute it if you can! It all started with bogus claims about somebody's imaginary relatives.

Those Hyper-Calvinists

It's difficult for outsiders to fathom how Ergun maintains his standing in the Southern Baptist Convention, an organization nominally dedicated to the Bible, which is, as noted, distinctly negative on lying. Yet he is currently President of a Southern Baptist college in Georgia. (Update: As of 1/20/15, Ergun has resigned this post.) His brother Emir, who is at best an enabler and at worst an accessory to Ergun's prevaricating, is also a Southern Baptist college president. Some might suppose that he has repented; but he has done no such thing. Not one of his outlandish claims has he retracted or recanted, though some he rarely makes nowadays. The more his long career of fabrication is publicized, the more beloved he becomes; as another charlatan said of his critics, "The harder they hit me, the higher I bounce." (Charlatan, Pope Brock p. 68). Evidently prior employment as a con artist is no bar to a leadership role in the Southern Baptist Convention, a breakaway movement which began in the first instance as a haven for slave-owners. As far as Brewton-Parker College is concerned, all the criticism is just so much "character assassination" (Baptist Press, Art Toalston, 'Pastor Laments Tweets,' August 12, 2014). How has Ergun managed to stay afloat amidst the revelations about his past, both mythical and real?

By changing the subject, in part. The Southern Baptist Convention is currently riven by dissension between Calvinists and Arminians. Even though James White, his principal Calvinist detractor, was obliged to show him how to spell 'Arminian,' Ergun now presents himself as an Arminian unfairly picked on by Calvinists. Since this group is so unpopular in some quarters, Ergun finds shelter to keep doing his thing. Won't the Southern Baptists be surprised if, in their researches on 'Arminianism,' they ever discover it has something to do with 'holiness'. . .which is not compatible with lying your head off!:


Another way in which the Caner brothers have been able to remain standing amidst the flood of well-founded accusations against them, has been by conflating and confusing accusations made by various parties, because some of their accusers have indulged in over-reach. Ergun Caner's Muslim detractors focus on his bloopers, like counting 40 days of fasting at Ramadan (Ramadan is a lunar month which cannot be 40 days). This is not so surprising; children are not obligated to fast, his Muslim Turkish father was absent from his broken home, and his Swedish hippy mother was perhaps not into fasting. Although some of his detractors want to deny he was ever a Muslim, such a conclusion cannot be defended simply on the basis of incomplete information; the threshold for entry into Islam is not set high, reciting a formula of words is all it takes. He and his brothers undoubtedly went to the mosque with their Turkish immigrant Dad and recited the Shahadah. But they did not do this in Istanbul or Beirut, or Cairo or wherever. The exotic locales, and the devotion to jihad, are a fantasy.

Not that he doesn't make errors. There is extreme confusion in Ergun's performances about the various people groups of the middle east and about basic facts of geography; though Turkey is a green country, he says, "'You didn't cotton farm.' I said, there's no cotton in sand, Dad." (Ergun Caner, Testimony at Decatur Baptist Church, Alabama, 'Church-house or Jailhouse,' 20050112PM.mp3, 17:08-17:18). What sand? It would be difficult to catalog all the differing backgrounds and places of residence he ascribes to himself; generally he claims to have grown up in Istanbul, in the west of Turkey, but instructing the Marines and here, it's just the opposite: "I am an Eastern Turk, toward the Kurdish regions." (Ergun Caner, Testimony at Decatur Baptist Church, Alabama, 'Church-house or Jailhouse,' 20050112PM.mp3, 21:28-21:31). Sometimes, indeed, he's not a Turk but a Kurd. Or maybe, "See I can say this, I can get away with this all I want, I'm Persian." (Ergun Caner, Seattle Apologetics Conference, Apologetics of the Bible, Islam, Islam101.mpg, 13:30). Whatever. Ohio isn't on the list, though that is where he actually did grow up.

Beyond the inventive personal testimony, watch the 'Expert on Islam' in action:

"The rest of them are divided among Shi'ite, Sufi on the West Coast, and Nation of Islam, which I never saw Nation of Islam till I came to America. [Interviewer] "And on that point it's mentioned in your book, how would, if we can use the term, mainstream Islam, view the Nation of Islam?" Well, we saw them with a bit of a scant view. Like I said, I was never exposed to this. This was an American Muslim movement, and it began as the Five-percenters of course, a movement to get national recognition of a black country here in America. It was not accepted from 1923 when it began to form until the 1960's, it was not accepted by mainstream Islam until Malcolm made the pilgrimage. When Malcolm made hajj, the Sunni subsumed a group of the Nation underneath them. There's still a political wing, there's still a political movement called the Nation of Islam. But by and large they are still seen as an aberration. The other nation was accepted into the Sunni movements and since then they have not been known as the Nation." (Rev. Todd Wilken, Host KFUO Issues, Etc., Apr_16c.wma, 34:05-35:08).

There's some semblance to truth at the end, because when Elijah Muhammad's son picked up the torch from his deceased father, he steered the movement toward mainstream Islam, driving the loyalists to the original teachings into opposition. And no doubt Ergun, who came to this country as a toddler, had never heard of them playing in his crib in Sweden. But what did Malcolm X, with a small following, beyond the curious, assassins and those on the police payroll as informants, on hand to witness his ballroom assassination, have to do with any of that? This is a case of making it up as you go along. Though Malcolm Shabazz had been a very effective 'soul-winner,' or more accurately soul-destroyer, for the Nation of Islam, while still within the good graces of founding prophet Elijah Muhammad, there was no exodus following on his heels after he was squeezed out from that organization. In fact, he had difficulty attracting a broad following, in spite of receiving inestimable amounts of free publicity from an adulatory mass media, who loved his talk about 'The Revolution,' not to mention financial backing from Arab states once he did, subsequent to his expulsion, make a turn toward Muslim orthodoxy. His following at the time of his death numbered in the hundreds: "An FBI informant reported that at the March 26, 1964, MMI [Muslim Mosque Inc., his rival start-up to the Nation of Islam] gathering, about seventy-five people attended the 'open meeting,' which was followed by a closed session restricted to about forty-five 'registered Muslims.'" (Manning Marable, Malcolm X, p. 321). Nor was his secular arm, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, much better attended: "That Sunday about ninety individuals filled out forms to join the OAAU, far fewer than anticipated." (Manning Marable, Malcolm X, p. 357). Neither organization long survived Malcolm's demise. In spite of all the hagiography surrounding Malcolm, he was a failure as a cult leader. He was, however, a famous person, whom even Ergun has heard of.

What exactly are the real problems touching Muslim orthodoxy? From the standpoint of mainstream Islam, the status of Wallace D. Fard is, um, an issue:

"'If a man knew every imaginable thing that there is to know, who would he be?' Reginald asked.
"'Some kind of a god,' replied Malcolm.
"Reginald explained that such a man did exist — 'his real name is Allah' — and had made himself known years before to an African American named Elijah — 'a black man, just like us.' Allah had identified all whites, without exception, as devils." (Manning Marable, Malcolm X, p. 77).

This presents a wee bit of a problem; if Wallace D. Fard makes a suitable Allah, then what is their beef against the Druse, or the Ahmadis, not to mention Christianity? Again: "The Black Muslim movement, the Nation of Islam, was not accepted by the rest of the Islamic community until the late 1960's. And this was because of the split that took place in the Nation of Islam between two men, Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. When Malcolm X made the pilgrimage to Mecca, what he promised to the orthodox Muslims, the Caliphate that was there in Mecca, was that he would bring under one of the sects of Islam the Nation of Islam, which is precisely what he did. When he came back to America, he renounced the geopolitical view of the Nation of Islam, the five-percenters, those that wanted five percent of America's land to become a black nation. He renounced that and became what he believed and what the other Muslims believed, a pure Muslim, that is he just espoused Islamic doctrine and renounced all of this political stuff. They call themselves Sunni Muslims." (Ergun Caner with Richard Land, For Faith & Family, 20090324.mp3, 5:30-6:29). So they were accepted in the late 1960's? Not the faithful adherents to Elijah Muhammad's teachings! Growing up as a child in New Jersey, finding myself in Port Authority bus terminal in NYC, I used to purchase a copy of 'Muhammad Speaks,' the Nation of Islam's periodical; I can scarcely recall a time when I did not know about the deportation of the moon, the god-scientists, blue-eyed devils, the Mother Ship. . .and Fard Muhammad, a.k.a. Wallace D. Fard, Allah walking down the street according to Elijah Muhammad. This is just a bit controversial by the lights of most Muslims. Ergun knows nothing about any of it; to him, the Nation of Islam was just too political for the Saudis! Whether Malcolm grew any blacker as his views evolved, I can't say, although he did drop the NOI's peculiar insistence that African-Americans were Asians, however he definitely did grow pinker, so why were the Saudis reassured by the Malcolm who formed a mutual admiration society with Che Guevara instead of the earlier model who favored free enterprise?

Incidentally, if Ergun truly is seeking an orthodox Muslim who believes that Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same God, then Malcolm, after his submission to the Saudi authorities, fits the bill: "Malcolm now claimed that God embraced Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike — 'We all believe in  the same God' — and denied that whites were 'devils,' insisting 'this is what Elijah Muhammad teaches. . .'" (Manning Marable, Malcolm X, p. 407).

In a similar vein, interviewed by Pat Robertson of Christian Broadcasting Network, Ergun Caner explained about the Satanic Verses:

"Pat Robertson: What about the satanic verses? Salman Rushdie said that in the Koran Muhammad admitted that certain of it came from Satan. I have not read the Koran and certainly not in Arabic. Is that true?
"Ergun Caner: He started to have seizures at the age of 40 and his wife assured him it was from god and not demonic. What Salman Rushdie did was he switched it. He asked, What if the seizures and the visions that Muhammad received were from Satan? That's why it is called the 'Satanic Verses.'
"Pat Robertson: I was under the impression that Rushdie found something where Muhammad was questioning if it was from Satan.
"Ergun Caner. He did. Muhammad did question that. His wife said it was from god." ('Islam Unveiled,' by the 700 Club, Interview transcribed at CBN.com).

Why did Pat Robertson, a TV personality who claims no special expertise in Islam, know what the Satanic Verses were, when Ergun Caner, the son of a muezzin, who was 'devout,' and indeed even a 'Wahhabi,' knew nothing about it? ("But we were devout. . .We are Sunni, but my father is a subset of Sunni, Wahhabi. I'm sure you've heard of them." (Ergun Caner, Seattle Apologetics Seminar, Islam101.mpg, 34:20-34:57). The 'Satanic Verses' are not a generic reference to questions about the authenticity of the Koran, but rather a specific set of 'abrogated' verses which compromised with polytheism. Naturally the question arises, if Muhammad was capable of this level of theological error, and there is nothing in the process which produced the Koran to prevent it, although he subsequently thought better of the matter and removed the verses, what is to prevent there remaining in the Koran theological error? Could the denial of the deity of Jesus Christ be such an uncorrected error?:

The Southern Baptist Convention have rejected every invitation to see the light on the Caner brothers, who have powerful backers: Ergun is Paige Patterson's spiritual son. So presumably they are ensconced in place for the duration of this 'long war.' The Caner brothers' most resonant teaching has been their demonization of Muslims, who are presumed to be all dangerous all the time, every one of them a terrorist. According to Ergun, no Muslim has any concept of God's love; but the Koran suggests otherwise,

"O ye who believe! should any of you desert His religion, God will then raise up a people loved by Him, and loving Him, lowly towards the faithful, haughty towards the Infidels." (Sura 5:59).

It is because of the Caner brothers, though not only them, that law-abiding Muslims must look quizzically at those next to them in the mosque, wondering if their neighbor is a fellow worshipper or a police informant. In the years since Islamophobia has come into vogue, the police in New York City and elsewhere have abandoned the quaint old notion that you must have probable cause before you can institute surveillance of a private place of worship. It would certainly have a chilling effect if Christians had to look at the neighbor seated on the pew next to them and wonder if he is the snitch, or someone else. Who would hang around for coffee and doughnuts, the cars would scatter from the parking lot as soon as church was over. Religious liberty for American Muslims has been lost as Islamophobia has become a major profit center for Southern Baptists.

The Caner brothers insist they viewed their Turkish immigrant father, Acar Mehmet Caner, as their hero. However, Ergun routinely accuses his hero of crimes such as bigamy and sedition. According to Ergun, Acar had many wives; speaking at the California Apologetic Conference, Ergun explained that Acar used the "Abraham lie" in entering the U.S., pretending that one of the excess wives was a sister. Polygamy at the time was illegal in Turkey, Sweden, and the U.S. Moreover, Ergun claims to have been continuing a family tradition in his devotion to terrorism. If this is how you talk about your "hero," what would you say about someone you dislike?

Not translating 'Allah' as 'God' is very important to Ergun, even though most Arabic-speaking Christians refer to 'God' as 'Allah:'

"I'm tired of hearing it on the news, I'm tired of hearing it on the radio, I'm tired of reading it in the paper. The God of Islam, Allah, is NOT the God of the Bible. [...] . .Hear me. All the debates I've had, and you can go to Erguncaner.com, they're free, I'm not selling anything, they're free, the debates are podcasts, and you can just do with them what you want. All the debates I've had, I have never met one Muslim who has ever said that the Allah of the Qur'an and Jehovah God of the Bible are the same God. Nobody with a brain in their head would say this."  (Ergun Caner, Southwest Baptist Church, Amarillo, TX January 23, 2010, 19:04-20:13).

This is a big applause line for some reason. When we say, 'Jesus is God,' our English word 'God' comes from the German 'Gott.' Think of a pagan German god: Odin, perhaps? But we are not thinking 'Odin' when we ascribe deity to Jesus Christ. Is 'Allah' a pagan moon god? Are Muslims offended at the suggestion that 'Allah' and 'Jehovah' are the same god?:

This is controversial because is not just saying that he does not consider Allah and Jehovah to be the same, he says that no Muslim would ever say so:

"But you see this is a message from our culture. This is not a message from the Muslims. As a matter of fact I have yet to find, in all of my debates, in universities and colleges and such with Muslims, and ulema, that is scholars, I have yet to find one Muslim who believes that Allah and Jehovah are the same God. This message that we get comes from misguided Christians and, God help us, the media."
(Todd Wilken, host, Issues, Etc., Jul_14c.wma, 4:09-4:37)

Certainly it's his privilege to speak for himself,— he cannot differentiate this question from the question whether Muslims are saved,— but he claims to be speaking for all Muslims. Has he, in fact, ever debated Muslims on this point? Some Muslims do follow the Koran's lead on this point.


Turkish TV

Ergun Caner grew up in suburban Ohio, yet right up until the time of this sermon, in January of 2010, he was claiming he grew up abroad, generally in Istanbul, Turkey, and studied terrorism at Madrassah in Beirut and Cairo. Sometimes he made the Islamophobic point that all he knew about Christians came from the Imam in his mosque: "I came here as a missionary to you. I didn't know Christians, I thought you hated me. Everything I ever learned about American Christianity I learned in the mosque from my Imam or from my Madrassah, my training center. And so every other place I'd ever lived I lived there as a majority person, I lived within majority Islamic countries, then I come to America." (Ergun Caner, Testimony at Decatur Baptist Church, Alabama, 'Church-house or Jailhouse,' 20050112PM.mp3, 49:12-49:38). But then it turns out, in Ergun's story-telling ways, that there were all manner of other sources of information, including even Lutheran Radio! Was it his Swedish grandmother Mor-Mor who turned the dial to that station? Sometimes it seems like Ergun gets bored telling the same story twice, although the material becomes repetitious; often he forgets the business about the Imam and pretends instead he learned about America through the American television programs which the Turkish censors allowed to get through, including Andy Griffith and Dukes of Hazzard:

  • "Everything I knew about America I knew through television before I came here. Now, could you imagine?
  • "In Turkey. . .in Turkey, where we were watching television, whatever the Turkish government allowed, that was my glimpse of America. And so I would watch that and say, that must be America.
  • "The first thing that I remember, that I vividly remember, is a thing called Andy Griffith. You guys know Andy Griffith, right? Loved Andy, but I thought all of America was like Mayberry. And I lived in the city, and there really wasn't, you know, there was not a lot in common with those two.
  • "Dukes of Hazzard was another one. Loved the Dukes, man. Wanted to marry Daisy and work at the Boar's Nest. I loved the Dukes of Hazzard.
  • "And the third one. . [...] . .The third thing we got every two weeks, Dr. Spear. Every two weeks we would receive a two-hour clip on our Turkish national television. Georgia Championship Wrassling. Yeah, baby. And I thought the Americans were the strongest people in the world. They get hit in the head with shoes and boots and chains and they get back up."

  • (Ergun Caner, Southwest Baptist Church, Amarillo, TX, January 23, 2010, 10:17-11:39).

It's difficult to imagine most of these TV shows, and others he has claimed like Chicago Cubs baseball games, actually ever were shown on Turkish television, but his audiences are nothing if not gullible:

"There are misconceptions that we have to deal with when we talk about Islam. We have, my people, we have misconceptions about you. You have misconceptions about us. Coming to America, the only thing that I understood, I was fifteen when we came, the only thing. . .or thirteen when we came; the only thing that I understood about American culture I got from American television. And the only television that we were allowed to watch was the television that passed the conscriptions of the censors in Turkey. I lived in al-Karab [sp?], I lived toward the East for the most part of my life, on the Iraqi border. I want to name three of them and
show you how misconceptions operate. One thing we were allowed to watch was Andy Griffith. I love Andy. [...] . .
"We used to get Chicago Cubs baseball. [...] . .But I wanted to learn American baseball. And so WGN used to send Chicago Cubs baseball. And so I thought that the purpose of baseball was to lose, because every time. [laughter]. .I know Dr. Sire's [sp?], I know Dr. Sire's a fan of the Cubs, but every time I saw them play they were getting stomped like a narcotics officer at a biker rally, or something, they were just hammered like a husband at a marriage conference, every time I turned around."
(Ergun Caner, Seattle Apologetics Conference, Apologetics of the Bible, Islam, Islam101.mpg, 9:59-12:21).

These inventive stories are compatible neither with one another nor with reality. He grew up in Ohio. Why a child who grew up in Ohio would be watching Turkish TV is equally unclear; was there some El Cheapo cable service that bundled Turkish-dubbed U.S. programming? Does the broadcast signal bounce off the stratosphere? There were people who believed this schlock first offered, and there are many who still do. Or, if he really was a foreign-trained terrorist as he claimed, learning about America from American TV is not


Ergun 'Mehmet' Caner

Ergun offers his name to his audiences as 'Ergun Mehmet Caner,' or sometimes variants; he will toss in a 'Giovanni' or 'Mikhail' now and again when the mood strikes. This is not his name on legal documents, which is 'Ergun Michael Caner.' He has stated he substituted his father's middle name for his own as a 'tribute' to his Dad,— the very same man he is ever (falsely) accusing of bigamy and sedition. Use of a 'stage name' is somewhat of a gray area. But Ergun takes it a step further, insisting that Ergun 'Mehmet' Caner is his real name, though it is not:

"Most of the people who have my background usually take an assumed name when they write, when they speak. For instance, one of the great writers in Christianity today on the topic of Islam is a guy by the name of Abdul Saleeb. But that's not a name, that's a title. Abdul Saleeb means 'slave of the cross.' It's because we live with threats. We live with. . . We are murtad. We are blasphemers who have committed the highest sin which is called 'shirk,' and thus we are condemned to death. And so, you know, I came up against that. Our first book came out about fifteen-sixteen years ago. And we decided, my brother and I decided we were going to write under our own names."
(Ergun Caner, Speaking at Southwest Baptist Church, Amarillo, TX, January 23, 2010, 1:19-2:09).

The thing is, Ergun 'Mehmet' Caner is not his real name. Another: "She does not call me by my real name. My real name is Ergun Mikhail Mehmet Giovanni Caner. That's why they were arguing about how to pronounce my name in the back. She calls me Butch." (Ergun Caner, Testimony at Decatur Baptist Church, Alabama, 'Church-house or Jailhouse,' 20050112PM.mp3, 50:48-50:58). No, it's not. Ergun is 'edgy,' what he offers his listeners is the pulpit equivalent to 'shock-jock' radio. For instance, one does not commonly hear a minister speaking from the pulpit mock the physical appearance of church folk, but there's this:

"I was 30 before I got married. You can imagine the life that my brothers and I lead. There's only eight of us, there's only eight former Muslims who go around speaking nationally and use our real names. Everybody else uses pseudonyms. Anish Horosh [sp?], Abdul Saleeb, David Nasser. Those are pseudonyms. We use our real names. See, I didn't want to invite this on somebody else, and quite frankly, at 30 years old, I was happy as a bachelor. That means from 18 to 30 I was a single pastor, and that means in small country churches, I don't mean to offend you but I'm going to, a single pastor is like blood to sharks to the blue-haired women in the church. Right? Soon as they see a single pastor show up, what do they do do? 'Oh, I've got the perfect one for him.' That's not the perfect one. It's the one they couldn't give off to the doctors and lawyers. So they drag these mutant grand-daughters out of closets. Like, 'Come here, Beulah, come here!' And she's, 'Erf-erf-erf' [sounds like seal barking].  'She ain't much to look at but she can pray real good.'" (Ergun Caner, Testimony at Decatur Baptist Church, Alabama, 'Church-house or Jailhouse,' 20050112PM.mp3, 1:07:34-1:08:42).

Since these were small country churches, these girls probably know exactly who he's talking about. He wrote an entire book, with Mac Brunson, devoted to this kind of score-settling. Apparently this insult schtick, reminiscent of Don Knotts, is popular with today's Southern Baptist audiences. Ergun 'Mehmet' Caner is not, in fact, his real name. He continues to publicize it, however, without ever bothering to change his name legally, which is not difficult, in keeping with his thus far successful strategy of brazening it out.