Canonical List of Pastors & Teachers With Fake Doctorates


I previously created a short-list of televangelists who had fake degrees and at the time of creation I assumed that the televangelists were some of the few pastors who had fake degrees. Since then I’ve learned that the problem of fake doctorates is not a small phenomenon in the Christian world. In fact, I have been alerted now to probably 100 or more such pastors and teachers. Below will be an on-going, exhaustive, list of pastors and teachers of the Christian faith who have either fake degrees or try to pass off honorary degrees as earned degrees. If you find that someone is missing from the list, please send me their name and information and I will make sure they get added to the list.

Additionally, if I have added someone to the list in error, please let me know so it can be corrected.

  1. Dr. Patti Amsden
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Doctorate from Beacon University, Columbus, Georgia. Not a real university and it no longer exists. Now called Light University.
      1. Light University specializes in junk certificate programs that are unaccredited but transfer to Liberty University ….. Because why not. Liberty has already established that they don’t take academics serious.
      2. Light University also boasts curriculum designed by giants of theology such as Beth Moore. Wait, that must be a typo. No. Sadly it’s not. The classes are taught by televangelists who didn’t even bother to get a fake doctorate from BJU or ORU.
  2. (late) Dr. Richard E. Anderson
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D (FICU)
    4. He also handed out “degrees” from the fake seminary that he founded in 1975.
  3. Dr. David Barton
    1. Barton is an influencer in the GOP, as well as many other televangelists. Sadly, his only real education is from Oral Roberts University, about 40 years before they were accredited and they were just another diploma mill for hire.
    2. Barton is also a degree of some nature from Life Christian University (LCU)
    3. Honorary Doctorate from Ecclesia College and Pensacola Bible Institute
  4. Dr. Billye Brim
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. D.Th Life Christian University (LCU)
  5. Dr. Adonica Howard-Browne
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. LCU
  6. Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne
    1. People who have deceptive degrees tend to have Bio’s that use deceptive descriptions. On Rodney’s web page it says “Rodney taught classes in a leading Bible School for another two years“. Which leading schools? What classes? Why wouldn’t they list any details?
    2. B.A. Unknown
    3. M.A. Unknown
    4. D.Min, The School of Bible Theology in San Jacinto, California (another church school, not a real school)
    5. D.Th from Life Christian University (LCU)
  7. Dr. Dennis Burke
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D, Theology, Life Christian University(LCU)
  8. Dr. Juanita Bynum
    1. B.A./B.S. “earned” double major in Ministry and Business Administration, Institution Unknown
    2. M.A./M.S. “earned” double major in Ministry and Business Administration, Institution Unknown
    3. Ph.D, Theology, Institution Unknown
    4. Ph.D, Theology, Canadian Christian Theological Seminary, Alberta
      1. This school is clearly a diploma mill
      2. They don’t offer classes in theology much less Ph.D level courses.
  9. Dr. Mickey Carter
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D Unknown
  10. Dr. Holly Carter
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.B.A. USC Marshall School of Business
      1. This is a real accredited school.
    3. Ph.D. Ministry, from Southern California School of Ministry (SCSM)
      1. It should be noted that SCSM does not grant doctorate degrees and is not accredited.
      2. Not sure why someone with an MBA from USC Marshall would get a bogus doctorate.
  11. Dr. Hakeem Collins
    1. B.S. Sports Management, Marshall University
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Doctorate, Unknown
  12. Dr. Steve Collins (Other Bio)
    1. It hurts me to put someone on this list that has contributed so much to the field of biblical research. Collins has been published by a number of Biblical and Archaeological journals. As an independent researcher he was relatively respected. He has also done quite a bit of field work in the world of archaeology. Why he chose to give himself two fake Ph.D.s, I will never know. Maybe he doesn’t know that it makes him look slimy, not educated.
    2. B.S. Anthropology, New Mexico University
    3. M.Div. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
    4. D.Min. Luther Rice Seminary (Keep in mind that a D.Min. is not the same as a Ph.D., which is how Collins was able to complete it in just 2 years.)
    5. Ph.D. Biblical History & Religion, Trinity Theological Seminary
      1. This is where the list gets weird. Collins has real earned degrees already from good accredited schools. He even holds a real D.Min from a respected school. I have no idea why he took a left turn and ended up doing a junk Ph.D. from
      2. He also did not title this school properly. It is called Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary.
    6. Ph.D. Archaeology and biblical History, Trinity Southwest University
      1. This is not only an unaccredited school but it’s a school he started. He basically handed himself a Ph.D. Who taught the classes I wonder? I assume its an honorary degree. He also teaches at another junk school, Veritas International, which was started by Dr. Norman L. Geisler and Dr. Joseph M. Holden. To be fair though, the school looks like it want’s to turn into a real school one day. At least it’s trying. They have TRACS accreditation at this point.
  13. Dr. Gloria Copeland
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. D.Min, Life Christian University (LCU)
  14. Dr. Kenneth Copeland
    1. B.A. Uknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D Theology, from Life Christian University (LCU)
    4. Honorary Doctorate, Oral Roberts University (ORU)
    5. Honorary Doctorate, Grand Canyon University (GCU)
  15. Dr. Creflo Dollar
    1. B.A. Education, Unknown school
    2. M.A. Counseling, Unknown school
    3. Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, Oral Roberts University
  16. Dr. Jesse Duplantis
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Honorary Doctorate from Oral Roberts University (ORU)
  17. Dr. Tim Early
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Unknown degree from Rhema University
  18. Dr. Theresa Early
    1. Rhema University listed, degrees unknown
    2. B.A. Unknown
    3. M.A. Unknown
    4. Ph.D Unknown
  19. Dr. Lios Evans
    1. B.A. Business Administration, Dallas Baptist University
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Honorary Doctorate, Eastern College
  20. Dr. Mike Francen
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D Theology, Life Christian University (LCU)
    4. Doctorate of Missiology, (LCU)
  21. Dr. DeeDee Freeman
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Human Services, Liberty University (LU)
    3. Doctorate Unknown but I assume it’s from her husband’s fake school, Spirit of Faith Bible Institute (SOFBI)
  22. Dr. Michael Freeman
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D (FICU)
  23. Dr. Sam Gipp
    1. Bachelor of Divinity, Pensacola Bible Institute (PBI)
    2. Master of Theology, Clarksville School of Theology, Clarksville, TN
      1. Clarksville was shut down by the state in 1992 because it was a diploma mill (Source)
    3. Doctor of Theology, Clarksville School of Thology, Clarksville, TN
    4. Ph.D, Pensacola Bible Institute (PBI)
  24. Dr. Pastor Grady Gregory
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D Unknown
  25. Dr. John Hagee
    1. B.S. Education and History, Trinity University. (Real school, with accreditation)
    2. M.A. Education Administration, University of North Texas. (Real school, with accreditation)
    3. Unknown Diploma of theology from Assemblies of God University
      1. Then called Southern Bible Institute (operating in conjunction with the Richey Evangelistic Temple).
    4. Honorary Doctorate, Oral Roberts University (ORU)
    5. Honorary Doctorate, Netanya Academic College
    6. Honorary Doctorate, Canada Christian College
  26. Dr. Chris Haizlip
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D Unknown
    4. As far as I can tell, Dr. Christ and a few other men call themselves Dr. because they teach at a make-believe schools called Fundamental Baptist Bible College, which is based out of the basement of their church. I am not sure they understand how titles work. You don’t get to call yourself doctor because you teach a class.
  27. Dr. Sammy Halloway
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. No degree listed (FICU)
  28. Dr. Bob Harrison
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D Theology, Life Christian University (LCU)
  29. Dr. Ira V. Hilliard
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Doctorate, Unknown, Friends International Christian University (FICU)
    4. The sister of Ira Hilliard, Bridget Hilliard. She also has a fake degree from FICU but does not call herself doctor. Her materials always refer to her as Pastor, which is perfectly acceptable.
  30. Dr. Benny Hinn
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D Theology, from Life Christian University (LCU).
  31. Dr. Al Hollingsworth
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. No degree listed (FICU)
  32. Dr. Hattie Hollingsworth
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. No degree listed (FICU)
  33. Dr. Kent Hovind
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D,  Patriot Bible University (PBU)
    4. Kent was a high school science teacher so he has some degree that is real. However, PBU is a single building diploma mill in Colorado.
    5. His dissertation from the school has been available online for a number of years. It has no scholarly research in it, no real sources, poor grammar, and refers to itself as a book in a number of places. It can be accessed at the following link : Kent Hovind’s Terrible Dissertation.
  34. Dr. Jack Van Impe
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D, Pacific International University in an unknown field. (PIU)
      1. According to a few sources, Jack received an B.A. from Detroit Bible Institute, which then turned in to William Tyndale College, and more recently is no longer an active school. They closed their doors in 2005. (Source)
  35. Dr. T. D. Jakes
    1. B.A. Biblical Studies, Friends International Christian University (FICU)
    2. M.A. Biblical Studies, Friends International Christian University (FICU)
    3. D.Min. from Friends International Christian University(FICU).
      1. FICU is not only unaccredited but somehow Jakes did 12 years worth of higher education in less then 5 years there.
      2. Since the publication of my first article detailing the Jake’s fake degrees, his website has changed the degree dates to make it look more realistic.
  36. Dr. David Jeremiah
    1. B.A. Unknown, Cedarville University
    2. M.A. Unknown (probably M.Div) Dallas Theological Seminary
    3. Honorary Doctorate, Cedarville University
  37. Dr. Bernard E. Jordan
    1. Bernard is the father of the now popular scam-artist, Manasseh Jordan. He’s the guy that has been calling people claiming to be “St. Mary’s Prayer Center Ministry”. He robo-calls millions of people trying to scam people into donating. He’s been fined by the FCC a dozen times or so now.
    2. His son, Manasseh is so bad that now even Bernard’s website has a disclaimer stating that it’s not affiliated for Manasseh’s ministry. But Bernard is just another faker. He calls himself “Master Prophet Archbishop Jordan”. Yea, like that’s a real thing.
    3. He is basically a prophet for hire. He also holds amazing fancy dinners to celebrate his fake awards. Some costing hundreds of dollars. Here is one such advertisement for when he “ascended” to archbishop. Last I recall, most archbishops don’t put out a press release for a paid luncheon in their honor.
    4. Unknown educations from Tabernacle Bible Institute and Manhattan Bible Institute
      1. Neither schools are real and neither still exist today. But they do at least have a facebook page that was created and never used.
    5. B.A. Unknown, from Astrology from Kepler College
    6. M.Div. Virginia Union University (VUU) (class of 2019 and is a real school)
      1. I am honestly bewildered how he was accepted to this school. It’s not a great school but it’s still an actual ATS school with a few professors with excellent resumes.
    7. Ph.D. Friends International Christian University (FICU)
      1. Obviously he did not obtain a real Ph.D before completing an accredited M.Div.
  38. Dr. Henry R. Jones
    1. B.A. Biblical Studies, Moody Bible Institute (MBI)
    2. M.Div, Logos Graduate School
      1. Online diploma mill
    3. Ph.D, Unknown, Central Christian University
      1. Not a degree or Ph.D granting institution
  39. Dr. Rick Joyner
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D (North Carolina College of Theology)
  40. Dr. Ron Kenoly 
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. D.Min (FICU)
  41. Dr. Gene Kim
    1. B.S. Sociology, UC Berkley, 2007?
    2. M.A. Unknown (probably none)
    3. His youtube description says “Dr. Gene Kim has earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate Degrees from the Pensacola Bible Institute and the University of California at Berkeley”
      1. He deceptively describes his education to sound really educated, hoping that people will believe he has a Ph.D from Berkley, however, he never lists what his degree was at each school.
    4. Ph.D Unknown, Pensacola Bible Institute (PBI)
      1. PBI is a diploma mill that is based out of a Peter Ruckmanite church.
  42. Dr. Terry Law
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. (LCU)
  43. Dr. Tony V Lewis
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Lewis’ degrees are listed in his various bios but nowhere is a single institution listed.
    4. Lewis has founded a number of online diploma mills and his own accrediting agency (Linkedin)
      1. Accrediting Comission for Biblical Higher Education
      2. Christian Bible Institute & Seminary
      3. Hope Christian Academy
      4. Trinity Theological Seminary
      5. Global Christian Schools Network
  44. Dr. Carla D Lewis
    1. B.A. Unknown, but Facebook lists “Studied” at Lone Star College
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Doctorate Unknown, but probably from the fake school she is the Vice President of.
  45. Dr. Jeremy Lopez
    1. Lopez runs a host of online ministry efforts and also sells books, sermons, prophetic services, and runs conferences. He appears to be part of two different networks, both founded by himself: Identity Network and Now is your Moment.
    2. B.A. Unknown
    3. M.A. Unknown
    4. Ph.D Unknown
  46. Dr. John MacArthur
    1. B.A. Unknown, Los Angeles Pacific College
    2. M.Div Biola
    3. Honorary Doctorate, Grace Graduate School
    4. Honorary Doctorate, Talbot Theological Seminary.
    5. His honorary degrees are not an issue except that he calls himself Dr. John MacArthur, as if he earned the degrees but he did not.
  47. Dr. Bishop Clarence E. McClendon
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. No degree listed (FICU)
  48. Dr. Joyce Meyer
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D Theology, from Life Christian University, (LCU)
    4. Honorary doctorate in divinity from Oral Roberts University.
    5. Honorary doctorate in sacred theology from Grand Canyon University.
  49. Dr. Grady McMurtry
    1. B S, University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture – 1968
    2. MS, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science
    3. DD, School of Theology, Columbus, Georgia
    4. D Litt, Mid-Continent University, Kentucky
  50. Dr. Kevin McNulty
    1. B.S. Michigan State University
    2. M.A. in Missiology Life Christian University (LCU)
    3. Doctorate in Missiology Life Christian University (LCU)
  51. Dr. Leslie McNulty
    1. B.S. in Finance, Stetson University
    2. B.A. Church Administration, Life Christian University (LCU)
    3. M.A. in Theology, Life Christian University (LCU)
    4. Doctorate of unknown field, from LCU.
  52. Dr. Dick Mills
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D Theology, Life Christian University (LCU)
  53. Dr. Keith Moore
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Doctorate in Theology, Life Christian University (LCU)
  54. Dr. Stanely Moore
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D Theology, Life Christian University (LCU)
  55. Dr. Mike Murdock
    1. Three semesters at Southwestern Assemblies of God University (accredited).
    2. B.A. Unfinished
    3. M.A. Unknown (assumed also non-existent)
    4. Honorary Doctorate degree from International Seminary
  56. Dr. James LaVirt Netters, Sr.
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Pastor Emeritus of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church (ORU)
  57. Dr. Larry Ollison
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Theology, Life Christian University (LCU)
    3. Ph.D Theology, (LCU)
  58. Dr. Loretta Ollison
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D Theology, Life Christian University (LCU)
  59. Dr. Bob Ossewaarde
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Education, “From a major Christian college” according to his bio. Not sure why he didn’t just list which one.
    3. D.Min also “From a major Christian college” (I assume it’s a diploma mill, just like the school he teaches at)
  60. Dr. Denis Otero
    1. Diploma, Biblical Studies, Hal Lindsay’s Light and Powerhouse Training Center, Southern California
      1. This defunct institution is not a real school or a real degree granting establishment
    2. B.A. Theology from the University of Albuquerque, New Mexico
      1. No reference is made as to what the degree was in but the U of A has been closed for a very long time. (Source)
      2. It was a Catholic university that closed in 1986 and somehow this training provided Denis with the background to become a “priest” which he also claims to be.
      3. Though, it seems strange since his facebook claims that he was ordained a Catholic Priest by the Episcopal church.
    3. M.Div, Trinity Theological Seminary (TTS), Newburg, Indiana
      1. TTS is actually better known as “Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary” and they are a distance learning school.
      2. TTS is NOT a school based out of Liverpool England. That is a confusing note from Denis’ bio. TTS is a diploma mill based out of Newburg, Indiana and once had some distance learning classes in Liverpool. (Source)
      3. TTS applied for multiple accreditation and they were all denied. They still remain unaccredited by any recognized institution.
    4. Ph.D candidate, Religious Studies, Trinity Southwest University (TSU) (Source)
      1. TSU us is another non-accredited school yet is tries to sound accredited. They are accredited only as a provider of continuing educational units (CEU). They are NOT accredited for actual degrees.
      2. They list later on that “TSU has chosen to remain non-aligned with respect to accreditation.”(Source)
    5. D.Min, Southwest University, Albuquerque, New Mexico
      1. Interestingly, TSU and SW are the same school. The website lists them deceptively. The only schools in Albuquerque are TSU and a visual arts school. So it’s gotta be TSU.
  61. Jorge Parrott
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D (North Carolina College of Theology)
  62. Dr. Rod Parsley
    1. B.A. Ministry, Circleville Bible College
      1. Now called Ohio Christian University, which is an actual school.
    2. Honorary Doctorate, Indiana Christian University
    3. Honorary Doctorate, Liberty University
  63. Dr. Charles E. Perry, Jr.
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D (Union Bible Theological Seminary)
      1. UBTS is a diploma mill in a strip mall.
  64. Dr. Courtney Pope
    1. Certificate from Back To The Bible Correspondence School
    2. B.A. Communications, Temple University
    3. M.A. Unknown
    4. Doctorate, International Christian University
      1. His bio lists a real doctorate but the school listed is in Japan and they do not grant doctorates of divinity. ICU is also a respected school who would not accept a doctoral candidate without an actual master’s degree, of which Pope does not have.
      2. It’s more likely that the school in question is International Christian College & Seminary, which is a diploma mill and does grant doctorates of divinity.
  65. Dr. Frederick K.C. Price
    1. B.A. Unknown Friends International Christian University (FICU)
    2. M.Div, Unknown, (FICU)
    3. Ph.D, Unknown, (FICU)
  66. Dr. Betty Price
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree (No school named)
  67. Dr. Orrin Pullings
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Doctorate Unknown, Friends International Christian University (FICU)
  68. Dr. Medina Pullings (Facebook About Page)
    1. B.A. Christian Education, John Jay College
    2. M.A. Biblical Counseling, Bethel Bible Institute
    3. D.D. & D.Min, Friends International Christian University (FICU)
  69. Dr. Kenny Russell
    1. “Studied” at Tabernacle Bible College and Seminary
    2. B.A. Unknown
    3. M.A. Unknown
    4. Ph.D Unknown
  70. Dr. Larry Reid
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Christian Counseling, Apex College of Theology
      1. Apex is a church basement school that outgrew it’s basement. It’s by no means a notable Bible college but it does appear to be trying. It is a very young school and I suspect that it will eventually seek accreditation and real professional professors. However, at this time the school is still very much just a few partially educated people trying to educate someone even less educated.
      2. Apex is accredited by TRACS which has a very shady background. Their sole reason to exist is to get college federal grant money for schools teaching the creation model. The schools listed as accredited by TRACS are often church basement types or
    3. Ph.D Zion School of Ministry
      1. Zion is now known as Summit International School of Ministry
      2. Zion (like Apex) looks like a church basement college that has outgrown the church basement. It does not appear to be a diploma mill, just a young school that has yet to develop a professional staff or proper accreditation. As such, their classes only include basics, like Church History, Systematic Theology, OT Survey, NT Survey, Preaching, etc. These are classes that the common person can learn on their own, in the comfort of their own couch. They offer no high level courses, no Greek, no Hebrew, no ANE studies, no exegesis classes, and certainly no dissertation prep which would be required for “Dr.” Reid to get a Ph.D.
    4. Also currently taking classes at Hosanna Bible College
      1. Hosanna is accredited by a trifecta of bad accreditation agencies. They are accredited by TRACS, ACE, CHEA, and it appears also by INQAAHE. INQAAHE, however, is not part of the trifecta. They aspire to be better than the others.
      2. Like Reid’s other educational choices, Hosanna is another school that is hoping to be a real school one day. It seems clear that their staff is cut from the same cloth and are a collection of teachers with equally dubious degrees.
      3. The student handbook and the classes offered are quite refreshing. They even offer “elements” of biblical Greek and Hebrew classes. These classes usually require the student to learn the alphabets and get used to using a lexicon and Strongs Concordance. It’s not quite the same as actually learning the language but it’s a start.
      4. I suspect that 20 years from now Hosanna will be a real school seeking accreditation from ATS. This is the first school attended by Reid that can actually be called a college.
      5. Currently the school looks to be meeting in a church annex building.
  71. Dr. Gail Riplinger
    1. B.A. Interior Design
    2. M.A. Home Economics
    3. M.F.A.
    4. Honorary Doctorate from Hyles-Anderson College, actually just a First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. The “school” obviously is not accredited nor does it have a doctoral program.
      1. In her book, In Awe of Thy Word, Gails credentials are described thusly: “honored with a doctorate from the world’s largest church of it’s kind”
      2. Sometimes the truth is so stretched that silence is the better option.
  72. Dr. Peter Ruckman
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D, Bob Jones University
      1. It should be noted that at the time he attended BJU, it was still just a diploma mill. Since about 2007 BJU has made a HUGE move towards being a real educational institute, including removing many prominent televangelists from the board of directors. They received regional accreditation in 2014 (finally).
    4. His degrees are dubious, at best, and his founding of Pensacola Bible Institute is the best indication of his lack of real education.
  73. Dr. John Scheel
    1. B.A. Unknown, Central Baptist College (No field listed, but CBC is a real college)
    2. Master of Divinity from Luther Rice Seminary (A legit seminary and well respected)
    3. Ph.D., Toledo Bible College and Seminary (No field listed, the school was a fraud. Now goes by the name of Trinity College of Bible and Theological Seminary)
    4. Doctor of Religious Education from Moody Theological Seminary (Moody does not offer any Doctoral programs)
    5. Doctor of Human Letters from Washington Saturday College (This is an honorary degree and isn’t a real college)
    6. [WIP] Doctor of Philosophy at Oxford Graduate School (Fraud “house” college in Tennessee. It’s not Oxford, UK.)
  74. Dr. Keith Spanberger
    1. B.S. Unknown (assumed non-existent)
    2. M.A./M.Div.  Unknown (assumed non-existent)
    3. Honorary Doctorate from Kingsway University and Theological Seminary
      1. This school is in Norwalk, Iowa and is accredited only by the International Association of Bible Colleges and Seminaries(IABCS). IABCS is not recognized by any state or governing body. Their last application to the state of Georgia was rejected.
        1. “In 2006, IABCS applied for a name change with the State of Georgia Corporations Division and was informed that, due to USDE regulations, the request could not be approved due to the use of the term “college” in the new name. Even though the registered name is acceptable because of its longevity, a new name utilizing the word “college” could not be done. So IABCS remains actively registered and recognized as the SAABC, the Southern Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges, but will be doing business as IABCS and is currently applying for that status.” (From the website)
  75. Dr. Michael Stoddard
    1. B.S. Theology, Bible Baptist College, 1983
      1. The only school by this name I cold find was in Missouri but it’s hard to tell if it’s the same school.
    2. B.A. Biblical Studies, Southwest Institute
      1. I think this school might actually be called “Southwest School of Bible Studies” and it’s not a school. It’s a church in Austin, Texas.
    3. M.A. “Arts”, Louisiana Baptist University (LBU), 1994
      1. I assume a masters degree in “arts” was a typo.
      2. LBU is a conservative diploma mill filled with teachers who obtained their degrees from other fake schools or from LBU. A few faculty members seemed to have slices of real education here and there.
    4. Honorary Doctorate from Texas Baptist College, 1995
      1. As far as I can tell this school doesn’t exist and it’s website has been hacked and replaced with a tire company’s portal.
  76. Dr. Phil Stringer
    1. B.S.  Bible, Indiana Baptist College, 1975
      1. (not a real school)
    2. M.A. Christian Education, Freedom University (FU/FBCS),1980
      1. Also not a real school and looks like
    3. Ph.D English Bible, Landmark Baptist College (LBC), 1997
      1. Also not a real school and no biblical scholar gets a degree in the “English Bible”. Most reputable seminaries wont let you escape without at least a year of Greek and Hebrew language and exegesis training. A Ph.D in English Bible is a joke.
    4. Ph.D Religious Education, American Bible College (ABC), 2004
      1. Again, not a real college, although I like that they bought an old hotel to use as classrooms. It’s actually a cool idea.
      2. Course materials are literally just badly written commentaries on sections of the Bible, much like Sunday School. (Sample)
  77. Dr. Hope Taylor
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Doctorate Unknown
  78. Dr. Lance Wallnau
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Source)
    3. Research Doctorate, Leadership in Organizational and Cultural Transformation, Phoenix University of Theology
      1. PUT is not a real theology school 
  79. Dr. Margaret Wanjiru
    1. Unknown degree Valor Christian College
      1. Valor is a diploma mill ran by Rod Parsley.
    2. Vineyard Harvester Bible College on July 13, 2003.
    3. B.A. Christian Leadership, United Graduate College and Seminary International, (UGCSI) October 26, 2010
      1. UGCSI is a fake school also.
  80. Dr. Barbara Wentroble
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Doctorate Unknown
  81. Dr. Stephen Whiley
    1. B.A. Broadcast Journalism (University of Oklahoma)
    2. M.A., Ph.D (FICU, Linkedin)
  82. Dr. Randy White
    1. B.A. Unknown
      1. Some credits were done at Lee University but no degree earned
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D, Life Christian University (LCU)
  83. Dr. Paula White
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Ph.D, Theology, Life Christian University (LCU)
  84. Andrew Wommack
    1. B.A. Unknown
    2. M.A. Unknown
    3. Doctorate in Theology, Life Christian University (LCU)

Names soon to come. Need some time to research these guys and some others already on the list.

Dr. Terry Donohue
Dr. James Verceles
Dr. Phil Pitts
Dr. Arthur Houk, Pastor, Arden Faith Baptist Church, Colville, WA
Dr. Billy Kyger, Smoky Hill Baptist Church, Ellsworth, KS
Dr. Bob Gray, Evangelist, Solve Church Problems Ministry
Dr. Bruce Engelman, Baptist Temple, Fort Worth, TX
Dr. Clarence Sexton, Temple Baptist Church, Powell, TN
Dr. Chuck Peters, Pastor, Smith Grove Baptist Church, Colfax, NC
Dr. Daniel Haifley, Maranatha Baptist Church, Mattone, IL
Dr. David Perdue, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Milford, DE
Dr. David N. Smeltz, Amazing Grace Missionaries
Dr. Earl R. Shawley, Pastor, Messiah Baptist Church, Kylertown, PA
Dr. Farrell Shepherd, Pastor, Island Ford Baptist Church, Madisonville, KY
Dr. George Alquist, Jr., Grace of Calvary Baptist Church, Erie, PA
Dr. Jack K. Mayes, Crossroads Baptist Church, Huntington, WV
Dr. Joel M. Ward, Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Butler, PA
Dr. Larry Pierce, Missionary, AFBM, Grace & Truth Baptist Church, Moss Point, MI
Dr. Leon Foote, Evangelist, Canaan Baptist Church, Covington, GA
Dr. Ray Love, Tri-State Baptist Church, Charlestown, WV
Dr. Rodger Howard, Binghamtown Baptist Church, Middlesboro, KY
Dr. Roger Milot, Pastor, Harvest Baptist Church, Hudson, FL
Dr. Steve Harness, Pastor, Wilton Baptist Church, Wilton, NY
Dr. Ted Camp, Silent Word Ministries, Trenton, GA
Dr. Terry L. Dietz, Pastor, Temple Baptist Church, Kannapolis, NC
Dr. Thomas Clement, Liberty Baptist Church, Stafford, VA
Dr. Tom Wallace, Pastor Emeritus, Franklin Road Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, TN
Dr. Tommy C. Turner, Pastor, Bible Baptist Church, Landrum, SC
Dr. Walter Smith, Heritage Baptist Church, Ocala, FL
Dr. William McSpadden, Immanuel Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL
Dr. William Rosinsky, Mission Baptist Church, Thailand
Dr. Elwood Seamster
Dr. Ronnie Simpson
Dr. David Johnston
Dr. Tommy Turner
Dr. Tommy Wensil
Dr. James Keever
Dr. James A Lince
Dr. Randy C. Barton
Dr. Darrin Waldroup
Dr. Lewis O. Bartlett


If I have missed any one, feel free to add them in the comments and we can keep the list current and growing.


43 thoughts on “Canonical List of Pastors & Teachers With Fake Doctorates”

  1. Maria and Tony Costadini Nashville, TN
    Both attended Rhema bible college for fake bachelors and they both hold “Masters” in Theology from Life Christian University. Maria uses her credentials to become the president of Harpeth Montessori in Franklin, TN and has been masquerading herself as an educator.

  2. Add “Prof. (Dr.)” Marc van Rossem to this list. One of Mr. Joyner’s North Carolina alumni, excommunicated from the RC Church in 2014, van Rossem escaped to China where he has careered from one university to the next under the pretences of his fake doctorate. There aught to be a picture of this individual included next to the word “charlatan” in the dictionary.

      • Ahhh Well then Dr. Raul Vidal from CMC / Crown Bible Academy has been falsely stating that he has credentials to be teaching & distributing degrees for Associates & Bachelors in Biblical Studies. There Accreditation states :

        Crown Bible Academy is partnered with Rhema University and is a member of the Florida Council of Private Colleges, Inc., (FCPC) which represents its member independent colleges and universities before any government and/or educational agency.

        The FCPC is an educational association that provides experienced educational quality peer review and on-site visits of the following: faculty, operations, catalogs, brochures, advertisements, application forms, financial information, and student records and transcripts, to FCPC standards which exceed the minimum standards of the State of Florida. For verification of all FCPC standards.
        However, together with Rhema University, Crown is now in the process of attaining it’s National Accreditations.

        But Rhema only has a campus in Florida and Africa….Plus is the FCPC even a real Accreditation if Crown Bible is located In California? Crown did not open until Raul joined his Parents Church CMC in which he used Rhema’s Ambassador Program to get help on how to Market on the Business of having a church provide schooling for profit gaining.

        • As a general rule, Florida has zero regulations for these diploma mills which is why so many are there. The same is true for 3rd world countries. If you see an unaccredited school in Florida and Zimbabwe then something fishy is going on. Also, reputable schools list their professors AND where they obtained their degrees. I always lookup the faculty lists and if it’s full of people who graduated from the same school they teach at or from other junk schools then it’s definitely a scam. If they don’t list their faculty then it’s 100% a scam.

  3. You forgot “Dr.” James R. White of Alpha Omega Ministries who bought his doctorate from the degree mill Columbia Evangelical Seminary. Even one his own publishers wont use the title. He also has a long history of fudging his teaching claims. It took Mormons to expose him:
    Peter Lumpkins exposed his teaching claims:

    The perfect way to evaluate his book The King James Only Controversy is to read it side by side with Richard Muller’s Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics Volume 2. The latter is an actual scholar.

    • You know what, I think I added him to a previous list but I missed him on this list. Thanks for catching the error. At least he’s currently getting an accredited PhD but I’m not overly impressed with most correspondence doctorate programs. Did he ever mention what his doctorate degree was in? Someone like him should continue along the path of Greek/NT studies. A guy like him would become an atheist if he did something like NECL/OT… At least in my opinion.

      • His current “PhD” work is at another degree mill on textual criticism. The school has no program related to the subject nor does it have any faculty who work in the area.

        • I did check out their website and sure enough they do not offer any Phd studies in theology so I am not sure what he is trying to do. The theology department seems to have their own website that does suggest they have doctoral programs which include areas such as the biblical languages. As far as I can tell the school is somewhat weak-sauce but no diploma mill. They are a full accredited institution with over 45k students.

          That being said, one has to wonder how many schools rejected him before he decided he should try getting a distance degree from South Africa….. seems off to me.

  4. The minister of the Gospel is called to be above reproach, which means portraying him/herself in an accurate and honest manner. The HD is problematic because of the proclivity of some to portray themselves (either by doing so themselves or by allowing others to do so) in an inaccurate and sometimes dishonest manner. Only 2-3% of the populace hold an earned doctorate. As such, many do not understand the difference between an earned or HD, either by degree nomenclature or requirements. Consequently, if a minister is referenced as “Dr,” many (if not most) parishioners do not know whether it was earned through years of dedicated study and research or whether the title is simply honorary and not validated by academic experience. There is a reason for investing time/finances, often to the point of assuming substantial indebtedness, to acquire legitimate academic credentials. An academic degree is designed for utility. While the degree itself does not guarantee success, the knowledge and experience obtained in a specific degree program provide the tools necessary to function within a given context.

    There are no doubt very capable ministers who have been awarded the HD. However, to use the title “Dr.” based on the HD alone is misleading because it portrays an inaccurate picture of one’s academic qualifications. Men/women of God should certainly be honored for their service, no one is suggesting otherwise. However, there are myriad ways in which to bestow honor upon a man/woman of God, none of which involve academic nomenclature. Is it not ironic that of all HD recipients (politicians, sports figures, philanthropists, musicians, etc.) only certain members of the clergy use the title “Dr.” in their professional life?

    Let’s talk about four specific aspects of the HD:

    What an HD is not.
    • The HD is not an academic degree.
    • The HD was/is not intended to allow the recipient to use the title “Dr.”
    • The HD is not an earned credential.
    • The HD is not an alternate or nontraditional path to a doctoral degree.
    What an HD is.
    • The HD is an award, an honor, a certificate of appreciation, similar in kind to the award of “Person of the Year,” “Key to the City,” or “Honorary Member of the Police Department.”
    What are the criteria for awarding an HD?
    • According to Education Insider at, “While they’re a nice recognition and probably look good hanging on the wall, honorary degrees are not ‘real’ degrees; in other words, being awarded an honorary degree is not the same as earning an actual doctorate.” Julia Pomerenk, registrar at Washington State University, writes that the HD “doesn’t let [the recipient] do anything, other than have this formal recognition of a high honor.” The HD is an honor bestowed upon the recipient for any number of reasons, including but not limited to the following:
    o Various life accomplishments
    o Stellar performance in a specific area, such as politics, sports, music, etc.
    o Large financial contribution(s) to the awarding institution
    o Name recognition in which the institution seeks to gain credibility by awarding the HD to a well-known person
    o For institutions connected to an organization, the HD is often awarded to administrators in the organization
    How should the HD be understood?
    • Life experiences, accomplishments and contributions are commendable in and of themselves. They stand on their own merit and are worthy of commendation, but they are not an alternate path to a doctoral degree.
    • When used as envisioned the HD does have value, not as an academic credential, but as an award or honor. As such the HD should be listed under Awards/Honors in one’s bio/resume/vita. To list it under Education and use the title Doctor based on the HD alone gives the implication (whether intentionally or not) that it is an earned academic degree. To avoid the possibility of the latter some institutions of higher learning (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, University of Virginia, et al), as a matter of policy, do not award the HD.

    If accomplishments, achievements or contributions to the ministry warrant an HD, there are myriad faithful men/women of God who deserve one. Not only those with name recognition (recognition via a very visible ministry, election/appointment to an administrative position, pastoring a large church, etc.), but every servant of God who has labored faithfully in obscurity for years. Many who have labored faithfully in obscurity, whose names most of us will never know, may indeed receive greater rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ than their well-known counterparts. Persons such as my grandmother who recently passed at age 97, a woman more faithful to God than some ministers I have known.

    A final thought:

    A doctoral degree is not a prerequisite to effectiveness in ministry. Successful ministry is not determined by one’s title. “Thou good and faithful servant” will be the greatest title one could ever obtain. For those who believe God is calling them to graduate school followed by doctoral studies, they should pursue this call with all their might. For those who have never had the opportunity to pursue higher education, and feel no specific call to do so, they should commit to a life of discipline and self-study to be the best they can be for God. Honor, commend and recognize those with stellar service, but do so in a way that doesn’t have academic overtones or nomenclature.

    • Truthful, anointed, and courageous. As a spirit-filled believer with several earned degrees, including the doctorate, I have wrestled with this matter. Some on this list serve the kingdom profoundly and some, incredulously, have no idea there is a distinction between earned academic credentials and honorary degrees or diplima mills.

        • Yes. However, often, in a genuine attempt to “honor” individuals for their ministry gifts, we utilize an academic designation. Therein lies the tension. Institutions such as Jacksonville Theological Seminary plainly state in their student handbook that their curriculum and doctoral degrees are granted to qualify individuals for work in the ministry, not secular academic institutions. Yet, there are recipients of these degrees who do not comprehend the distinction, and how could they if they’ve never enrolled in a secular doctoral program?

          • Yes many institutions don’t do a good job at differentiating. In fact, many don’t do that on purpose. They want to grant honorary degrees to well known individuals so they will have their names connected to that school somehow. It’s like free advertising.

            I’m aware that some institutions actually hand out honorary degrees in good faith but they usually make it known that’s it’s an act of recognition and not equivalent to an earned PhD.

            In summary, any pastor who has an honorary degree should know better and not try to appear more educated than they actually are.

    • Considering their webpage is a collection of badly photoshoped images and broken PHP I am assuming it’s not exactly ran by professionals. The school itself, does not offering anything close to an accredited degree which is why they are based in Kentucky and the faculty are nearly all non-degree holding teachers. Two of the faculty members seem to have some training in Episcopal studies but their bio’s don’t show any formal education or training. Furthermore, the denominational affiliations they are claiming are not recognized by the heads of the denomination. For example, the “Apostolic Communion of Anglican Churches” is not actually in communion of Anglican churches. They are an “independent” branch similar to the Fundamentalist Independent Baptists.

      This school appears to be granting junk degrees for a cheap price. Clearly it’s a diploma mill. I would run far away from this “University”. Nothing you get from this school will transfer to a reputable school and any pastor graduating from this school will not gain employment outside of their isolated independent communion. It will be time and money wasted. You can probably learn more by watching seminary class room teaching on Apple University or Youtube. Most of the major seminaries now have the 100 and some 200 level classes online for people to watch and it’s free.

      You can also visit seminary websites and download the syllabuses to see what reading material is being assigned. This is not as good as taking classes but once again, it’s free and you’ll learn more than going to a diploma mill. I would also recommend learning Hebrew and Greek. Both can be learned from home these days.

  5. I don’t know how you could have missed Charles Stanley. He has real degrees from the University of Richmond and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but his “doctorate” is from Luther Rice.

    • That’s a good one. Luther rice is a much better school than most unaccredited institutions, however, for a great number of years, especially early in, they were the definition of a diploma mill. Certainly the years that Charles was there, it was still a mill.

  6. I came back for another visit because something just occurred to me. Author and readers alike readily denounce the doctoral deception as a ideological and intellectual fraud upon the unsuspecting, but it now occurs to me that perhaps there is an actual fraud angle.

    How exactly do these DINO (Doctors In Name Only) pay their “tuition”? Whether itemized per semester, per course, or per credit, it’s a purchase price, plain and simple, and it would seem that there is little actual study required. It might also be the case that whatever academic credit requirements exist might well be awarded for vocational experience. It is also very possible and plausible that the DINO pay ghostwriters to transcribe piles of sermon tapes for compilation as “independent study” term papers and theses.

    But my de novo analysis goes like this: who pays the tuition and is it paid as if for a personal pursuit or for ministry marketing? If the degree is a purely personal vanity, but the ministry pays the tuition, then that compensation must be reported in the DINO’s individual income taxes. On the other hand, if the degree is merely marketing moxy, then the DINO must not gain from it personally. I see this no differently than, say, a company vehicle provided to an executive. A vehicle is an asset owned by the company which permits the executive to drive it in lieu of compensating said executive for business use of a personal vehicle. The executive cannot double dip by deducting mileage and enjoying a company vehicle. The executive also cannot (lawfully) use that company vehicle in a side hustle (rental, rideshare, etc). The company also cannot purchase a vehicle and then transfer title to the executive nor sell it to the executive for a nominal amount that is not the actual value. To do so would constitute tax evasion on the part of the company or the executive or both. Another thing that a business cannot do is engage in transfer payments through purchases of non-existent assets or grossly inflated raw materials (particularly where the transfer payment is for an illegal purpose or where the transfer payment directly benefits person who authorizes the payment). So I return to the First-Amendment ambivalence which I previously asserted. I suppose a DINO could call him/herself “doctor” just as legitimately as s/he could pronounce her/himself “bishop” and it’s First-Amendment speech and religion. But if the ministry spent money for an asset that does not actually exist or if the ministry paid “tuition” for an employee which is not then reported as income, then how is that not tax evasion (a.k.a. tax fraud) on the part of either or both? And if invoices or payments for a fictitious asset were sent by mail, that’s mail fraud. By fax across state lines? That’s wire fraud. Someone should notify Dateline or 20/20.

    • There are a lot of ways to look at this issue. I think the one that compelled me to get active was that these people are essentially purchasing doctorates for the sole purpose of appearing educated. It’s a power play. Surely “Doctor” pastor will be much more educated and wise than the average pastor, right???
      If the average church goer actually knew what was involved in going to a real seminary and then a real Ph.D program, they would be shocked that any of these televangelists could fake such a thing. The average Ph.D pastor has had 9 years of education AFTER completing their bachelor’s degree. 3 years of seminary and then 5-7 years for a Ph.D. D.Min only 3 years but still can be rigorous.
      But for 2500 dollars you can buy a Doctorate from LCU and skip the pesky studying and research of the process and just have the paper.

  7. Concerning the use of “Dr.” as a title in various professions should be limited to those who have received such from a school recognized by the US Department of Education or a similar foreign educational body, in my opinion. How “doctor” was used previously is irrelevant. It would be helpful to have your list alphabetized also. Most people in the pew have no idea what a bona fide doctorate requires and just assume that those who use the title actually did the required academic work to receive it. If a person will lie about their education, they will lie about anything. Amazingly, some of these ministers actually believe their “degrees* are valid.

    • You make a good point about the pew-sitters not readily comprehending the pretentious title–and that’s the real issue: pretense. For that reason I find myself with some ambivalence as to whether the conduct truly rises to the level of actual lying or whether it properly stands as egregious deception. A more doctrinally disturbing issue is the underlying legalism….that mentality which says “I didn’t lie, I tweaked the language” is the same that says “I didn’t steal, I indulged the discretionary funds.”

  8. Bio –

    Shealds University – can’t find it, no where
    Trinity College and Theological Seminary – several names – can’t find it by this name…one of the Trinity Bible College in San Antonio closed…but there is another one in North Dakota called Trinity Bible College and Graduate School and it does offer a PhD in Practical Theology
    International Bible College and Seminary – only found addresses in Missouri and Florida
    Barrington University – now known as University of Atlanta – it’s a scam college – diploma mill.
    Bastyr University – accredited (recognized by US Dept. of Ed) – offers no doctorate in Health Science but does offer a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine. But only 20 states recognize this degree and practice. Here is an article about:

    President of his two Christian colleges associated with his church Temple of the Radiant Light (TRL): Christian Bible Center Institute & Seminary and Christian Bible Mobile University. Here is the website: You have to contact the church for courses. His website says its accredited, but can’t find on US Dept. of Ed website.

    So how do you have 5 doctorates, but no mention of bachelor’s and master’s degree? On his Facebook it says he attended the University of Free State in South Africa:

    Also, I emailed Westminster Abbey, they said is election and elevation to Sacred Order Of Bishopa is untrue.

  9. I have three people to add to this: 1. Dr. Larry Reid (BA (2009), Doctorate from Zion School of Ministry, a church school that no longer exists (2011), and MA (2012) from Apex College of Theology who are about to lose its accreditation. He is currently attending Hosanna Bible College (pre-accredited). 2. Dr. Bernard E. Jordan, PhD (1990-1998 at Friends International Christian University), BA (2006 at Astrology from Kepler College only accredited in Washington State), MDiv (Virginia Union University which is accredited), and Dr. Holly Carter (MBA in marketing and entertainment from USC Marshall School of Business according to her LinkedIn and Wikipedia page) but USC Marshall says its actually just a graduate certificate. She has a Phd from Southern California School of Ministry associated with First Church of God now known as Center of Hope)…but this it is confusing because there is an accredited Southern California School to Ministry bit it doesn’t give doctorates.)

  10. The biggest scam of all scams is when institutions grant an honorary doctorate when they don’t even have an earned doctorate program in that field XD

    Any school that endorses a televangelist is nearly always a junk school handing out junk degrees.

  11. Here are a few that you missed: Dr. Billy Graham, Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Samuel Johnson… Just look up Honorary Doctorate on Wikipedia, there are plenty of famous people who went by the title “Doctor” but who actually have an honorary doctorate. BTW, not too many years ago only MDs and DDs could be publicly called “Doctor” everyone else, even PhDs, did not have that honor. I’m really interested in hearing your motivation for drawing this line in the sand. Do you think anything will change, in terms of public opinion?

    • I’ll have to check them out. I don’t have a problem with honorary degrees…. Although they are usually for publicity and not real academic accomplishments. What I have a problem with is pastors calling themselves doctor to appear educated when they, in fact, are not. It’s deceptive. When a pastor is introduced as Dr., it’s assumed that it’s an earned doctorate degree.

      A number of televangelists have been called out publicly for being in my previous list and have changed their website descriptions. All I want is for people to be honest to the audience that they are addressing.

    • Much of your asserted position is not factually correct. Academic doctorates (Ph.D. / D.Phil, Psy.D., etc, etc) have always enjoyed the privilege of the honorific. “Doctor” itself derives from the Latin “doctus” meaning “learned” or “wise.” In fact, academic doctorates far predated professional practitioners (that is to say, medieval practitioners of medicine were hardly more than biologists; the modern physician is a relatively recent construct but whose practitioners are unquestionably “learned;” however, since I have long held “doctor” to be an adjective rather than a noun, I personally say things like “my physician….” rather than “my doctor….” whenever possible).

      Given the etymological meaning of the honorific, recipients of honorary doctorates have every *technical* right to use the honorific which is not reserved solely to medicine. Traditionally speaking, though, honorary doctorates were only conferred by doctoral-level institutions of higher learning and as a consequence those institutions appreciated the austerity of the degree and did not hand out honorary degrees (doctorate or otherwise) to those who did not really merit it since to do otherwise would sully the reputation of the institution. Also generally speaking, those institutions took (and still take) creative license with the honorary degree (as is the case with the Doctor of Humane Lettres/Letters) so that honorary degrees would not be confused with earned degrees. Then too, there is the issue of self-respect. Traditionally speaking (again), recipients of honorary doctorates invoked their honorifics with discretion and typically only in relevant or ceremonial situations. In my estimation, those recipients understood the symbolic gesture and did not wish to profane it with casual usage (i.e. casting peals to swine). Similarly, it might be inferred that since even earned degrees can be rescinded if found to be obtained through fraud, dishonesty, or deceit, why would the same not be true of honorary degrees as well? Thus, the recipient (again, in my personal estimation) had every reason to treat the honorific with dignity and respect. That said, the distinction raised by DOTB is that certain evangelists lay illegitimate claim to the honorific–illegitimate by bogus conferral, illegitimate as a purchased commodity, or illegitimate as a misrepresentation of academic study/merit.

      But returning to your original statement of position, I think perhaps you are conflating the use of honorifics in professional versus academic settings. In many parts of the world, professional practitioners are not referred to as “doctor”. The most common example is the Juris Doctor. In the nineteenth century European lawyers (and some American lawyers) did refer to themselves and to others as “doctor.” This, however, has indeed long fallen out of practice. In the UK, practicing physicians typically refer to themselves and to each other as “Mr./Ms.” in clinical settings (where the white lab coat reinforces the obvious). Until the last 20 years or so, professional pharmacists/chemists were R.Ph. (Registered Pharmacist which required board examination then as it still does today), while research pharmacists might have a Ph.D. Now, however, all pharmacy graduates are Pharm.D. but do not use the honorific outside of academic contexts.

      I’m not sure from which part of the world you hail, but you might have caught wind of the controversy surrounding US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Without in any way speaking to the issues, there was some critique about the media’s fickle usage of the honorific in referring to Christine Blasey-Ford. She has an earned doctorate and is a tenured professor. Some congresspeople and some reporters referred to her as “Dr. Blasey-Ford” and others as “Dr. Ford” (completely incorrect for several reasons) while still others chose “Ms. Blasey-Ford” and “Ms. Ford” (also incorrect as that is not her legal name). In response to criticism, NPR stated that its organizationally-selected journalistic style guidelines specified that only medical practitioners be consistently associated or identified with the honorific so as to avoid _confusing_ the public. It indeed seemed rather sexist and political as applied to that factual scenario since, whether Christine Blasey-Ford were confused with a physician or dentist would be immaterial to the substance and credibility of her testimony.

      Tragically (still in my opinion), the honorific has been horribly diluted by chiropractors (D.C.), optometrists (O.D. but not to be confused with ophthalmologists who have an actual M.D.), audiologists (Au.D.), nursing practitioners (D.N.P.), and certain podiatrists (D.P.M. — some of which barely more than a nurse practitioners crossed with a physical therapist while others do surgical residencies and perform traumatic reconstructions and even implant prosthetic ankles). Personally, I have no issues with dentists (D.M.D./D.D.S. — whether or not a surgical residency is completed to become, say, a maxillofacial surgeon) and veterinarians (D.V.M.) using the honorific in professional practice as they too, are “learned” in the sciences. (And I’m not that clear what you meant by “DDs”).

      All this said, I also have no problem attaching the honorific to Billy Graham. One the one hand, I think EVERYONE knew it was honorary. On the other hand, Billy Graham’s lifetime service and devotion evangelization certainly satisfies one or more of the classic criteria for an honorary doctorate. But should Bob Jones or Liberty be handing out honorary doctorates? Hardly! Those institutions have not the first clue what actual research and scholarship look like. Then there are cases like Carl Baugh whose “doctorate” is in higher education (an Ed.D. perhaps? AFAIK, what he states as “doctor of philosophy in education” does not exist; incidentally, his dissertation is titled “Academic Justification for Voluntary Inclusion of Scientific Creation in Public Classroom Curricula, Supported by Evidence that Man and [D]inosaurs [W]ere Contemporary”). Hmmmmm…..I don’t think so. It’s debatable whether he merits the honorific even in academic settings, but regardless of the setting, an education doctorate in absolutely no way qualifies him as a physical anthropologist (a.k.a. archaeologist) nor as a paleontologist. It also does not qualify him to be a museum curator. The degree-granting institution is sketchy in its own right, and his dissertation premise is flatly bogus (humans and dinosaurs never coexisted). His is a classic self-deception that science and reason must be made to bend and conform to fit the literal Bible text. It is classic hubris to think that inferior mortals can adduce the fullness of truth known only to the superior deity.

      • Oh, one other thing that I forgot to mention, is that just because someone is listed on wikipedia as a recipient of an honorary doctorate does not axiomatically mean that the listed recipient does not also possess an earned doctorate, either from another institution, in another field of study, or both. Sometimes honorary doctorates are awarded to esteemed persons delivery a commencement address. Whether quid-pro-quo or not, it enables the institution to indelibly associate itself with that person and vice-versa.

      • John, honorary degrees are not the same as an earned degree and most reputable schools now ask that when listed as Dr., the recipient will indicate it’s an honorary title. Additionally, an honorary degree can easily be rescinded by a vote from the governing body from that school. This happened to both Trump and to Cosby. That is because they are not earned…. they are merely an honor. An earned degree cannot so easily be rescinded. A person must be found guilty of cheating or some other educational foul first. An earned degree cannot be rescinded just because the degree holder is unpopular or it’s discovered they are a criminal.

        I do agree that some honorary degrees can actually be of value and I think Billy Graham is a good example. While he could never go toe-to-toe with a real theology doctorate in a modern seminary, there is no doubt that his contribution to the field of Ministry is invaluable and unique. But there are very few Billy Grahams. For every Bill Graham honorary doctorate there are 100,000 more honorary doctorates from shady institutions being given to even shadier people.

        There are very few occasions today where an earned Ph.D is going to be viewed in the same light as an honorary one, which is why most decent people expect honorary degree holders to be forthcoming about their earned education or lack of.

  12. Goodness! This is insanity, but I find myself struggling with Constitutional free speech issues. On the one hand, the First Amendment does authorize a citizen (or resident) to declare him/herself “Supreme Ruler, Resplendant Pontiff, and Eternal King of Atlantis” if so desired. It’s laughable but still a protected exercise of free speech under the First Amendment. And it is also the First Amendment that enshrines freedom of religion under which televangelists market miracle water from Chernobyl, Ukraine (USSR at time of nuclear meltdown). But the day we abide censorship of *any* religious practice is the day we trod the path to a open-world religion. So purely on Constitutional grounds I begrudgingly have to defend their rights to declare themselves “doctor” if they wish, but as an academic with an actually earned Ph.D., it turns my stomach (perhaos even more so than chiropractors who are skilled practitioners, but hardly “doctors”). And as a Christian, I find an inherent prohibition on deceit and falsehood (not the same things) that is highly evocative of Ananias and Sapphira. With the caveat that honorary doctorates from *accredited* universities with accredited *doctoral* programs do technically entitle the recipient to use the honorific (though 99% of recipients will not), the appearant evangelistic trend is one of pride and vanity where the misstating of education is outright falsehood and the purchasing of meaningless credentials is deceit (if not also pharisaical, vainglorious, self-righteous, and hypocritical). By way of comparison, I believe that Mark Chironna’s doctorate is authentic, but he does not flaunt it for the purpose of asserting his credibility. Christ (paraphrasing) admonished to simply say “yes” and “no” without oaths. In other words, let the authority of one’s speech stand on it’s own merits; there is no need to bolster truth.


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