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Friday, 11 April 2014

Liberty University Clarifies 'Partnership' With Benny Hinn Amid Evangelist's Promotion of Bible Institute: Benny Hinn Ministries removes Web ads tied to Liberty University


Liberty University Clarifies 'Partnership' With Benny Hinn Amid Evangelist's Promotion of Bible Institute

Jerry Falwell-Founded School Issues Strong Statement Regarding Legal Use of Its Certificate Program

By Nicola Menzie , Christian Post Reporter
 
April 5, 2014|5:07 pm
Evangelist Benny Hinn (Photo: YouTube/The Christian Post)
Evangelist Benny Hinn discusses on his "This Is Your Day" television program the Institute of Biblical Studies from Liberty University, with guests Dan Reber and Ronald Godwin, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost for the university.

"Liberty University is not partnering with Benny Hinn." So reads a statement from the conservative Christian school founded by Jerry Falwell after Hinn, a controversial charismatic televangelist, featured a Liberty University administrator on a recent broadcast promoting his new partnership with a Bible institute owned by the university.

"Liberty transferred the operations of Liberty Home Bible Institute, a non-accredited biblical studies certificate program, to Mr. Dan Reber in 2011," continues the Southern Baptist-affiliated school's statement shared via email with The Christian Post on Friday.

The statement, attributed to David Corry, general counsel at Liberty University, goes on to explain:
"Mr. Reber, was granted certain licensing rights to use Liberty's name because the Liberty name was deeply imbedded [sic] in LHBI course materials. Earlier, in 2009, Liberty engaged a company of Reber's, Internet Marketing and Communications, LLC, to market Liberty Home Bible Institute and the Institute of Biblical Studies, another non-accredited biblical studies certificate program. Liberty University has maintained ownership of both programs.

"It is our understanding that Dan Reber or his company is working with Benny Hinn but Liberty University is not aware of the extent of the relationship or the terms. A review of the relevant contracts demonstrates that any such cooperative venture, branding initiative or partnership with Benny Hinn regarding these Liberty University properties violates the terms of its agreements with Mr. Reber and Internet Marketing and Communications, LLC. Liberty University has placed them on notice of this breach and is taking steps to stop the unauthorized use of its intellectual properties and trademarks."

Liberty University, the nation's largest private nonprofit university, sought to clarify its relationship with Hinn after the popular evangelist recently announced a partnership with "Liberty University Institute of Biblical Studies in Lynchburg, Virginia" online and via his television program.

Corry emphasized in its response to CP's inquiry that it maintains ownership of both the Institute of Biblical Studies and the Liberty Home Bible Institute, and that it was courses from the Institute of Biblical Studies that Hinn was promoting.

"Whether you're a pastor, lay leader, or in full-time ministry, your membership with World Healing Fellowship will allow you to take a biblical program of study through Liberty University Institute of Biblical Studies that will equip you with rock-solid teaching and a Bible-centered curriculum that is without equal," reads the announcement on BennyHinn.org. "Upon completion of this course you will receive a diploma from Liberty University, qualify to enroll in advanced Liberty University Institute of Biblical Studies courses, and become eligible to obtain college credit from Liberty University!"

The announcement was accompanied by a video of Hinn discussing the partnership and program with Reber, identified as the "director" of the Institute of Biblical Studies in the video, and as a "longtime donor to Liberty University," according to Corry. Dr. Ronald Godwin, senior vice president for academic affairs/provost at Liberty University, was also on the program.

An 11-minute video excerpt from Hinn's "This is Your Day" television program, broadcast around the world and nationally on TBN, God TV and Daystar, and other networks, features Dr. Godwin, who lauded the university's growth and its program expansions.

Asked by Hinn to "explain the connection between the university and the institute," Godwin said that the later is Reber's organization. "But the content that is produced and published by that institute is recognized by Liberty University, because it is of the highest quality."

Hinn went on to ask, "Is the institute like a branch of the university, or totally separate?"
Godwin stated that institute was a "separate entity," and added that "it is recognized and endorsed by Liberty University."

Corry informed CP that: "Dr. Ron Godwin was mistaken when he stated on television that Liberty's Institute of Biblical Studies was operated by Mr. Reber. It is owned and operated by Liberty University on Liberty's campus. By contract, the Liberty Home Bible Institute, a program not mentioned on Hinn's program, has been operated by Mr. Reber at a location outside the campus of Liberty University, within the County of Bedford, Virginia, since August of 2011."

In regards to Godwin's appearance on Hinn's program with Reber, Liberty U.'s Corry insisted the provost had been "misinformed."

"It is true that a senior administrator of Liberty University appeared on a Benny Hinn program where a certificate program was promoted, but no other Liberty officials had prior notice of the planned broadcast," reads the statement. "The administrator appeared after he was misinformed regarding the extent of Mr. Reber's contract rights. Again, Liberty University is not involved in any cooperative venture with Benny Hinn."

CP was unable to contact Reber for comment via Mail America Communications, Inc., of which he is listed as founder.

Watch the video excert of "This Is You Day" featuring Hinn, Reber and Godwin in the player below:
YouTube
Benny Hinn on "Liberty University Institute of Biblical Studies"
 
Liberty University was founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College, and has since become the largest Evangelical Christian university in the world. The university, currently led by Jerry Falwell, Jr., boasts about 12,600 undergrads and 90,000 online students. The school is also known for organizing an impressive list of who's who of individuals from religious, political and entertainment spheres for its Convocation every semester.
Hinn, known for his global crusades, has been criticized by other Christians for his claims to miraculously heal people of various ailments through empowerment by God, as well for teaching that God's blessings or favor are dependent on financial giving. Various news investigations over the years have cast doubt on Hinn's "miracle healings." The 61-year-old evangelist is in his 40th year of ministry.

Questions from The Christian Post sent via email with responses provided by Mr. David Corry, general counsel at Liberty University, follow below:
CP: What is Liberty University's relationship with Mr. Dan Reber?

Corry: Dan Reber is a longtime donor to Liberty University. Personally and through his companies, he has provided various services to Liberty University over the years, especially in the area of direct marketing.

CP: What is Liberty University's relationship with Mr. Reber's Liberty Bible Institute?
Corry: We are not aware of Mr. Reber having a Liberty Bible Institute. One of his companies markets courses for Liberty University's Liberty Home Bible Institute and our Institute of Biblical Studies, two non-accredited biblical studies certificate programs offered by Liberty University's Center for Professional and Continuing Education. In 2011, Mr. Reber took on additional responsibilities to operate the Liberty Home Bible Institute on behalf of Liberty University but was not authorized to make changes in the program without the consent of Liberty University. Please note that courses from the Institute of Biblical Studies, not Liberty Home Bible Institute, were being promoted on Benny Hinn's program.

CP: Does Mr. Reber's Institute operate from Liberty University's campus or other property?
Corry: Dr. Ron Godwin was mistaken when he stated on television that Liberty's Institute of Biblical Studies was operated by Mr. Reber. It is owned and operated by Liberty University on Liberty's campus. By contract, the Liberty Home Bible Institute, a program not mentioned on Hinn's program, has been operated by Mr. Reber at a location outside the campus of Liberty University, within the County of Bedford, Virginia, since August of 2011.

CP: Does Liberty University provide any resources to Mr. Reber's Institute?
Corry: Yes, Liberty provides resources to Mr. Reber in connection with his operation of the LHBI (again, the program not mentioned in the Hinn video). Examples include the rights to reproduce program materials, computerized scoring equipment, presence on Liberty University's website, letterhead, email redirection, telephone redirection, completion certificates and certain other benefits to graduates of the program.

Benny Hinn Ministries removes Web ads tied to Liberty University

Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 10:19 pm
 
Numerous references to a supposed partnership between Benny Hinn Ministries and Liberty University have been removed from the Benny Hinn Ministries website.

After being alerted that the evangelist was claiming to have a partnership with LU, school officials issued Benny Hinn Ministries a cease-and-desist order April 4 citing its unauthorized use of the university’s trademark and intellectual property.

The falsely-advertised partnership would have allowed students of the World Healing Fellowship & Liberty University Institute of Biblical Studies to receive a diploma from the Lynchburg-based university founded by the late Jerry Falwell Sr. in 1971. Liberty regularly polices its trademark.

Benny Hinn Ministries has taken steps consistent with the demands of the university, but Liberty University General Counsel David Corry said officials continue to discuss how to resolve the dispute. The university will take steps to have the video “Liberty University Promotes 'Faith Healer' Benny Hinn” removed from YouTube. On Wednesday, Corry said the university was unaware of the video but they would pursue removal “because it has false information in it. It’s inaccurate.”

On the video, originally part of a Benny Hinn Ministries television broadcast, Hinn appears with Ron Godwin, Liberty University provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, and Dan Reber, a Forest businessman.

Reber was in charge of operations of the Liberty Home Bible Institute, a non-accredited biblical studies certificate program, by Liberty University in 2011. Corry refers to Reber as “a longtime donor to Liberty University” and one who has “provided various services to Liberty University over the years, especially in the area of direct marketing.” Reber, founder of Mail America Communications Inc. in Forest, does the marketing for the courses offered by Liberty University’s Liberty Home Bible Institute, and the Institute of Biblical Studies.

The two non-accredited biblical studies certificate programs are offered by Liberty University’s Center for Professional and Continuing Education.

Although LU put Reber in charge of operating the Liberty Home Bible Institute — on behalf of the university — in 2011, he was not given authority change the program without LU’s consent, according to university officials.

“It is our understanding that Liberty Home Bible Institute’s new operators are working with Benny Hinn but LHBI is no longer operated by Liberty University,” the university said in a statement.

“Mr. Reber was granted certain licensing rights to use Liberty’s name because the Liberty name was deeply imbedded in LHBI course materials” but a review of contracts shows the new branding is a violation of the agreement, the university said in the release.

Reber did not respond to numerous calls seeking comment.
The confusion was compounded by the appearance of Godwin on the television broadcast with Benny Hinn and Reber. A video of the broadcast still was available on YouTube as of Wednesday evening. It disappeared from Hinn’s website at some point Wednesday. Hinn didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Corry acknowledged Godwin’s appearance on the video, but said prior to taping Godwin had been “misinformed regarding the extent of Mr. Reber’s contract rights” and he was “mistaken when he stated on television that Liberty’s Institute of Biblical Studies was operated by Mr. Reber.”

Corry said the Liberty Institute of Biblical Studies is owned and operated by Liberty University on Liberty’s campus.

The Liberty Home Bible Institute has been operated by Reber at a location outside the LU campus since August 2011.

Corry said the video in which Godwin appears was taped in California. Godwin went to the taping at the invitation of Reber, a close personal friend, and did not make the trip on a university plane.
Corry said no other Liberty officials had knowledge of the broadcast.

“Again, Liberty University is not involved in any cooperative venture with Benny Hinn,” Corry said in a news release.

Although there have been reports LU desired a partnership, then disavowed it after receiving complaints, Corry said “that is false.”

“This whole thing came as a complete surprise to everyone at Liberty University, except for Ron Godwin.”