Mr. Hunt, I Presume

June 12, 2008

The new president of the Southern Baptist Convention has been padding his resume with degrees from diploma mills and uses the title "Dr." even though he has not earned the degree. Both issues are serious ethical problems and set a poor example for other pastors. He should not claim a degree that he bought from an unaccredited school. These diploma mills offer a shortcut for those who want to list a degree on their resume without actually doing the work. He also should not use the title "Dr." based on an honorary doctorate. To use the title is an insult to anyone who has actually earned the degree. It is fine to list honorary doctorates on one's resume, but it should be treated as an honor and not an educational degree and thus it does not provide the title. As the new leader of the SBC, it is time for Mr. Hunt to set a better example. As Robert Parham argues in his Ethics Daily piece that deals with Hunt's false claims:

By identifying himself with the "Dr." title, Hunt legitimizes these diploma mills and encourages by example other ministers to take educational shortcuts--shortcuts which deceive churches about the real quality of the academic training of their clergy.
Amen! Sadly, Hunt is not the only preacher who has this problem. It is time for preachers to quit exaggerating their academic accomplishments. After all, isn't there something in the Bible about telling the truth?

UPDATE [6-17-08]: Robert Parham has another good piece at Ethics Daily following up on this story. In it he notes others who use the title "Dr." without having earned the degree. He also quotes the U.S. Department of Education Web site that explains:
Diploma mills can require little or no work but the result is the same, a degree
that has no value and is meaningless.
Meaningless degrees do not give one the title.