Mr. Mohammad Khan has responded to that sentence this way:
the part about his father being an islamic leader is a lie too.Mr. Khan's criticism is excessive, but makes some valid points. Caner's father apparently occasionally (not constantly) served as müezzin (the Turkish equivalent to مؤذن mu’aḏḏin identified by Khan above). That person does lead the call to prayer, and consequently is (in some sense) a leader. Thus, it is not an outright lie. However, a müezzin is not a religious leader, in the sense that an imam is a leader or (in a Church) a pastor is a leader. The expression "Islamic leader" may not strictly speaking be a lie, but it is similar to calling someone who occasionally led congregational singing a "Christian leader." It conveys an impression that is not accurate.
a mu’athin is merely somebody who gives the call to prayer. not an islamic leader.
even if you read his book – unveiling islam – you will read that his father only gave the call to prayer “on occasion” – he is not even worthy of being called a mu’athin. ergun is basically lying his way out of another lie.
The statement "devout Sunni Muslim" is also troubling. Caner's numerous embarrassing mistakes on details of Islam do not suggest that he was a particularly devout youth. Obviously, the claim "devout" is hard either to prove or disprove, so it is difficult for us to evaluate with any certainty whether this is true. It is a troubling claim because of the errors that Dr. Caner has made when speaking about Islam, errors that suggest (but don't prove) that Caner was only a practicing Muslim, and not a particularly devout one.
Finally, the statement "disowned by his family" is troubling. It is clear from the records we have, both from Caner's own statements and elsewhere, that only Caner's father disowned him and not his whole family. Saying he was disowned by "his family" suggests that the entire family (or most of the family) disowned him, when - in fact - it was just his father. Furthermore, in Caner's specific situation, namely that he was living with his mother who was divorced from his father, it is even more odd to characterize the situation as "disowned by his family" when only his non-custodial parent disowned him.
The second troubling sentence is this: "For the past twenty years, he has debated leaders in twelve major world religions, including Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Bahai, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and many others." It's also troubling because it appears that the wording is not simply misleading, but false.
Again, this word "leaders" is troubling. Does it simply mean people who have served in any official or semi-official capacity within those religions? Here's a challenge for Liberty University: name and provide the leadership credentials of even one leader of each of the twelve religions that Dr. Caner has debated. That may be asking too much. Perhaps they could just one leader he's debated for each of the six religions they listed.
Indeed, as has been previously noted, we've scoured the Internet looking for any evidence of any formal debates between Dr. Ergun Caner and anyone at all, much less any "leaders." The Encyclopedia of Religious Debates doesn't identify any debates, and the one "debate" that Dr. Caner himself has identified is simply an e-mail exchange with Nadir Ahmed, who is certainly an apologist for Islam, but is not necessarily a "leader."
I should note that, by contrast, Dr. White actually debated Nadir Ahmed on the topic: "Can We Trust What the New Testament Says about Jesus and the Gospel?" on March 21, 2008, in Norfolk, VA - You can watch that debate here: (link). Sam Shamoun has also actually debated Nadir Ahmed - his topic was "Is Islam a religion of Peace?" and took place on November 3, 2007 at Hope International University, Fullerton, CA (you can watch it here). I'm not sure anyone would call Nadir a "leader of Islam" and I'm not sure whether an email exchange is really a "debate" but let's be generous to Liberty University and permit them to count this as the "Islamic leader" for this category. So, all they have to do to meet the challenge of demonstrating the truthfulness of their claim is to identify the Buddhist, the Taoist, the Bahai, the Mormon, and the Jehovah's Witness "leaders" that Caner has "debated."
I have no doubt that people who are adherents of each of those religions has discussed religion with Dr. Caner. I wouldn't be surprised if Dr. Caner has tried to defend Christianity against college students who represented even more than a dozen world religions (as well as atheist and agnostic college students) and that's great.
Incidentally, Dr. Caner's new autobiography on his personal website is less troubling. The only questionable item I observed there was his claim to have been raised a "devout Sunni Muslim" when, in fact, "devout" may be a little strong.
P.S. Thomas Twitchell has stronger words about the situation (link) and is the place where I found Mr. Khan's criticism (in the comment box there).