A Year Ago Today David Barton Claimed to Have an Earned PhD

A year ago today, religious right activist and member of Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration David Barton posted the following video on his Facebook and YouTube accounts.

In the video, Barton chastises progressives for questioning his claim to have an earned doctorate. He said he has an earned doctorate but that he has chosen not to talk about it. However, the next day Barton chose to take the video off of both websites and chose not to talk about the reasons why.
Barton’s haughty claim to have an earned doctorate gave way to silence after it was revealed that the degree came from Life Christian University, a

Life Christian University diploma reflection
Life Christian University diploma reflection

diploma mill. According to the president of Life Christian University, Douglas Wingate, Barton didn’t attend the school but was given credit for his historical writings. Even though one cannot meaningfully call a degree earned when you don’t take any classes, that is exactly what LCU does with famous preachers and religious leaders.

The state of Missouri advised fellow LCU degree recipient Joyce Meyer that her claim of an earned PhD from the school was against state law. Meyer’s lawyer responded that Meyer had already decided that describing the LCU PhD as earned was false. Meyer now describes her LCU degree as honorary. Although that description is legal in Missouri, LCU’s is not accredited by a Department of Education recognized accrediting body and the status as a university is unusual since the school is registered with the IRS as a church.
Barton called his degree earned but sarcastically dismissed the honest reporting of what he called progressives. Barton has never explained or apologized for his demeaning and misleading statements. Yet, he still claims to be “America’s premier historian.” Would “America’s premier historian” try to pass off what can only be called an honorary degree as an earned one?

As of now, America’s premier historian has chosen not to talk about it.

Gospel Coalition: David Barton is Doing it Wrong

Writing for the Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor gets right to the point: David Barton does history wrong. And Taylor recommends my book (with Michael Coulter) Getting Jefferson Right.
That right there is a great post.
The reason for the post is to point readers toward well researched and written sources on America’s founding. For the most part, I think Taylor put together a great list of resources on the religious dimensions of the founding era.
I do take issue with two sentences Taylor wrote:

In fairness to Barton, he has gotten better in recent years in not circulating as many bogus quotes, labeling some of them as “unconfirmed.” However, the source mining and the problematic historiography, where the evidence is forced to fit the predetermined thesis, continue.

In fairness to Taylor, it is hard to keep up with Barton’s shenanigans. However, Barton hasn’t gotten better. For instance, there is the Jefferson quote Barton essentially made up using Jefferson’s words but with a rearranged meaning. Then, there is the Lincoln quote which Barton claimed for Lincoln but did not come from honest Abe. In a WND article, Barton goes for two questionable quotes which can’t be found in original source material. These problems all occurred in 2017.
One more thing Taylor could have mentioned is Barton’s fraudulent doctorate degree. Back in late 2016, Barton blasted progressives for saying he didn’t have an earned degree. Then, when it was discovered that Barton’s earned degree came from a diploma mill, Barton went quiet. Not only does Barton do history wrong, he does academia wrong as well.
I hope Taylor’s post gets distributed widely.

Joyce Meyer Ministries: Life Christian University's Description of Earned Doctorate Does Not "Accurately Reflect the Information Correctly"

LCUS.Edu
LCUS.Edu

On October 7, I reported that evangelist Joyce Meyer claimed to have an earned PhD in theology from Life Christian University. She claimed to be a graduate on a promotional video still housed on the LCU website and said the degree was earned on her website. On October 11, I filed a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General’s office in keeping with MO law which forbids the use of false and misleading degrees in connection with one’s business or profession.
Sometime after the initial post and the AG complaint was filed, Joyce Meyer Ministries changed the designation of the LCU degree from “earned” to “honorary.” I know the change happened after the complaint was filed because the degree was described as “earned” on October 15, 2016 (from the Wayback Machine on Oct. 15). I discovered the change in November.
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.

While it is a small point, the initial post was public and the complaint was filed before the change was made. Nevertheless, I commend Joyce Meyer Ministries for this change and for acknowledging the truth about the situation. This is much more than David Barton or other so-called “earned degree” holders have done. I now call on her to remove her endorsement of LCU which she has acknowledged incorrectly reflects information about the degrees given to LCU’s “distinguished degree holders.”
Missouri’s law is one of the toughest in the nation on false and misleading degrees. Other LCU “distinguished degree holders” from MO include Billye Brim and Larry Ollison.

Six Months Later David Barton Still Hasn't Explained His Earned Doctorate

In early September of 2016, self-styled historian David Barton posted the following video:
[youtube]https://youtu.be/7ivAbp6vX-0[/youtube]
The day after he posted the video, he removed it from his Wallbuilders website and Facebook page. He has never addressed why the video was up for a day and then gone.
Barton Life University SealBarton ridiculed progressives for disbelieving his claim to have an earned doctorate. Then all of a sudden the video was removed and he stopped talking about his doctorate. None of the people who rely on his work apparently care that he claimed to have an earned doctorate when in fact it came from diploma mill Life Christian University. The claim just vanished as if it never happened.
Will Barton ever address his claims?
For the rest of the story, see these posts.
 

David Barton's PhD School Life Christian University Claims America's Founding Is Church History

Nearly three months ago, David Barton proudly proclaimed that he had an earned PhD. The very next day he removed the video claim from his websites and never explained why. We later learned that Barton’s earned degree came from Life Christian University, a diploma mill based in Lutz, FL. Barton’s degree was given based on his published works in history which Life Christian considered to be part of Church history.
Now, via another statement from Life Christian University, more details are available about Barton’s so-called earned degree.  According to LCU, “earned” PhD degrees are awarded based on published works.

This is our process for awarding earned degrees based on published works:
1. We accept a student’s earned degrees from other institutions based on their official transcripts.
2. We award credit for published works commensurate with the amount of writing required for a Master’s Thesis or a Doctoral Dissertation.
Please note that earned degrees based on published works are all issued only from our Main Campus in Tampa, FL, and say that clearly on the degree certificate.

And so it appears that LCU accepted Barton’s BA from Oral Roberts University and considered his self-published books as meeting the writing requirement. The requirements are minimal:

The Doctoral-level dissertation must be a minimum of 150 pages in length. It should not exceed 160 pages.
The Master’s level thesis must be a minimum of 50 pages in length. It should not exceed 55 pages.

With those skimpy guidelines, anybody who has self-published a book would be eligible for LCU’s highest honor. The credit LCU awards for an earned degree don’t include any academic work as a part of a program. In other words, the degree is not actually earned and, if it has any status at all, it would have to be considered an honorary degree (as Joyce Meyer recently relabeled her LCU PhD as required by law in MO).
The guidelines don’t address what happens when an author’s book is pulled from publication due to errors.
If LCU was in compliance with FL law, no degrees outside of religious degrees would be offered. However, in Barton’s case, LCU has made an exception.

As a University with religious exemption, we only offer degrees that fall under that exemption.
Church History is part of our curriculum. Dr. Wingate feels that the founding of America and our country’s involvement in the unfolding of God’s plan for the nations of the world is one of the top topics of Church History for the last 400 years!

If America had a state church, then one might make this case. However, Wingate’s stretching of the truth is obvious for all to see. Furthermore, Barton claims expertise in “historical and constitutional issues,” not church history. A review of Barton’s books doesn’t turn up themes which comprehensively deal with the history of the church in America.
LCU only offers one course in Church History:

TH-431 CHURCH HISTORY This course teaches the student the origin of the Christian Church, its birth, and its development from the Day of Pentecost through modern times.

Obviously, this course does not address America’s political history. It also should be obvious that LCU’s faculty isn’t qualified to assess Barton’s work as a matter of history, church or otherwise.
How long will Barton and LCU carry on this charade?
 

Joyce Meyer No Longer Calls Her Life Christian University PhD an Earned Degree

After I pointed out that it is illegal in Missouri to claim an earned PhD when you don’t have one, mega evangelist Joyce Meyer has changed the description of her Life Christian University doctorate. Here is what she used to claim:
Joyce Meyer ministry PhD
She claimed that she had “an earned PhD in theology from Life Christian University…”
Now she accurately refers to the degree as honorary.
Joyce Meyer ministry PhD honorary
David Barton referred to his Life Christian University degree as earned but where it is illegal to do so, Joyce Meyer changed the description.

Brief Note: Wallbuilders Still Refers to Dr. David Barton

Even though David Barton has gone quiet about his claim to have an earned doctorate, his Wallbuilders Facebook page still refers readers to his work under the byline Dr. David Barton.
Dr. David Barton WB
On the newly revamped Wallbuilders Live bio of Barton, reference to his BA at Oral Roberts University has been removed.
On September 7, Barton claimed in a video posted on his Facebook and You Tube accounts that he had an earned doctorate. However, the next day Barton removed the video and Facebook post without explanation. While Barton did not mention Life Christian University as the source of the degree on the original video, it appeared to be a LCU diploma. Later, LCU president Douglas Wingate confirmed that Barton’s doctorate came from LCU.
LCU awards what president Wingate calls earned degrees to famous Christians who never attend or graduate from the school.  Wingate examines their written works and other materials to award a doctorate based on life experience. Despite the face that awarding a degree solely based on life experience is one of the marks of a diploma mill, Wingate defiantly defends the practice.
Other LCU “distinguished degree holders” who did not attend or graduate from LCU include Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, and Kenneth Copeland. Meyer prominently touts her “earned PhD in theology” on her website.
 

Full Statement from Life Christian University President Douglas Wingate on Earned PhDs

Recently, Christian Today posted an article about mega-evangelist Joyce Meyer’s and self-styled historian David Barton’s PhD degree from Life Christian University. In it, LCU’s president Douglas Wingate was quoted in support of his school’s work. I have obtained the entire statement and am posting it here.
I began looking into LCU when David Barton posted a video boasting about having an earned doctorate. The next day he removed the video and has not mentioned his PhD since. Although Barton points to the diploma while on camera, the identity of the school is hidden by one of his honorary degrees. Through enlarging the screen, I was able to determine that the source of the degree is LCU. In this statement, Wingate confirms the source of the degree. Given the statement Wingate provided, the description of the degree as being earned doesn’t seem accurate.
For background on the issue click here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Life Christian University’s position on earned, matriculated and honorary degree’s (sic)
Life Christian University is a ministry education institution that is designed to provide training for future ministers who desire to “rightly divide the word of truth” as described in the original doctrines of the New Testament. Though many professing Christians assume that their positions reflect what the Bible teaches, if they alter the operation of the Church and it’s theology in any fashion that does not resemble the miracle power and glory of the first century church, they are missing much of what is available to the born again believer.
Because of this disconnect with much of modern Christendom, LCU receives criticism from parts of the Church, and certainly from the unsaved people of the world system who criticize Christian academics altogether. Life Christian University is not moved for a moment by any criticism from those who simply do not qualify to comment on our beliefs and practices due to their spiritual ignorance, but we validate every position we teach through deep study of the Word of God, without religious influence.
For those who question the legal status of our operation, Life Christian University is exempt from licensure in the state of Florida, but does submit to the laws governing religious institutions with annual verification of compliance with the Commission for Independent Education, a division of the Florida Department of Education. Within this structure LCU provides ministry education in various spiritual disciplines for earned degrees at its main campus in Tampa, Florida and through licensing its curriculum to educationally qualified remote locations in various churches throughout the US and many foreign countries. LCU also offers an online program delivered from the main campus faculty, and available to anyone through the cyber-world who can access our web site and study in English. Our first course is free and available for anyone to view and listen to the lectures and read the free online textbook. Enrollment is not required in order to study the first course.
It seems that questions have arisen concerning various well-known ministers of the Gospel who we refer to as Distinguished Degree holders. These ministers are not graduates of LCU but are those for whom we recognize the comparable academic work in their published teaching materials, many of which we use as texts in our university, and we have matriculated degrees for their work. As with any regularly enrolled student, when we do an assessment on the former education that a student desires to transfer into LCU, we consider any former Bible School credit, liberal arts school credit, Bible School teaching credit and Published Works credit. It is a common practice for even secular liberal arts institutions to offer Life Experience credit.
When a minister has enough credit beyond their customary transfer credit, LCU is able to matriculate degrees for each of the various levels of credit. The first degree is the Bachelors degree, then the Masters degree, then the Doctor of Ministry degree and finally the Ph.D. The necessary credit hours of study that match these degrees is 120 credits of undergraduate study for the Bachelors degree, 36 credit hours of graduate study for the Masters degree, 15 hours of post-graduate study plus a 30 credit dissertation for the D.Min. and 15 hours of post-graduate study plus a 30 credit dissertation for the Ph.D. Again, these degrees may consist of transfer credit, and previously published works. This work, of course, must be for that which falls into the disciplines traditionally offered by the university, but an exception can be made for some work that is outside of, but related to those disciplines. One such discipline would be in Christian American History, which falls into the category of Modern Church History. All of the candidates work is thoroughly examined before credit is awarded and it is clearly identified on their transcript. That is certainly the case with Dr. David Barton, whose work in comparison to the revisionist historians, make them look completely foolish.
Some unsaved liberal academics are drastically opposed to our methods of assessment for earned degree credit, but they need only to concern themselves with their own anti-Christian and often Anti-Christ secular schools, which LCU has nothing in common with. Unfortunately in America, many of these institutions were founded as colonial seminaries, and early American seminaries. It is a tremendous blight on our nation that these secular education institutions have fallen so far from the grace of God, and are now tools of the enemies of God. The pendulum seems to have swung from godliness all the way to demon possession.
When critics complain about the independent, non-government accreditation that we have obtained, as opposed to secular government accreditation, my question is, “Why should the ministry education institutions subject themselves to unbelievers for academic oversight about education that they are absolutely ignorant of?” You wouldn’t ask a prostitute for their opinion on whether or not a virgin should remain pure until she is married. Neither should we subject ourselves to the scrutiny of the spiritually ignorant.
We do not offer any liberal arts in our programs, nor are we in competition with any liberal arts institutions, and therefore do not receive any government monies for our educational programs. In a way you could say we also believe in the separation of church and state. We simply believe that the state should not be involved in the church’s ministry education. In reality, since the first institutions of higher learning in America originated in the church, it seems that the liberal arts institutions should have to come to the church for accreditation. It would certainly change things if they had to meet our standards of spirituality and morality.
Finally, LCU does offer Honorary Degrees to some highly experienced ministers who do not have the formal education, but certainly have the equivalent ministry education, obtained on their own in a non-formal setting. A few of our distinguished degree holders fall into this category. The degrees that they have received are customarily the Doctor of Divinity degree, or Doctor of Sacred Music degree.
In answer to the question about whether we should change the status of our matriculated degrees to honorary degrees, the answer is emphatically, no. It is simply imprudent to compare apples to oranges, and the function of ministry education institutions do not compare to the lower forms of education offered in the secular liberal arts institutions. Those institutions should simply continue doing what they do, and we will simply continue doing what we do.
One day we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be face to face with Jesus himself. Believers will stand before him to receive our rewards for faithfulness to His call on our lives, and unbelievers will face him as Judge, jury and executioner. Then all of these questions will be eternally put to rest.
In his service for a quality, spiritual education,
Dr. Douglas J. Wingate
President and Founder

Wingate claims that Barton’s work in “Christian American History” falls under the category of “Modern Church History.” Wingate has to do this because LCU is only allowed to give degrees which have a religious word in the name and train people for work in the church. I would like to see Barton’s LCU transcript to see what experiences and books were counted as credits. Was The Jefferson Lies counted? How about Original Intent? Barton means these books to make authoritative claims about American history without any reference to religious vocation.
One reason religious schools are exempt from licensing as post-secondary schools is because they are training people to perform religious functions. The state rightly allows churches to determine what training is needed to perform religious duties. However, Barton claims he has an earned degree while purporting to do the work of a historian. If he claims his degree is in some kind of history, a strong case can be made that LCU has gone beyond what it is allowed to do.
In any case, religious or not, the claim that the “Distinguished Degree Holders” have earned degrees is preposterous and misleading. Wingate isn’t fooling anyone. It is time to stop the charade.

Life Christian University Confirms David Barton’s “Earned Doctorate”

Over a month ago, religious right luminary and self-styled historian David Barton bragged for one day in a video that he had an “earned doctorate.” Although he hid the diploma on the video, the doctorate appeared to come from Life Christian University, a school in FL which gives degrees in consideration for ministry experience. The day after he posted the video on Facebook and YouTube, Barton removed it from social media.  He has not commented since about the video or “earned doctorate.”

Now it seems sure that the degree Barton called earned was given to him by LCU. According to a statement to Christian Today from Life Christian University president Douglas Wingate, Barton’s written history works were considered as an aspect of awarding a doctorate. Wingate was quoted in an article today by Mark Woods at Christian Today.

Christian Today asked whether Barton had a PhD from LCU. Wingate appears to imply he does, saying: “All of the candidates work is thoroughly examined before credit is awarded and it is clearly identified on their transcript. That is certainly the case with Dr David Barton, whose work in comparison to the revisionist historians, make[s] them look completely foolish.”

Reviewing the full statement from Wingate, it seems that Barton’s work in history was used as a basis for his “earned degree.” Wingate said:

It seems that questions have arisen concerning various well-known ministers of the Gospel who we refer to as Distinguished Degree holders. These ministers are not graduates of LCU but are those for whom we recognize the comparable academic work in their published teaching materials, many of which we use as texts in our university, and we have matriculated degrees for their work. As with any regularly enrolled student, when we do an assessment on the former education that a student desires to transfer into LCU, we consider any former Bible School credit, liberal arts school credit, Bible School teaching credit and Published Works credit. It is a common practice for even secular liberal arts institutions to offer Life Experience credit.

When a minister has enough credit beyond their customary transfer credit, LCU is able to matriculate degrees for each of the various levels of credit. The first degree is the Bachelors degree, then the Masters degree, then the Doctor of Ministry degree and finally the Ph.D. The necessary credit hours of study that match these degrees is 120 credits of undergraduate study for the Bachelors degree, 36 credit hours of graduate study for the Masters degree, 15 hours of post-graduate study plus a 30 credit dissertation for the D.Min. and 15 hours of post-graduate study plus a 30 credit dissertation for the Ph.D. Again, these degrees may consist of transfer credit, and previously published works. This work, of course, must be for that which falls into the disciplines traditionally offered by the university, but an exception can be made for some work that is outside of, but related to those disciplines. One such discipline would be in Christian American History, which falls into the category of Modern Church History. All of the candidates work is thoroughly examined before credit is awarded and it is clearly identified on their transcript. That is certainly the case with Dr. David Barton, whose work in comparison to the revisionist historians, make them look completely foolish.

The crux of the problem is in Wingate’s description of “matriculated degree.”

These ministers are not graduates of LCU but are those for whom we recognize the comparable academic work in their published teaching materials, many of which we use as texts in our university, and we have matriculated degrees for their work.

A matriculated student is one who is enrolled in a degree program. Wingate says these “distinguished degree holders” didn’t graduate. Elsewhere Wingate has said they didn’t attend. If they didn’t attend or graduate, there is no meaningful way to describe their degree as “matriculated.” In short, he just added up any previous academic work somewhere else and added enough credit to get to a PhD without any attendance at LCU. By federal definition, this is what diploma mills do.

In light of the LCU statement, let’s review Barton’s claim
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ivAbp6vX-0[/youtube]

No wonder Barton wanted to hide the LCU degree behind one of his honorary degrees. If words mean anything, the degree can’t be considered earned.

Of course another problem with the degree is that it may be in Christian American History. One wonders who at LCU is qualified to judge whether or not Barton’s history is accurate. The answer is no one, because LCU president Wingate allowed the student to be the teacher. Here is what Wingate said about Barton in relationship to his critics.

One such discipline would be in Christian American History, which falls into the category of Modern Church History. All of the candidates work is thoroughly examined before credit is awarded and it is clearly identified on their transcript. That is certainly the case with Dr. David Barton, whose work in comparison to the revisionist historians, make (sic) them look completely foolish.

A little later in the statement, Wingate admits that LCU doesn’t offer liberal arts courses.

We do not offer any liberal arts in our programs, nor are we in competition with any liberal arts institutions, and therefore do not receive any government monies for our educational programs. In a way you could say we also believe in the separation of church and state. We simply believe that the state should not be involved in the church’s ministry education. In reality, since the first institutions of higher learning in America originated in the church, it seems that the liberal arts institutions should have to come to the church for accreditation. It would certainly change things if they had to meet our standards of spirituality and morality.

How could Barton get a degree in history from an institution which doesn’t offer history courses? As an exempt from licensing school in FL, LCU can’t offer degrees in anything other than ministry.

Perhaps, Barton took the video down because the use of a fake or misleading degree is illegal in Texas and other states. In any case, he has some explaining to do.

Evangelist Joyce Meyer Claims Earned PhD from Life Christian University, Missouri Law Forbids Use of False and Misleading Degrees

Life Christian University claims to provide earned degrees to “distinguished degree holders” who get PhDs based on their written works and ministry experience. At least some of those people portray them as earned academic degrees. Joyce Meyer is one of those degree holders.
Meyer, who is based in Fenton, MO, refers to the degree as an “earned PhD in theology” (in contrast to two honorary doctorates) on her website (see also here and here):
Joyce Meyer ministry PhD
She also recorded a video where she said she was a graduate of LCU. Watch:

Given what LCU says about the degrees on the school website and what founder and president Douglas Wingate said recently in a television interview, Meyer didn’t attend LCU and was given the degree without doing doctoral studies.
In Missouri, it is a class C misdemeanor to use a false or misleading degree. The law states:

Unlawful use false or misleading degree, when–violation, penalty.

173.754. 1. It is unlawful for a person to knowingly use or attempt to use, in connection with admission to any institution of higher education or in connection with any business, employment, occupation, profession, trade, or public office:
(1) A false or misleading degree from any institution of higher education, regardless of whether that institution is located in Missouri and regardless of whether the institution has been issued a certificate of approval or temporary certificate of approval by the board; or
(2) A degree from any institution of higher education in a false or misleading manner, regardless of whether that institution is located in Missouri and regardless of whether the institution has been issued a certificate of approval or temporary certificate of approval by the board.
2. For the purposes of this section, a degree is false or misleading or is used in a false or misleading manner if it:
(1) States or suggests that the person named in the degree has completed the requirements of an academic or professional program of study in a particular field of endeavor beyond the secondary school level and the person has not, in fact, completed the requirements of the program of study;
(2) Is offered as his or her own by a person other than the person who completed the requirements of the program of study; or
(3) Is awarded, bestowed, conferred, given, granted, conveyed, or sold in violation of this chapter.
3. The penalty for a violation of this section shall be a class C misdemeanor.
4. For purposes of this section, the term “board” shall mean the coordinating board for higher education.
(L. 2009 H.B. 62) (emphasis added)

A degree is false and misleading if a person claims an earned doctorate but did not complete a program of study. According to Wingate, Meyer and her fellow degree holders didn’t attend LCU but got an “earned PhD” in consideration for their “published works, along with their lifetime ministry achievements.” Meyer implies she earned it and graduated. Since her ministry is her occupation and business, I suspect this law applies to her and the other distinguished degree holders in MO (Billye Brim and Larry Ollison).
The remedy is easy. Just stop referring to the degree as earned. What LCU has done is award honorary degrees and they are allowed to do so, but, in some states, the recipients of those degrees aren’t allowed to deceive the public with them.  Missouri is one of those states.
When I contacted the MO Department of Higher Education, a spokesperson told me that the Department does not have investigative or enforcement authority related to this statute. Instead, she said complaints could be directed to the Attorney General’s office. A spokesperson for the AG’s office confirmed that a consumer complaint begins the process of investigation and enforcement.