Whistleblowing Moody Radio Host Julie Roys Fired After Disclosures about Moody Bible Institute (UPDATED)

See the end of the post for updates…
Julie Roys, host of the Moody Radio show Up for Debate, was terminated from her radio show yesterday after she alleged the existence of questionable fiscal and employment practices at Moody Bible Institute. Roys’ disclosures include a loan nine years ago from MBI to the school’s president Paul Nyquist for a condo (source). According to Roys, that loan has not been repaid. She also details alleged irregularities with college facilities, gambling by a board trustee, heavy handed tactics with faculty and much more (source, source). According to her post today, in the midst of these revelations, she was fired from her job.
Roys stated:

Then yesterday at noon, I received an email from Greg Thornton, MBI senior vice president of media, informing me that “after consulting with the Executive Committee of the Moody Board, leadership is terminating your employment.” No reason was given and I was informed that my boss, Program Manager Dan Craig would be at my house in two-and-a-half hours to pick up my laptop.

I reached out to Roys and she repeated the quote above which came directly from her email from MBI’s Greg Thornton. A voice mail was left with Moody Radio’s public relations office.
A January 6 article in the Christian Post contained rebuttal from MBI. Brian Regnerus said Roys’ blog post relied on “anonymous and second-hand sources and include past events that have been resolved.” He added that the statements were “incomplete” and “inaccurate.”

Up for Debate

On her Up for Debate program, Roys personally leaned to the right of center, but she often featured two sides of controversial topics. I have been

Julie Roys - From Roys Twitter page.
Julie Roys – From Roys Twitter page.

on the show before and I found her to be fair in moderating the guests and callers. In my view, talk radio is often a waste of time with people shouting over each other with loads of misinformation. However, in my limited experience on her show, it seemed to me that she sought to provide a place for different points of view to be heard. I especially enjoyed the conversation about the Johnson Amendment back in April, 2017.
In any case, I suspect that — as often happens — MBI will find that firing an employee who is asking questions will not make those questions disappear.

Board of Trustees to Meet January 10

UPDATE (1/9/2018) – Earlier this week, MBI president Nyquist sent this email to the “Moody community” which includes at least students…

Dear Moody Community,

You were all made aware last Friday that a number of accusations have been made against Moody’s leadership including members of our executive team, Board of Trustees, staff, and faculty. As we continue to pray and seek resolution to these allegations, we are committed to keeping you informed about this matter and how we are proceeding.

 First, please know that we are deeply grieved and disappointed over these allegations, have taken them very seriously, and are consistently prayerful before the Lord. We’re reviewing each of the issues raised and determining how it was addressed in the past, what we need to do in the present, and lessons learned for the future. And while interest and concern about specific details regarding personnel-related matters has been voiced, we will not violate the privacy of those involved, nor debate these issues through a third-party outlet. That is not helpful to the process, nor is it honoring to the Lord as His children.

 In addition to last week’s meeting of the Board’s Executive Committee where these issues were discussed at length, the full Board of Trustees will deliberate further on Wednesday, January 10. We covet your prayer for that meeting, and when more information is available, we will inform you, our Moody community, first.

 As we press forward, despite the challenges and hard conversations that are taking place at Moody, our executive team and the Board of Trustees are unified in our love for the Lord and this great institution, the pursuit of truth, and seeking reconciliation where possible. With that, we have also come to recognize the need for, and are committed to, improving our culture and climate at Moody through greater transparency, frequent, concise and timely communication.

 Please continue to be in prayer for Moody, our leadership, and each other that we would reflect the unity of one body joined together by Christ as expressed in Ephesians 2.

 Moody has faced and overcome numerous challenges throughout the course of our 132-year history. We must not forget that ceaseless prayers and God’s guidance are how we’ve been effective in ministry for so many years in a rapidly changing world, and that He continues to bless us with the incredible privilege of equipping people in the Word of God.

 Thank you for your commitment to prayer and seeing God glorified through this. We will continue to be in prayer for you as well.

Phoenix University of Theology and the Federal Definition of a Diploma Mill

In December of 2016, I discovered that one of Donald Trump’s evangelical champions Lance Wallnau claimed a doctorate from Phoenix University of Theology. While uncertain at the time, I wondered if the school met the federal definition of a diploma mill. To find out for sure, I wrote the president of the school, Karen Drake, with some questions about their methods. Late last week, Drake replied. Here are her answers:

WT: I am very curious about your educational model. Are all of your credits given through life experience equivalence?
Drake: Many times when a student candidate with 20 or more years in full time ministry applies, we are able to assess the total amount of credit requirements through their lifelong learning experiences.
WT: Do you have faculty and classes that students must take and pass?
Drake: Our Graduates become our Professors, their books, material and teaching are used when students require additional credit hours to fulfill their desired degree program.
WT: If you offer classes, could you kindly point me to a list of programs that students must take in order to receive a degree.
Drake: Each degree program with Phoenix University of Theology International is tailored specifically for the education goals of the student and takes into consideration prior learning and experience; therefore, there are no set class requirements.
WT: Also, when students submit their life experiences, how do you check to make sure they have actually done what they say they’ve done.
Drake: The majority of our students come through referral from Alumnus who have known and worked with them in ministry for many years. Also, Every student candidate is required to submit a number of professional references and contact sources for prior learning and work experiences.

Even though Drake said the references are submitted, she didn’t say anyone at PUT actually follows up on all of them.
Drake also sent along a document which provides more details. You can get a custom tailored doctorate for only $5845. But make sure you want to do it, because you get no refund on the entire degree if you change your mind after 30 days.
PUT Cost for degrees
Now let’s examine the federal definition of a diploma mill:

‘‘(20) DIPLOMA MILL.—The term ‘diploma mill’ means an entity that—
‘‘(A)(i) offers, for a fee, degrees, diplomas, or certificates, that may be used to represent to the general public that the individual possessing such a degree, diploma, or certificate has completed a program of postsecondary education or training; and ‘‘(ii) requires such individual to complete little or no education or coursework to obtain such degree, diploma, or certificate; and
‘‘(B) lacks accreditation by an accrediting agency or association that is recognized as an accrediting agency or association of institutions of higher education (as such term is defined in section 102) by— ‘‘(i) the Secretary pursuant to subpart 2 of part H of title IV; or ‘‘(ii) a Federal agency, State government, or other organization or association that recognizes accrediting agencies or associations.

The criteria in (A) above are met. PUT charges a fee for a degree which is used to represent to the public that the degree is earned via the completion of a program. However, as spelled out in (A)(ii), the student completes little or no coursework and there are no set class requirements.
The criteria in (B) are also met. PUT is not accredited by any organization recognized by the Secretary of Education or any state or federal agency.
It is clear to me that the Phoenix University of Theology meets the federal definition of a diploma mill. Some of the biggest names in contemporary Christendom (e.g., Lance Wallnau, Jerry Boykin, David Barton, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Darrell Scott) brag about doctoral degrees they didn’t earn.
More on Phoenix University of Theology:
Where in the World is Phoenix University of Theology?

Professor Watchlist: Please Pick Me!

Recently, Turning Point, a so-far-to-the-right-you-can’t-see-them-from-here group, created a list of “liberal” (words really have no meaning now) professors who are supposedly a threat to free speech for conservatives on campus.  When I looked on the list I found Matthew Boedy, a guest contributor to my blog.
Matthew’s liberal offense? He doesn’t want guns on the campus of the University of North Georgia.

Dr. Matthew Boedy, a professor at University of North Georgia, believes that universities would be more dangerous if they had students legally carrying firearms. Boedy spoke out against a new bill which allows for concealed carry on campus, claiming that he feared he would be shot by disgruntled students if concealed carry was legal at the university.
Source(s): http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=7361

Sign me up. I’m not a big fan of concealed carry on campus either. The founding board of Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia didn’t like the idea either.
Matthew, how did you make it and I didn’t!?
I was asked about this by a reporter at Grove City College’s student paper, The Collegian. My thoughts last week.
Watchlist Collegian
A “radical agenda?”
Jonathan Zasloff is on the list because he pointed out that the GOP catered to the KKK’s core of angry white men. Well, the KKK and other white supremacist groups endorsed Trump and Trump gave press credentials to white supremacist James Edwards.
To be sure, some are far left (e.g., Mark Tushnet), but some are moderate or even lean right. They just happened to get on Turning Point’s bad side.
I see two major audiences for this nonsense. One is prospective students and their parents. I do think it is important to warn prospective students that even conservative academics reject this stigmatization of free speech and academic freedom. Another group is administrators of conservative colleges who might use this somehow in hiring and firing. Such a use would be a tragedy and I hope academics of all stripes would come together in opposition.

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.

The King's University Will Now Accept Credits from Charis Bible College

The King’s University is a ministry training school founded by preacher Jack Hayford and later moved to Southlake, TX to be housed at Robert Morris’ Gateway Church. In May, I reported that TKU was losing students and considering the closure of several branch campuses around the country.  Nonetheless, Morris and the school leadership continue to promote the school.
TKU is not regionally accredited but rather boasts accreditation by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. Although credits from TKU may not transfer to regionally accredited schools (e.g., University of Texas, Grove City College), they are accepted by other TRACS accredited schools.
Charis Bible College is an unaccredited school also set up to train ministers. However, recently David Barton has been instrumental in helping to start a School of Government at Charis. Thus, Charis is setting sights on training people to go into politics.
A part of that vision is a recent articulation agreement between TKU and CBC for the transfer of credits from CBC to TKU. This means that a student can take courses at unaccredited Charis and transfer them to accredited TKU. This agreement with Charis greatly enhances the value of the Charis credits.
To me, this seems like an end around accreditation for Charis Bible College. The leaders of that school have even less incentive to become accredited because their students can simply transfer them to TKU where they will become a part of an accredited degree program. From there, a student could transfer credits to another TRACS school.
I asked TRACS about their rules concerning transfer of credits. While no one has answered as yet, I did find these criteria to help guide credit transfer arrangements.

The institution’s transfer of credit policy governs both the consideration and acceptance of transfer credit and: a. It is fair, equitable, and equally applied. b. Considers the quality of the offering, timeliness of the work, student performance (grade requirements) and the comparability, equivalency, and appropriateness to the courses and programs offered. c. Considers the accredited status of the institution as a major factor, but not the sole determinate of the transfer decision. d. Informs students of any special situations they may face in transferring credits earned. e. Includes reasons for refusal of acceptance of transfer credits, including the appeal process for transfer credit which was refused. f. Includes information on student responsibilities. g. Provides students with accurate and realistic information, plus guidance concerning the likelihood of transfer of the institution’s credits. h. References any articulation agreements with other institutions. i. Includes counseling and print or electronic assistance for students considering transferring to another institution. j. States the minimum grade required for transfer courses. k. Requires official transcripts from all institutions attended and does not award transfer credits before receiving the relevant official transcript(s). l. Identifies the office(s) responsible for evaluating transfer credit. (emphasis added)

Note letter b and c. Letter b requires the quality of course to be comparable between schools. TRACS guidelines require those teaching BA students to have a masters degree. Very few of Charis faculty have masters degrees. David Barton claims to have an earned doctorate but on examination, it appears that his doctorate is from diploma mill, Life Christian University. Charis’ agreement with TKU all of a sudden makes Barton’s use of a degree based solely on life experience even more relevant.
Letter c requires TKU to consider the accredited status of the sending school. Charis is not accredited by any agency. Although other considerations may be taken into account, accreditation status is supposed to a “major factor.”
The announcement contained this statement:

Students that graduate with a Charis Biblical Studies Degree will have the opportunity to earn an accredited degree by The King’s University.

While technically true because TKU is accredited by TRACS, it is still misleading if it is not explained that TRACS is not considered comparable to regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is what opens up wide spread transfer of credits from school to school. Texas schools are evaluated by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
In practice, this often limits opportunities for students. For instance, a TKU student with a degree in Christian counseling may find that graduate schools will not accept it as a non-regionally accredited degree. When TKU and Charis promotional materials declare TKU accredited, I fear that some students will misunderstand and make future decisions on inadequate information.