By Bob Allen
A federal judge has dismissed a Georgia Baptist college president’s lawsuit against a blogger who posted video to support allegations that a famous “Jihad to Jesus” testimony is bogus.
A U.S. district judge in Fort Worth, Texas, ruled April 17 that Jason Smathers, a Southern Baptist pastor in Arizona who blogs at Witnesses Unto Me, was entitled to post government videos he obtained through the Freedom of Information Act under the “fair use” doctrine of copyright law.
Ergun Caner, president of Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Ga., filed a lawsuit last summer claiming ownership of two videos that Smathers posted of Caner speaking as an expert on Islamic culture in training for U.S. Marines preparing to deploy in 2005.
U.S. District Judge Terry Means, however, said Caner failed to make a case and that Smathers used the material fairly, as copyright law permits, for “purposes such as criticism, comment, [or] news reporting.”
“His sole purpose was to expose the inconsistencies in Dr. Caner’s biography and criticize a public figure,” the judge determined. If the unauthorized reproduction of his lectures caused Caner any financial loss, he continued, it was the result of “legitimate criticism” of his words.
Smathers has reposted video he obtained in 2010 of Caner telling Marines that he came to the United States at age 14 from Turkey and learned everything he knew about America from watching Andy Griffith, Chicago Cubs baseball and championship wrestling on TV.
Smathers also posted legal documents indicating that Caner was in fact born in Sweden, came to America when he was about 3 or 4 and grew up as a normal teenager in a suburb near Columbus, Ohio.
Caner admitted to “pulpit mistakes” but denied he ever tried to deceive anyone. Trustees of Liberty University, his employer at the time, decided not to reprimand Caner but later demoted him from his position as a dean.
Caner left Liberty in 2011 to become provost and vice president for academic affairs at Arlington Baptist College, an independent Baptist school in Texas founded by controversialist J. Frank Norris in 1939. Late last year Caner became president of Brewton-Parker, one of three colleges affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Caner’s brother, Emir, is president of Truett-McConnell College, also affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention. In 2002 they co-wrote Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs.
Former Southern Baptist Convention President Jerry Vines cited the book as the source behind his claim the same year that Muhammad was a “demon-possessed pedophile,” which incited cries of intolerance.
Vines’ pulpit at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., was one of the first giving high profile to Ergun Caner’s story of being trained as a Muslim terrorist to kill Americans before his radical conversion to Christ that gained popularity in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.