We realized last year that Christian pseudo-historian David Barton doesn’t have a real Ph.D. He has a couple of honorary doctorates from Christian colleges and claimed to have one “earned” degree from (what is almost certainly) Life Christian University, an unaccredited school that seems to hand out those degrees to famous preachers who might give them free publicity… even though there’s no actual work or thesis required to earn the diploma.
My Patheos colleague Warren Throckmorton did a little more digging last year and found out some verrrrry interesting details about another degree recipient, Joyce Meyer, the author and televangelist.
At the time, her website said:
Joyce holds an earned PhD in theology from Life Christian University in Tampa, Florida; an honorary doctorate in divinity from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and an honorary doctorate in sacred theology from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.
Besides the two honorary degrees, she, too, mentions that “earned” Ph.D. from Life Christian University (which means she didn’t actually do any work).
But what stood out to Throckmorton was the fact that her ministries were headquartered in Missouri. He wrote:
In Missouri, it is a class C misdemeanor to use a false or misleading degree.
He then contacted the MO Department of Higher Education, and later the Attorney General, to report the problem.
Before I tell you how that worked out, keep in mind that Meyer and Barton could’ve fixed this problem very easily. All they had to do was stop promoting the fake degree. They should’ve promised to never mention Life Christian University again or pretend like they were “doctors” of anything. An apology followed by a complete purge of anything referring to that fake degree could’ve done the trick. The people who bought into their lies (along with the actual Ph.D.s who put in all that time and hard work) deserved at least that.
But it never came. There were no apologies.
But at least Meyer made a change. Throckmorton now reports that her website no longer refers to an “earned” Ph.D.
Joyce holds an honorary PhD in theology from Life Christian University in Tampa, Florida; an honorary doctorate in divinity from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and an honorary doctorate in sacred theology from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.
Look at that. It’s as if she had never written the lie.
Throckmorton says he first noticed that change in November, after he formally complained to Missouri officials. So was that the reason? Was his complaint what prompted that change? He writes:
Until recently, I did not know why Joyce Meyer Ministries changed the designation from “earned” to the more accurate “honorary.” A few days ago, I received an email from the MO AG office indicating that action had been taken on my complaint. Attached to email was a March 29, 2017 letter from an attorney for Joyce Meyer Ministries to the MO AG’s office indicating that the designation had been changed on the website because the description was inaccurate. About LCU’s description of an earned degree, the spokesman for Joyce Meyer Ministry wrote:
While we are aware that this is the verbiage that Life Christian University uses on their own website and literature, we simply felt it did not accurately reflect the information correctly. Because of this we took the initiative to change the wording on our website and literature from “earned” to “honorary” before this complaint was filed.
There you have it. Meyer’s team say they did this entirely on their own. The fact that a complaint was filed before they made the change was completely coincidental. Sure.
And if you believe that, then you probably think Donald Trump has had an incredibly successful first 100 days in office…
While the change itself is ultimately more important than what prompted it, I don’t think for a second that Meyer would’ve altered her bio if people like Throckmorton hadn’t pointed it out first, formal complaint or not.
But that also raises another point. Meyer knew she never earned a Ph.D. and yet she was more than happy to lie about it on her website for a long time.
What does that say about her own faith-based ethics? I guess the Commandment against lying doesn’t count when it boosts your credentials.
(Screenshot via YouTube. Large portions of this article were published earlier)