Last week, self-styled Christian nation historian and and Donald Trump supporter David Barton crowed that he possessed an earned PhD. In a video posted to his YouTube account, Barton chastised “progressives” for saying he did not have a PhD. In the video, Barton told viewers that he had an earned PhD but did not say where he got it. In the background, three diplomas were displayed but one of them was partially hidden behind honorary degrees from Ecclesia College and Pensacola Christian College. However, enough detail could be seen to identify the mystery degree as a diploma from Life Christian University, an unaccredited school based in Lutz, FL. The next day Barton took down the video without explanation.
Barton claimed the degree from LCU was earned. However, the definition of “earned” in the land of LCU appears to be at odds with the rest of academia. LCU’s website identifies 18 people (e.g., Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland) who are labeled “Distinguished Degree Holders.” They are described as follows:
The distinguished ministers shown on this page are some of the most renowned preachers and teachers in the world today. Many are recognized throughout the entire world, but all of them are famous in heaven.
It has been the privilege of Life Christian University to recognize their published works, along with their lifetime ministry achievements in consideration for earned degrees from LCU. Doctorates in Ministry, Missiology, Theology and Philosophy are all earned degrees, recognized for the highest level of academics and spirituality.
LCU is honored to be associated with God’s greatest ministry gifts given to the Body of Christ today.
It sounds like LCU simply conferred a degree without any actual work.
Earlier this year, LCU president Douglas Wingate told Jonathan Miller that the “big name” preachers didn’t even attend the school. Watch:
Wingate: Big name ministers? What we’ve done in their cases; they haven’t attended Life Christian University but we’ve, we were able to recognize all of their scholarly work, their published material, whether it’s print materials or things that they’ve put out in teaching CDs and everything. And so Dr. Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, the list goes on and on and on, and the Lord’s just given us grace and favor to be able to come along side. We use their books in the university, we use theirs as textbooks. So to us it’s an honor to be able to recognize their academic work and the things that they’ve done for the Kingdom of God and so the degrees that they have are earned degrees. So we stack everything up, you know, from all of their teaching, their former education, everything else, all the way through their doctorate degrees and issue those.
Now there are a number of them that haven’t published as much and whatever and so they have some honorary degrees, but we know they have the equivalent ministry education. But you can go on our website, that’s LCUS.edu and take a look at all of those distinguished degree holders that we have, that we’re so proud to be able to be associated with, and labor in the harvest with them.
LCU is exempt from Florida’s law governing independent education. However, even exempt schools must meet some standards, including one about degree duration (1005.06-1.f.4).
4. The duration of all degree programs offered by the institution is consistent with the standards of the commission.
The Florida Commission for Independent Education sets standards for the duration of earned degrees and not even being enrolled in the school isn’t consistent with those standards. Schools like LCU are permitted to award honorary degrees but they must be clearly labeled as honorary degrees. By any definition, the degrees given to people who didn’t attend the school cannot meet the standard for an earned degree.
As I will demonstrate in a future post, I think LCU may be in violation of additional facets of the rules governing exempt schools.
David Barton opened a can of worms last week with his proud video.