Evangelical preacher Bryan Loritts has joined Trump endorsing mega pastor Darrell Scott as a prominent alum of diploma mill St. Thomas Christian University. Julie Roys has the story on Lorritts; I wrote about Scott’s honorary doctorate in 2017.
Roys traveled the same road I did in 2017 and found much the same thing. The school isn’t accredited by a state or federally recognized accrediting body and isn’t licensed as a university by the state of Florida. In Florida, religious schools can become exempt from the requirement to be licensed if they file an affidavit with the state that their degrees are only religious in nature. St. Thomas was out of compliance when I researched in 2017 and they remain out of compliance today according to Roys.
I have researched the use of honorary doctorates and the vast majority of schools discourage the use of the title “Dr.” by those who possess only an honorary degree. This is one of the credentialing issues Ravi Zacharias eventually admitted and apologized for.
This is a significant violation of trust and integrity. Loritts should quickly acknowledge this, apologize, and correct any false presentation of his credentials.
Image from Bryan Loritts Twitter page.
Recently, I have been looking into diploma mills and questionable doctorate degrees given to celebrity Christians. One such celebrity is Darrell Scott.
In two weeks, Cleveland pastor and Donald Trump supporter Rev. Scott will be honored by former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown’s charity Amer-i-can for his work in support of Trump’s election. Throughout the presidential campaign, Scott promoted Donald Trump. He served as CEO of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump. Scott was rewarded for his efforts by an appointment to the executive committee of Trump’s transition team.
In his Twitter profile above (and his Facebook page), Scott refers to himself as Dr. Darrell Scott. During the campaign, Trump also referred to Scott as “Dr. Darrell Scott.”
On his church bio, Scott describes himself as
Already a 21st Century Theologian and Scholar in his own right, Dr. Darrell went on to receive his Doctorate of Divinity in November of 2004. His astute wisdom of religious and biblical studies not only qualifies him as a 21st Century Theologian but also serves to further amplify the fact that he is a gifted and anointed teacher and preacher of God’s Word.
Twenty-first century theologian and scholar Scott did get an honorary doctorate in 2004 (since deleted but archived here) from St. Thomas Christian College (now University). However, his bio is worded in a way that creates the impression that he earned the degree. As noted above, Scott uses the title “Dr.” in referring to himself which is inappropriate and misleading since the degree was not earned.
Compounding the problem is the questionable status of the college. St. Thomas Christian University is not accredited by any Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognized accrediting body. The Chancellor of the school Zamekio Jackson told me in a tweet that the school was accredited but declined to tell me the name of the accrediting body. A search of the ED and CHEA websites failed to turn up any proof of accreditation by any federally recognized accrediting body. St. Thomas’ website does not describe any accrediting agency.
St. Thomas is currently unlicensed in the state of Florida. In Florida, religious colleges can be exempted from state licensing if they file a request for exemption (see this post for the process). St. Thomas is not on the list of exempt schools maintained by the state. A representative of the Commission on Independent Education told me this morning that 2014 was the last year St. Thomas had filed for exemption. Chancellor Jackson said the school needs to update their paperwork.
Mr. Scott appears to be using his degree from an unaccredited school to create an impression that he earned a doctorate. He joins other celebrity Christians such as David Barton, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, and and Lance Wallnau who use questionable degrees in a questionable manner.