Evangelical Manifesto Erroneously Lists Prominent Evangelical Leaders as Signatories

May 16, 2008

Following the release of the so-called “Evangelical Manifesto” (EM) during a press conference at the National Press Club, Dr. Ergun Caner, President of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School, was shocked to learn that his name was listed as one of the “Charter Signatories.” Dr. Caner has publicly repudiated the document’s anti-activism position. The Seminary is part of Liberty University, the largest and fastest growing evangelical university in the world, with more than 37,000 students. Liberty University was founded by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell in 1971.

“There is only one problem,” Dr. Caner stated, “I never signed it.” Dr. Caner explained: “A few months ago, I was consulted by a member of the steering committee and invited to read through a rough draft. At that time, I stated in an email that I felt the language concerning the forefathers of evangelicalism was too dismissive and too harsh. Men such as the founder of our University, Dr. Jerry Falwell, acted with courage in putting evangelical Christianity on the frontlines of the American dialogue.”

Dr. Caner further stated, “I must state for the record, the Evangelical Manifesto does NOT reflect my position, and the speakers at the national press conference do NOT reflect my position concerning the current state of Evangelicalism.… Simple logic states that standing for something requires standing against something else. This was the genius of men such as Dr. Jerry Falwell, D. James Kennedy, Tim LaHaye, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Adrian Rogers and others. They accepted the challenge of an unabashedly secular society without hesitation and without reservation. These forefathers raised up a generation of men and women who continue to speak in the public square and build great institutions that do the same. I shall continue to stand in the public square without apology.”

The EM’s website also erroneously lists Dr. Jerry Falwell as a signatory. Jerry Falwell, Jr., the Chancellor of Liberty University, responded to the error: “As the founder of the Moral Majority, dad would not endorse a document that appears to undercut political activism. My dad was a man of courage who paved the way for a generation of socially conservative activists. He never backed away from his resolve to please God. He was a tireless defender of the sanctity of human life and family values.”

Mathew D. Staver, Dean of Liberty University School of Law and Founder of Liberty Counsel, commented: “The Evangelical Manifesto does not represent the views of Dr. Jerry Falwell, Dr. Ergun Caner, Liberty University, or, for that matter, the majority of evangelicals. While some might shy away from the public square, most evangelicals do not. Life and marriage are nonnegotiable. While our discourse must be civil and our compassion must be genuine, our resolve must never waiver.”