The following article was previously hosted at idaholeadershipacademy.org:
Or How to Use Phony Degrees, Shoddy Scholarship, Worldwide Conspiracy Theories, and Obfuscation to Become a Popular LDS Educational Speaker and Break into the Christian Homeschool Market
By Richard Stout
[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Because the story DeMille tells changes with such regularity, I have attached addenda to document those changes made since this article was completed in 2006. RBS]
"I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound? . . ." Buffalo Springfield
"During the coming year the secret combinations and the governments they control will do a number of things to build a Satanic New World Order. President Bush and many Congressmen, who are controlled by the secret societies, will attempt to further this cause and to continue the curtailment of Freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution." Oliver Van DeMilleIn 2001, a board member of a statewide Christian homeschool organization contacted me about a Dr. Oliver Van DeMille, founder/president of George Wythe College (GWC) of Cedar City, Utah and author of the then sixty-five-page Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a New Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century. She had been approached by a DeMille representative not long after receiving a speaker packet and the advance “manuscript” copy of his book in the mail. He’d hoped to convince her to invite DeMille as a speaker to her group’s annual homeschool conference. But the caller seemed evasive in some of his answers regarding DeMille and his school, so she asked me to check DeMille out. (Why she asked me in particular would require another article entirely by way of explanation.)
The first question my friend wanted answered was “Is DeMille Mormon?” His representative had ducked the question by pointing out that George Wythe was a non-denominational “Christian” college, a branch of Coral Ridge Baptist University of Jacksonville, Florida. That one was easy. DeMille came up online as a “Traveling Speaker” for the LDS Education Forum. The director of the forum, Steven Adams, had “studied education” at DeMille’s George Wythe College—one big happy family.
How LDS is DeMille? Just a couple of years later at an LDS homeschool conference he made this shocking and definitive statement about classical education (shocking if you’re a non-LDS who’s been lulled into buying DeMille’s other educational notions):
No classic is more important than the Book of Mormon, yet is [sic] has never been used as a central curriculum like the Old Testament, New Testament and the Koran. Not only does the Book of Mormon contain all the necessary fields of study, at levels from Kindergarten to Doctoral studies, it also provides its own specific guidelines for how and what to study—both for religious and secular education. In short, it is the classic of classics, and it’s about time to start utilizing it as such.I’m not sure why this statement wouldn’t send even the most ardent Mormon fan of DeMille’s running. Is the calculus really to be found in the Book of Mormon? What about nuclear chemistry? I know the word “adieu” appears there, but is a doctorate’s worth of French literature hiding somewhere in those pages, too? And what about geography? Mormon scholars can’t even agree on where the cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon were located!
My web search also revealed that DeMille founded George Wythe College in September 1992 and designated GWC “the leading college in the United States dedicated specifically to building statesman using the methods which trained great entrepreneurs and leaders from Washington to Jefferson, Lincoln to Churchill, and Gandhi to Martin Luther King.” Quite impressive sounding until you realize that GWC is the ONLY college in the United States claiming to be “dedicated specifically to building statesman using the methods which trained great entrepreneurs and leaders from Washington to Jefferson, Lincoln to Churchill, and Gandhi to Martin Luther King.” It’s not particularly difficult to be the “leading college” in a field of one. That bit of self-aggrandizement had the whiff of the cow pasture to it, so I decided I’d accept the “assignment.”
DeMille’s biographical information, published on his college’s website, claimed he’d earned “his bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Aerospace Studies at Brigham Young University, a Master’s in Political Science and a Ph.D. in Education from Coral Ridge Baptist University of Jacksonville, Florida.” The site also stated that “He earned a Juris Doctor and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law [sic] for his legal and political writings.” Again, impressive at first glance, but what I subsequently learned was quite the opposite. And after my findings became disseminated in LDS circles, they seem to have inspired a bizarre apologia on the part of George Wythe College.
The first thing that struck me as odd was DeMille’s bachelor’s degree. How does one combine both International Relations and Aerospace Studies in one degree? I even gave DeMille the momentary benefit of the doubt, thinking it might actually be two degrees, a double major. That moment ended when I called BYU’s Records Office and learned that DeMille had NOT earned a “bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Aerospace Studies.” As a matter of fact, the woman who answered the phone exclaimed, “He can’t say that! Aerospace Studies was his minor!” She went on to say that DeMille had graduated from BYU in August of 1994. That’s almost two years after he’d founded George Wythe College! More of that fertilizer smell.
DeMille’s non-accredited Florida graduate school, Coral Ridge Baptist University (no connection to Dr. D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries) came next. I soon discovered that the degrees DeMille continues to claim from Coral Ridge are actually illegal according to Florida law. The degrees offered by such exempt religious institutions as Coral Ridge must, by law, have a religious qualifier in each degree line—for example, B.A. in Islamic History, M.A. in Christian Ministry, Ph.D. in Hebrew Studies. Did DeMille actually earn an M.A. in Baptist Political Science? or a Ph.D. in Christian Education? The first seems a plain silly idea as political science is “concerned chiefly with the description and analysis of political and especially governmental institutions and processes,” not religious institutions or processes. The latter is unlikely as DeMille nearly always appends the following to his “Ph.D. in Education”: “with an emphasis in the Education of the American Founding Fathers.”
Truth be told, in the state of Florida, any local church, mosque, synagogue, or even voodoo temple can register a school with the state and receive exempt religious status. Coral Ridge used the expression “sanctioned by the State of Florida.” While that sounds very official, all it really means is that an independent Baptist church like Coral Ridge can send a letter of intent to the Florida Department of Education and start handing out non-accredited bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees with no academic oversight whatsoever.
To confirm that religious modifiers were required by law in the early nineties when DeMille received correspondence degrees from Coral Ridge, I called Florida’s Department of Education. More recently, I double-checked with Samuel L. Ferguson, Executive Director of the Commission for Independent Education (of the Florida D.O.E.). He responded by email on 10/11/2005: “Religious modifiers have always been required.” So the degrees DeMille claims to have received from Coral Ridge are not “sanctioned by the State of Florida,” but actually violate the state’s law.
Upon checking Coral Ridge’s “Faculty and Adjunct Faculty Page” I found this odd entry under Oliver DeMille:
B.A. George Wythe College, M.A. Coral Ridge Baptist University; Ph.D. Coral Ridge Baptist University. Oliver DeMille is an accomplished writer, having written numerous college textbooks and diverse publications. An expert in the area of political sciences, law and American history, Oliver DeMille is one of the most sought after young speakers on the American scene today. Mentored by several of the most respected political leaders in the United States, he also serves as President of George Wythe College. Dr. Oliver DeMille has been cited for numerous personal awards, including "Who’s Who in America."Where was DeMille’s bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University? What had happened to his Juris Doctor degree? Until recently, I assumed—since he didn’t receive his B.A. from BYU until two years after founding George Wythe—that DeMille had written this bio. very early on and conferred his George Wythe B.A. upon himself so that it would appear he had followed a traditional degree path. (It should be noted that until recent admissions DeMille always listed his B.A. from BYU out of chronological order, giving the appearance that he’d earned a B.A. before getting his M.A.—which was not the case.) This giving oneself a degree also seemed consistent with what appeared established Coral Ridge “tradition.” Jeff Burnsed, president of Coral Ridge, listed a Ph.D. from Coral Ridge in his own faculty bio.
But it was only recently that the likely answer dawned on me: Coral Ridge Baptist University did not want an adjunct faculty member listing a degree from a well-known Mormon university! After all, Coral Ridge specifically stated that Mormonism is a cult. Their Ph.D. level course, “World Religions & Cults,” gave this assignment: “Research six of the modern cults (example: Mormonism) and discuss what their beliefs are.” So, it would appear, the powers that be at Coral Ridge fudged DeMille’s B.A. to avoid controversy—unless DeMille actually gave himself a degree from his own school to avoid controversy but never included his B.A. from George Wythe College among his “four earned academic degrees.” Either way you look at it, it’s unsavory and un-academic, to say the least.
Before we move on to the missing Juris Doctor degree (and then return to the academically-challenged Coral Ridge), it should be noted that I called Who’s Who in America in 2001 after failing to find an entry for Oliver DeMille in their publication. After checking their records, they claimed to have never heard of him.
I also failed to locate any of the “numerous college textbooks” or “diverse articles” written by DeMille, except for articles published online by his George Wythe College—typically transcripts of DeMille’s speeches. More recently, I discovered a number of, shall we say, eccentric, self-published, conspiracy-theory pamphlets DeMille produced in the early nineties.
One of the things that I noticed about DeMille’s “earned” Juris Doctor degree was that, unlike his BYU and Coral Ridge degrees, the school’s name was not disclosed on GWC’s web site. Neither was it mentioned who gave him “an honorary Doctor of Law [sic] for his so-called legal and political writings” (I also failed to find any of his legal and political writings in peer-reviewed publications. A couple of titles mentioned on GWC’s site did not cite the names of any publications, nor could a web search turn up anything about the titles). I had my daughter, a law student at the time, email GWC asking for the name of DeMille’s law school. Shanon Brooks, currently the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of George Wythe College and the author of its “definitive history,” eventually emailed back that “President did receive a J.D. for [sic] LaSalle University in Louisiana back in 91 or 92.” Since it took several emails and many weeks to elicit this information, it seems strange that Brooks could not find out the exact year before answering. Certainly, a quick call from Brooks to DeMille should have settled the question—I have no trouble recalling the year my daughter graduated from law school.
I suspect the reason DeMille probably couldn’t remember exactly when he received his Juris Doctor is because it was a quickie degree from one of the more notorious diploma mills in recent memory (while it had thousands of students, LaSalle had a staff of less than ten ). That would also explain why his J.D. and law school were excluded from his Coral Ridge bio. In testimony before the U.S. House of representatives Banking Committee, Mary Lee Warren, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice described LaSalle of Louisiana as “nothing more than a sophisticated diploma mill.” David M. Bresbahn reported in his June 25, 1999 online article for WorldNetDaily, “Government Inundated with Phony Degrees,” that:
La Salle University and Columbia State University [both of Louisiana] are well-known diploma mills. Anyone, for a fee, can obtain any degree their heart desires. The degrees are supposedly awarded based on life experience and correspondence work.“Supposedly” being the operative word, for as Paul Sperry later noted in his article, “Cut-Rate Diplomas”:
. . . an Air Force lieutenant colonel who attended no classes and took no tests [received] a promotion-enabling master’s degree from LaSalle University, a diploma mill affiliated with Kent College and also based in Mandeville.LaSalle University of Mandeville, Louisiana went into operation in 1992. Since DeMille received his so-called “earned,” non-accredited, Juris Doctor degree from LaSalle in “91 or 92,” it had to be 1992—the same year LaSalle opened! Typically, an accredited Juris Doctor requires three years of rigorous training. Even Thomas Jefferson studied law under George Wythe for three years before taking the Virginia bar. But with speedy diploma-mill Juris Doctor in hand, DeMille became the James Madison Professor of Law and Politics at George Wythe College and teaches courses leading to a non-accredited Ph.D. in Constitutional Law, “The Jefferson Degree,” that qualifies graduates for absolutely nothing in the legal profession—exactly what Oliver DeMille’s law degree qualifies him for.
But the founder of DeMille’s alma mater, James Kirk (AKA Thomas McPherson) wound up needing real lawyers with accredited law degrees. Despite the fact that Louisiana law makes the state a haven for diploma mills, the FBI arrested Kirk on fraud charges related to LaSalle, and he was later sentenced to five years in prison. The “university” limped on without him, but eventually closed its doors.
DeMille shouldn’t have been some wet-behind-the-ears kid in 1992—after all, that’s the same year he founded George Wythe College. Not only that, but well before choosing LaSalle, DeMille claims he “had spent several months researching law schools.” It makes one wonder how he was so easily fooled. Didn’t he find it curious that at other law schools he’d checked out it usually took three years to graduate? And what kind of advice were these mentors offering? Didn’t one of these men—who, according to DeMille’s bio., were “several of the most respected political leaders in the United States”—think to warn him about quickie degrees?
For that matter, you’d think they’d have warned him about Coral Ridge Baptist University. I have literally laughed out loud on a number of occasions reading course descriptions from the 2001 online catalog of this non-accredited “university” where Oliver Van DeMille sought a world-class education rather than finish his nearly-completed, accredited BYU degree first. The Coral Ridge catalog descriptions are unintentionally hilarious at times in their misuse of words, garbling of grammar, and bungling of facts, but ultimately these examples are more sad than anything else.
To earn a Ph.D. in Christian History, for example, a student needed to take the course “U.S. History from 1776 to 1877” where:
The studies presented are intended for the learner to be challenged to produce adequate research, and will motivate the student to learn those invaluable principles which made America the “greatest nation on the face of the earth.”One would think that Ph.D. candidates should already have mastered the ability to do “adequate research.” If not, how did they get there in the first place? The fact that a course would have as a goal such low expectations speaks volumes. But, given some of the more laughable aspects of the school’s catalog, “adequate” might have been a lofty goal for the likes of Coral Ridge Baptist University.
The Ph. D. in Biblical Missions provided an ironic titter. While the “World Religions and Cults” syllabus cautioned that “Content and grammar [of term papers] should meet the highest academic standard,” its own course description contained this sentence: “The learner will produce documentation/research on an agreed upon religion, and will become familiar with that system, to the point of being able to witness to a member respectively and scripturally.” “Respectively” means “in the order given.” Of course, the writer meant “respectfully.” This is a common error among people who cannot “meet the highest academic standard.”
The most torturous sentence had to be the following from “Hispanic Churches and Missions”: “More people than any other singular language in the world use the Spanish language worldwide.” Ouch! Obviously “More people” cannot be a “singular language”—besides, the writer meant “single” not “singular”—and “in the world” and “worldwide” are painfully redundant. What the writer intended to say was “More people worldwide use Spanish than any other single language.” But besides showing a very tenuous grasp of English, the writer’s premise is dead wrong, as well. Mandarin is considered a “single language” and “there are more than 850 million speakers of Mandarin worldwide, making it easily the most spoken language on earth.”
The next sentence begins with this doozy: “Spanish food, culture and heritage is one of the most intriguing anywhere on the planet. . . .” Unless we’re talking about the Holy Trinity, I don’t think three things can be “one”—a little subject/verb disagreement from this doctorate level course! The sentence should have begun, “Spanish food, culture, and heritage are among the most intriguing . . .”
On the Veterans [sic] Worship Center web site, Coral Ridge’s 2001 ad read:
Coral Ridge Baptist University The university is sanctioned by the State of Florida, and have extended campuses in America & in four foreign countries. The university, like universities; such as, Harvard, Yale, and numerous other institutions of higher learning, are pleased to offer these degrees online (distant learning).Although they get the first verb correct, the second, “have,” does not agree with “university.” They get it wrong again with “The university . . . are” in the second sentence, and some of the punctuation there is just plain inexplicable. While some classes may be offered online by Harvard and Yale (usually for students studying for a semester or two abroad), online degrees are not—and how odious that Coral Ridge would compare itself to such venerable institutions where many of our Founding Fathers actually attended. And the accepted term is “distance learning,” not “distant learning.”
While these examples should be enough to prove that the academic standards at Coral Ridge Baptist University could not have been particularly high—let alone the “world-class” education DeMille supposedly determined to find—I would be remiss in not pointing out that in two Doctor of Ministry course descriptions “compliment” is used when “complement” is meant. That’s another one of those common mistakes made by people who cannot “meet the highest academic standard.”
To put this into perspective using a mentoring analogy, imagine if a general contractor told you he’d apprenticed under a world-class carpenter, that this carpenter had expected higher quality work than this g.c. had experienced anywhere. He tells you how he worked his fingers to the bone because his carpentry mentor was a perfectionist and only accepted the best. Then you go to a house that this world-class carpenter built and find that the front door sticks and the windows are set at odd angles. Inside, the steps of the stairway are of varying heights, none of the rooms are square, and the end cuts of the pieces of molding that should fit together tightly in the corners have their gaps sloppily filled with caulk. Would you trust that this carpenter’s former apprentice knows what he’s doing? Or would you assume he’s all talk?
To jump ahead of the story a bit, but to fill out DeMille’s curriculum vitae claims, last year I emailed GWC to ask who had bestowed the honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree on DeMille. Shanon Brooks emailed on 9/20/05:
President DeMille was awarded his honorary LLD from Coral Ridge Baptist University, in Jacksonville, Florida. It had to have been between 1992 and 1995. As it is an honorary degree, it carries no academic weight and is typically not listed in any biographical use. It being listed in his bio on the website was an oversight, which is being corrected.So the Florida religious school DeMille was in business with at the time gave him an honorary LL.D., possibly in 1992—the very same year he received his diploma mill J.D.! Just as with DeMille’s so-called Juris Doctor, nobody at George Wythe College seems exactly sure when he received this honorary doctor of laws. I wanted to write back that none of DeMille’s degrees carry any academic weight except his B.A. from BYU, but at least, I thought, GWC was cleaning up its act—at least a little—by correcting the “oversight” of including DeMille’s LL. D. But as I would learn, there were reasons for that clean up that—the facts strongly indicate—were unrelated to any honorable intentions.
With the exception of details about DeMille’s honorary LL.D., I sent most of the information above to the Christian homeschool leader who’d gotten the ball rolling and to the Florida Department of Education. I also contacted any online sources promoting DeMille, his college, or his book, and gave them a rundown of DeMille’s actual academic history. Apparently, this kept the ball rolling. The first surprise I had was that Coral Ridge’s online presence disappeared some time in late 2001/early 2002—very odd for a school offering online degrees. Then in 2005, I came across the following surprise from “Sarah” on an LDS chat page:
I'm a member of a yahoogroup called Classical-LDS-hs. There's a big discussion going on there now about the legitimacy of Oliver DeMille's credentials. There are two files about it in the Files section. Three of his 4 degrees that DeMille cites are from Coral Ridge Baptist University, which apparently is a diploma mill. People who have attended their $160 2-day seminars have found that a lot of the seminar time was dedicated to hard-selling them the next seminar. If you're interested in more information, look into joining Classical-LDSfirstname.lastname@example.org to read these files and the current discussion.Obviously, Sarah was slightly in error, only two of DeMille’s four degrees were from Coral Ridge (excluding his honorary LL.D.). But, in the main, she was accurate. Now that the word had gotten out about DeMille’s degrees in LDS circles, I hoped that would be that. Of course he still had true believers. On February 26, “Anne”—obviously responding to Sarah on the same chat page—wrote:
He did not get his degrees from a diploma mill. The authors of the accusatory essay against George Wythe College and Oliver DeMille are out to get him. I even posted a long reply to a few of the “attacks” on DeMille, but my post never made it to the list! The list moderators censored me and now they've banned any topics referring to TJEd [A Thomas Jefferson Education].Unfortunately for the loyal Anne, it wouldn’t be long before George Wythe College finally admitted DeMille had received two degrees from—in their own words—“diploma mills,” including his Juris Doctor from LaSalle:
[DeMille] also learned about diploma mills, and that the market doesn’t support truly low quality programs—the Technical Institute [of Biblical Studies] and La Salle were later legally shut down.I can’t be sure exactly when “The First Fourteen Years: The History of the Founding of George Wythe College” by Shanon Brooks went up on GWC’s website—it only recently came to my attention—but I can only assume from the 2005 copyright and the April 2005 date given after Brooks’s introduction, that it was written primarily as a defense against those LDS discussions going on at the time—discussions I hope my emails helped inspire.
But what an odd title! It’s a bit like a story about Jesus’ life being entitled “The First Thirty-three Years: The History of the Birth of Jesus Christ.” Did it really take fourteen years to found George Wythe College? Or is this an example of those “adequate research” skills Coral Ridge inspired in its Utah branch? Perhaps worse is the lack of math skills the title implies. The copyright date minus fourteen years is 1991. George Wythe College—according to Brooks—was founded in September 1992. April 2005, the date Brooks presumably finished his “definitive history” of GWC, is just over twelve and a half years after the schools founding! As a matter of fact, the last paragraph of “The First Fourteen Years” begins, “In the twelve years since its inception, George Wythe College. . . .” Even if the title were being changed with the passage of time (I’m writing this in June of 2006), that’s still only thirteen years since GWC’s inception.
But most of the dating—or lack of dating—in this article written by the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of George Wythe College is confusing. Or should I say obfuscating? Brooks writes in his introduction, “Note that I have not written this history in a strict chronological order, rather I have followed the various plot lines needed to narrate the account in a meaningful way.” While that may sound like a plausible explanation, I would contend that there is no “meaningful” reason not to give such dates as when DeMille was born, graduated from high school, started at BYU, did his two year mission in Barcelona, continued at BYU, left BYU before graduaring, did graduate correspondence work with Coral Ridge, “earned” his Juris Doctor degree, and so on. Instead, Brooks typically clouds the chronology by using such phrases as, “In the days following his return from Spain,” “Oliver spent the next several years,” “With less than three semesters left to complete his degree,” “In time, he earned a Juris Doctorate,” and “It was during this time.”
While it might seem unreasonable that I should expect a chronology of Oliver DeMille in a history of George Wythe College, it should be explained that a great deal of “The First Fourteen Years” is devoted to only a slightly disguised defense of DeMille’s academic career, beginning with his childhood. I say defense, because it is obvious Brooks is trying to answer—at least superficially—all of the negative facts about DeMille that I had emailed to LDS groups over the years. It is also obvious to anyone with the facts that he is trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Brooks begins with a section entitled “The Founders”—plural. They are named in the introduction as “Oliver and Rachel DeMille and Dr. Donald N. Sills.” But in “The Founders,” Oliver DeMille’s background is the only one covered (and covered up). Call me jaded, but the opening seems intended to tug at the heartstrings, give the reader warm fuzzies, and paint DeMille as a sort of young Abe Lincoln with cutesy sibling rivalries:
In spite of childhood learning disabilities that delayed his reading, Oliver DeMille became a highly motivated young man. He grew up in the small rural community of Hurricane, Utah, where he learned agrarian values along with a farming work ethic. More often than not, he applied the work ethic to reading rather than farm work, much to the chagrin of his two brothers. Although raised in a typical low middle class home, he found stability in the affection of his family and devotion to their religion.The next paragraph contains similar fluff, but we move from Abe Lincoln to Superman:
At a Hugh O’Brian youth leadership conference, young Oliver gained a sense that he needed a world-class education and that his personal mission would be to promote liberty and good government worldwide.Just as Coral Ridge invoked Harvard and Yale in its grammatically-challenged ad, Brooks begins using a similar technique to puff up DeMille’s reputation. He throws in impressive sounding details that actually mean nothing—for example, “After seriously considering West Point and the Air Force Academy. . . .” The question Mr. Brooks conveniently does not answer is: Did West Point and the Air Force Academy ever seriously consider DeMille? I suspect that if “young Oliver” had been offered a spot at either academy it would have read: “Turning down appointments to West Point and the Air Force Academy. . . .” Although DeMille was later honorably discharged (Brooks says) from the ROTC for medical reasons, we learn that he had “intended to be an intelligence officer.” That’s almost as impressive as his considering West Point and the Air Force Academy: he planned to be an intelligence officer but never became one.
(I once seriously considered being an Indian chief—Oglala or Hunkpapa Sioux, I went back and forth—but I learned that there were a number of insurmountable obstacles, and I have never mentioned it in resumes or bios.)
According to Brooks, DeMille went to BYU for a year then served a two-year mission in Barcelona, Spain (4). In “The College Years,” he returns from Spain and goes back to BYU. During that time he learns from a W. Cleon Skousen book how Thomas Jefferson studied under George Wythe. With only three semesters left to complete his BYU degree, Brooks claims DeMille “set out to find a school where [he] could study under a Wythe like Jefferson did” (5).
Oliver looked up Skousen and asked him to be his mentor. He then “spent the next several years concurrently studying at BYU and reading assigned classics under the direction of Dr. Cleon Skousen and Dr. Donald Sills, another mentor he met through his association with Dr. Skousen” (7). Then one day Sills tells DeMille about Coral Ridge Baptist University and he quits BYU, his degree “all but completed,” to take correspondence courses from this school that is admittedly “not regionally accredited” (7).
One has to wonder why it took DeMille so long to find out about Coral Ridge—and why it was Sills and not Skousen who told him. Skousen’s son-in-law, Glenn Kimber, had been given a Ph.D. from Coral Ridge in 1988. Like DeMille’s later Coral Ridge degrees, Mr. Kimber’s “Doctorate of Humanities Degree” contains no religious qualifier (making Mr. Kimber’s degree illegal under Florida law, as well).
Although Brooks can tell us that DeMille had a 3.89 GPA when he dropped out of BYU, we don’t get any significant dates regarding DeMille’s education until we learn he got his Ph.D. from Coral Ridge in 1994 (20)—two years after he founded George Wythe College. Surely, we can assume he had his so-called master’s degree from Coral Ridge by September of 1992. If not, George Wythe College began with only one professor, DeMille (20), who held no degree except possibly his diploma-mill J.D. and a fake Las Vegas Bible school diploma.
So DeMille didn’t have his Ph.D. from Coral Ridge until two years after he founded George Wythe College. That’s very strange indeed, because later Brooks quotes this from Shawn Ercanbrack, the first Chairman of GWC’s Steering Committee:
During his doctoral studies, Dr. DeMille had asked the question, What type of education is required to build statesmen the caliber of Thomas Jefferson? Dr. DeMille’s research revealed that Jefferson was the product of his mentor, George Wythe . . . (22)So which is it? On the one hand, according to Brooks, DeMille found out about Jefferson’s mentor George Wythe from Skousen’s book while still at BYU and began seeking such an education outside his BYU classes, but on the other hand, according to Ercanbrack (in Brook’s article), DeMille was getting his doctorate (at Coral Ridge) when he learned about Jefferson’s mentor. You’d think someone would have set Ercanbrack straight—or was his the story being told back in the mid-nineties when he became chairman?
Although Brooks gives very few dates—for obvious reasons, it seems to me—with a few phone calls and emails, I collected some relevant ones. DeMille graduated from high school in 1986. Brooks tells us he went to BYU for a year. That agrees with the dates of his mission in Spain. The LDS Church History Library supplied the information that DeMille’s mission began September 23, 1987 and ended September 19, 1989. DeMille had exactly three years and three days (including a leap day) from the time his mission ended to the day he began teaching the first class at George Wythe College on September 21, 1992. Despite the fact that BYU’s 1989 Fall semester began on September 5, 1989, we’ll assume DeMille started over two weeks late when he returned from Spain later that month rather than waiting for the Spring semester to renew his BYU studies. With three semesters left at BYU he begins his search for a Thomas Jefferson education. There are typically eight semesters to a four-year bachelor’s degree, so to arrive at a date when he began his search, we can subtract the three semesters he had left and the two he completed before his mission from eight. That leaves three semesters to add to his September 1989 return—which takes us to Christmas vacation 1990. We’re told he then studied for “several” years concurrently at BYU and with Skousen and Sills. We’ll need to get technical here: according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, “several,” as a pronoun, means “an indefinite number more than two and fewer than many,” but as an adjective, it can mean “more than one” (although it’s rarely used that way). We’ll pretend Brooks means two years by “several,” instead of at least three. Added to 1990, that takes us to Christmas 1992. In that timeline DeMille has yet to start at Coral Ridge, but GWC is already in business. It doesn’t fit. It also raises the question, Why hasn’t DeMille graduated? There would have been more than enough time to earn his BYU degree on time if he had continued to study at BYU for several years after he had three semesters remaining. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave,” as Scott observed.
Let’s calculate it another way. According to Brooks, DeMille had “all but completed” his BYU degree when he dropped out in favor of Coral Ridge. I’m willing to accept that “all but completed” means he had one semester remaining—any more and “all but completed” has little meaning. Or worse, it is used to throw the reader off track. So once again, giving DeMille the benefit of the doubt and letting him start his sophomore year at BYU late upon returning from Spain, five more semesters brings him to within a semester of graduation. It also takes us to the Christmas vacation of 1991. That gives DeMille roughly nine months in which to “earn” his master’s degree (without having first earned a bachelor’s) and his Juris Doctor (he claims he actually did course work for LaSalle). He also must found George Wythe College and create its curriculum during this same period before teaching GWC’s first class in September 1992.
Citing another DeMille source, his Thomas Jefferson Education, makes his chronology even more disjointed. On page 29, DeMille states: “When I was a junior at a major university, I developed the habit of seeking mentors.” Hold the phone! Obviously, the “major university” was BYU. If DeMille did not begin seeking mentors until his junior year (1990-1991 school year), then Skousen and Sills did not come into the picture until then. But Brooks says he “spent the next several years concurrently studying at BYU and reading assigned classics under the direction of Skousen and Sills. Two years, the very minimum of “several,” would have seen DeMille graduate on time from BYU in 1992. DeMille, again according to Brooks, did not start his master’s degree until leaving BYU. That would only have given him the summer vacation to “earn” a master’s from Coral Ridge Baptist University before founding GWC in September. [Again, I’d like to point out that Coral Ridge Baptist “University” has no connection to Dr. D. James Kennedy or his Coral Ridge Ministries.]
According to Brooks, DeMille, as the lone professor, taught all of the core classes at GWC through 1997 (20). Until he received his Ph.D. in Education in 1994 that Coral Ridge was not entitled, by law, to bestow and finally graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in August of the same year, he apparently was teaching and mentoring in every subject based on his illegal master’s degree in Political Science and his quickie, diploma-mill law degree. For those supporters of DeMille who are reading this article, let’s use a little common sense. Let me compare just a bit of my own college experience with what is supposed to be the far superior classics/mentoring methods of George Wythe College.
I received a BSEd in English from the University of Delaware in 1978. As an undergrad, if I wanted to study or discuss the works of James Joyce, I could turn to the Chairman of the English Department, Zack Bowen. Not only had Dr. Bowen written scholarly works on Joyce, such as The Musical Illusions in the Works of James Joyce: Early Poetry through Ulysses, but he was president of the James Joyce Society (whose first member had been T. S. Elliot) and is now a past-president of the International James Joyce Foundation.
I studied the Romantic poets with Charlie Robinson. Dr. Robinson knew Lord Byron’s writings so well that while reading a nineteenth century London Times he recognized Byron as the author of an anonymous letter to the editor. He was able to convince the scholarly community that Byron had, indeed, written the letter, and it has been added to the poet’s collected correspondence. He also discovered a short story by Mary Shelley (the author of Frankenstein) that had been overlooked since its publication in the early nineteenth century. He had the honor, as editor, of presenting it to the modern world in a new collection of her short stories. Dr. Robinson is currently the president of the Byron Society of America.
J. A. Leo LeMay, with whom I studied early American literature, “was named the Distinguished Scholar of Early American Literature by the Early American Literature Group of the Modern Language Association [MLA], as well as a John Guggenheim Fellow by the National Endowment for the Humanities.” “The William & Mary Quarterly dubbed him ‘the pioneering scholar of early American literature.’ The New York Review of Books credited LeMay and his students with producing much of the scholarship about [Benjamin] Franklin in the last half century. His list of publications is 13 pages long, single-spaced.”
I had the opportunity not only to study under these men but also to talk with them after class and during their office hours. From whom would one want to learn about Franklin or Byron or Joyce, these men or Oliver DeMille? Or worse, compare taking correspondence courses from GWC and receiving weekly “mentoring” phone calls to face-to-face time with these University of Delaware professors. Does it make any kind of sense that DeMille or his minions could be more qualified to teach literature than these noted scholars? I think not. Well, the same can be said regarding any subject DeMille taught or teaches—more qualified men are to be found in those disciplines in just about any major university, including Brigham Young. All students need to do is seek them out.
Actually, in Thomas Jefferson Education, DeMille suggests something along these very lines. However, his version manages to be pompous, presumptuous, and vacuous.
When I was a junior at a major university, I developed a habit of seeking mentors. I’d go to my professors at the beginning of the term, sit in their office and say, “I appreciate all of the work that went into this course syllabus, but if I wanted to know as much as you do about the subject by the time this term is over, what would I do? Would you give me a reading list and assignments so I can achieve that goal? This doesn’t always work, but I took many classes where the teachers were willing to work with me. Most of the teachers said, “Okay, we’ll see what happens.” I’d come back in three or four weeks and say, “Okay, I read these twelve books. And here’s a stack of papers I’ve written. Now ask me a question” (30). . . . What I found is that the conveyor belt isn’t required, but it takes some work to overcome it.Okay, besides the fact that this is really meant to impress his audience with what a brilliant, diligent, and quick mind DeMille must have, try to actually imagine a junior taking “Early American Lit.” from Leo LeMay and asking those questions of the MLA’s “Distinguished Scholar of Early American Literature.” It is laughable to think an undergrad’s reading twelve books and writing a stack of papers could begin to scratch the surface of Dr. LeMay’s knowledge based on a lifetime of meticulous scholarship. How arrogant to entertain the thought that “a stack of papers” written in a few weeks might remotely approach LeMay’s 13-page, single-spaced list of publications. Ditto Zack Bowen, Charlie Robinson, et al. Were the professors at BYU so inferior that they actually believed giving DeMille outside assignments could bring him up to their scholarly level by the end of term? (An ironic fact never mentioned by Brooks is that one of DeMille’s mentors, W. Cleon Skousen, taught Book of Mormon courses as a professor at BYU for sixteen years. So obviously, the type of mentor DeMille claims he needed had been available at one time on BYU’s very campus.)
But The First Fourteen Years tells a different story about DeMille’s seeking mentors at BYU. “With less than three semesters left to complete his degree” (5)—that is, in his junior year—he reads about the mentoring relationship Thomas Jefferson found with George Wythe. DeMille claims:
I couldn’t seem to find such an educational opportunity anywhere. I wanted a George Wythe Education, the kind Jefferson had, and I wasn’t willing to settle for anything else. None of my professors had any suggestions as to what to do; they either tried to direct me to more ‘modern’ types of scholarship (with a more focused specialization) or they recommended a few experts outside the university system who might help me.In this revision of DeMille’s educational history, gone are all of those mentors he found willing to help at BYU. Those professors who took the time to make up outside reading lists and read his stacks of papers and take the time to question him about what he’d discovered independently—the ones who helped him overcome a “conveyor belt” education—have all vanished without a trace. That’s the thanks they get from Oliver Van DeMille.
So to solve his dilemma in one version, DeMille walks away from BYU before graduating to be mentored by Coral Ridge’s Jeff Burnsed, a man with three degrees from the well-known, defunct diploma mill, Kensington University—and let us never forget Burnsed’s own school’s “More people than any other singular language in the world use the Spanish language worldwide.”
Supposedly, DeMille was following in Thomas Jefferson’s footsteps by taking this dramatic step. But what does history actually reveal? Before he studied with lawyer George Wythe—primarily to prepare for the Virginia bar—Thomas Jefferson GRADUATED from the College of William and Mary (where George Wythe would later become professor of law). Why didn’t DeMille follow this part of the path in his supposed attempt to emulate Thomas Jefferson? Of course, Jefferson was only nineteen at the time of his graduation, which might indicate that one of the first and necessary components of receiving a Thomas Jefferson education is being born incredibly brilliant, a factor no amount of classics or mentoring can give a student.
Brooks, in penning his apologia of DeMille’s academic history, seems particularly focused on one thing. It is crucial that Coral Ridge Baptist University be painted as an educational panacea in order to overcome the negative discussions among LDS homeschoolers labeling Coral Ridge a diploma mill. As he writes on page 8:
The educational experience with Coral Ridge mentors was a whole new level of challenging study. Dr. Sills and Dr. Jeff Burnsed were both Baptist ministers, and Dr. Skousen was a long-time religious author and political researcher. [Note he doesn’t include “and former BYU professor."]Brooks had to know anyone who could access Google would easily learn what a despicable diploma mill LaSalle had been. So if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em: he admits LaSalle was a diploma mill and portrays DeMille as a sad-but-wiser victim. But if Coral Ridge’s reputation falls, all DeMille is really left with is a BYU bachelor’s degree and a reputation for seeking out impressive-sounding-but-worthless degrees—hardly enough to justify his founding a college or being looked to as a guru of the Thomas Jefferson education model.
Brooks lays it on thick:
For the first time, studying with a book in one hand and a Bible in the other, Oliver devoured history, economics, science, government, math, law, human relations, and business . . . The workload was intense. Oliver had been a good student at BYU, but with Coral Ridge he typically studied over eighty hours per week, sometimes more. As good as the BYU studies had been, the Coral Ridge learning was truly great, much more challenging than anything he had ever done or seen. (8)Stirring stuff—not quite Henry V’s St. Crispen Day speech, but it tickles the ears. But one has to wonder, how did DeMille manage, with both hands occupied, to turn the pages of classics by “Montesquieu, Hume, Blackstone, Locke and many others”? But seriously, what evidence is there that Coral Ridge offered such a superior education as Brooks describes—other than anecdotal . . . from people with a vested interest? Such superiority is not evident in its 2001 student catalog, even though DeMille’s mentor, Jeff Burnsed, was still Coral Ridge’s president. As a matter of fact, Coral Ridge’s own catalog is the best evidence that it offered just what you’d expect from a non-accredited correspondence school located in an independent church and run by a guy with a fistful of diploma mill degrees. But by 2005, when Brooks finished his “history,” unlike LaSalle, all Internet traces of Coral Ridge had been erased (but not my paper copies, nor the ability of the “Internet Archive Wayback Machine” to restore many of the dead URL links). So it must have seemed safe to claim whatever one wanted about Coral Ridge’s mythical superiority.
I may be flattering myself, but it seems curiously coincidental that not too long after I complained to the Florida Department of Education in 2001 about Coral Ridge giving DeMille non-religious degrees in violation of Florida law, and after I’d written a number of LDS groups citing the distinctly non-scholarly course catalog of DeMille’s alma mater, that Coral Ridge and George Wythe parted company and Coral Ridge’s web site disappeared. Could those two actions have been taken to protect the more viable business, George Wythe College? Sound like a conspiracy theory? Funny you should mention that.
There were several things that needed to be covered—or covered up—in Brooks’s “history.” Two I’d never come across. He doesn’t give the reader any dates as to when “young Oliver” made these big errors in judgment, but it can be figured out. He states:
After experiencing such a high quality study program [at Coral Ridge], he began looking closely at other non-traditional schools. In time, he earned a Juris Doctorate degree from La Salle . . . Oliver, later comparing his experience of Coral Ridge to that of LaSalle, said “it was like night and day”; he ranked the program at La Salle very poor.The next paragraph begins: “It was during this time that Oliver made two glaring mistakes.” As previously discussed, DeMille started and finished LaSalle in 1992. So “during this time” is when he received and put a degree from the Technical Institute of the Bible in Las Vegas on his resume. He had done absolutely no class work for this degree, and even when they sent him a fictitious transcript of his class work, he continued to list this as an earned degree (glaring mistake number one). And since he kept it on his resume for a year before becoming “incensed” and “Embarrassed to have been personally duped,” (9) it was clearly still on his resume after he founded George Wythe College.
Glaring error number two also gives us a date for “during this time.” “His second big mistake was to publish a book entitled Christ versus Satan: The New World Order.” Don’t bother to Google it, that’s not the title—so much for a “definitive history” (9). If I were conspiracy-prone, I would say Brooks is trying to smooth over DeMille’s days as an ardent conspiracy “theorist” without giving the reader solid clues to find out just how ardent DeMille really was. The book’s actual title is THE NEW WORLD ORDER: CHOOSING BETWEEN CHRIST AND SATAN IN THE LAST DAYS. It was co-authored by Keith Lockhart and published in 1992. Pay close attention to this absurd explanation by Brooks:
This youthful study of conspiracy, written while he was a student at BYU, was actually a valuable research project for Oliver. He learned all the conspiracy lingo, closely analyzed what parts of it held some truth and what was mostly speculation and even just plain sensationalism. He felt strongly that he shouldn’t publish it, but gave in to a desire to get the message out—he thought in his youthful exuberance that he had stumbled onto something that everyone needed to know.” (9)DeMille sounds a bit schizophrenic to me: he strongly felt he should not publish it while at the same time thought it was “something everyone needed to know.” Does youthful zeal really explain it—even when you throw in “youthful” twice in one paragraph? There was a computer generated paper folded within the used copy of THE NEW WORLD ORDER (NWO) I recently purchased entitled, “MATERIALS AVAILABLE BY OLIVER DEMILLE.” Besides NWO were listed the pamphlets “Christ versus Satan,” “Alternatives to the New World Order,” “Mexico, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and World Government,” and others. DeMille, whose address was listed at the bottom, was also selling his audiotapes: “The History of the New World Order: What it is and Where it Came from,” “Combating Anti Christ,” “The Future of the New World Order: The Next Ten Years,” and “The Events of the Second Coming and the World Today.” I have a hunch that most of the other pamphlet titles—such as “Germany, the European Community, and World Order” and “India Beyond the Ghandis [sic]: National Socialism versus Global Socialism”—refer to the New World Order, as well. I’m thinking this qualifies more as a cottage industry than a onetime display of youthful exuberance. Obviously, Brooks is doing damage control.
Anyone reading NWO will quickly see that there is little “closely reasoned” about it. DeMille, for the most part, makes flat statements without offering much by way of hard evidence, occasionally bolstering his claims by citing other conspiracy books. For example:
Satan’s church became so powerful in the days of Noah that it actually controlled the world. (see Genesis 6:11-13; Moses [LDS scripture] 5:51; 7:33; 8:15, 22) According to the writers of modern day secret societies, secret combinations took over all the national governments and set up a world government that worshipped Satan. They called their satanic world government “Atlantis.” (Still, William T. 1990. New World Order: The Ancient Plan of Secret Societies. Pp 41-45; Ingnatius Donnally [sic]. 1976. Atlantis; The Antediluvian World. Pp 189-193). (12)I’m not sure if Ignatius Donnelly counts as a “modern day” writer—he first published Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in 1882 and died in 1901. And for those not familiar with the term “secret combination” it appears a number of times in the Book of Mormon to describe a Freemason-like band, the Gadianton Robbers, that took over the government of the Nephites, the ancient Hebrew civilization that had supposedly settled in America. “Coincidentally,” in 1828, while Joseph Smith was writing the Book of Mormon, a kidnapping and probable murder involving the Freemasons caused a mass exodus of members from that organization.
Anti-Masonic newspapers sprang up—as well as an Anti-Masonic (political) Party—accusing Freemasons of secretly planning to take over the United States government. As Webster’s 1828 dictionary notes regarding “combination”: “It is sometimes equivalent to league, or to conspiracy.” “Secret combination” was a term applied to Freemasonry several times in Joseph Smith’s hometown newspaper prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon.
DeMille makes this interesting claim on page 14 of NWO:
The term “New World Order” means the same thing today—abolishment of Christianity and the adoption of Satan’s plan—whether spoken in lodges and meetings of secret societies or on national television by George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev. This does not mean that Bush or Gorbachev are Satan-worshippers, but they have accepted his plan—that governments should use force to make people live correctly. (14)I began this article with a quote from NWO. It should now be obvious it refers to the first President Bush:
During the coming year the secret combinations and the governments they control will do a number of things to build a Satanic New World Order. President Bush and many Congressmen, who are controlled by the secret societies, will attempt to further this cause and to continue the curtailment of freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. (78)I can’t be sure if DeMille’s prediction about the coming “year” meant the year following the publication of his book, 1993, or if this is a typo and he meant the coming “years,” but under “IMMEDIATE PLANS” he states on page 79:
In order to create a New World Order before the year 2000, the Establishment will make drastic changes within the United States during the next few years. The immediate plans include the following policies:Here are a few of the fifteen policies listed with the number assigned them by DeMille:
1. Put the U.S. military under the control of the United Nations (de facto, if not officially).Forgive me if I missed the memos on any of these policies, but I’m pretty sure none of DeMille’s paranoia came to pass—legislatively or otherwise—by the year 2000. Is it any wonder Brooks hoped to sweep all of this under the carpet as simple “youthful exuberance.” But in having DeMille take a bullet—even of low caliber—on this one, he tried to skirt a more damning issue.
2. Disarm the U.S. military as a defensive entity for North America, turning the weapons, personnel and materials over to the U.N. (this is currently being implemented).
5. Turn the U.S. economy into a social market (this task is implemented through the unconstitutional socialist legislation passed in congress and unconstitutional Executive Orders sent out by the President).
7. Merge the U.S. economy with those of Canada and Mexico (this is currently being negotiated in the NAFTA talks).
9. Begin publicizing the idea of political merger with Canada, Mexico and the Latin American States. (79, 80)
This book was published in 1992, about the time DeMille should have been getting his master’s in Political Science from Coral Ridge. Cleon Skousen and Don Sills are supposed to have been mentoring DeMille for “several years.” Where is he getting his flaky political ideas? Are they from the classics Skousen and Sills were having him read? Or were they from his mentors themselves?
In his online article, “Clinton, Quigley, and Conspiracy: What's going on here?” Daniel Brandt writes:
On the far right, meanwhile, Quigley found a convert in W. Cleon Skousen, a former FBI agent who later became a star of the John Birch Society's lecture circuit. In 1970, Skousen published a book-length review of Quigley's Tragedy and Hope that was titled The Naked Capitalist. It quoted so heavily from Quigley’s work that Quigley threatened to sue for copyright infringement.Skousen chose to emphasize Quigley's mention of subterranean financial arrangements between certain Wall Street interests and certain groups on the U.S. left, in particular the Communist Party.
In the same article, Brandt concludes:
Skousen is much more conspiratorial than Oglesby. He applies conspiracy thinking to complex issues where a middle ground would be productive (such as CFR [Council on Foreign Relations], Bilderberg, and Trilateralism), and treats them in an either/or fashion as if they were similar to the JFK assassination. It doesn't work very well. The New World Order may be a bad idea, but to assume as a starting point that it’s a Communist plot doesn't help us understand the who or why behind it.Can there be any doubt that, contrary to Shanon Brooks’s claims, DeMille did not stumble upon his ideas about the New World Order independently as some naive youth writing a BYU term paper? Instead, they were a product of his mentoring by the John Birch Society’s “star,” Cleon Skousen. If that is the case, then what Brooks really should have written is: “DeMille’s second big mistake was listening to his mentor’s political conspiracy theories and publishing a book about them.”
DeMille also tries to play off the book in GWC’s history by calling it “Zeal without knowledge,” and cautions against conspiracy theories by tritely encouraging, “Let’s be builders, not bashers” (10). (One cannot help but think that the latter advice is offered more to discredit those who would “bash” DeMille’s academic claims, those who true-believer Anne would say are joined in a conspiracy that is “out to get him.”) But in the “About the Authors” section of NWO, DeMille’s description of himself is far from “Zeal without knowledge”:
OLIVER DEMILLE is a professional researcher and lecturer who has written books and articles on subjects including international politics, economics, improved educational techniques, the Constitution, and alternative health.Hoist by his own petard, as the saying goes. Brooks and DeMille are caught between a rock and a hard place—or for you classically educated, between Scylla and Charybdis. They must publicly disavow the fruit of the mentoring DeMille received—Skousen’s New World Order theories—without publicly disavowing Skousen. Apparently, they haven’t learned that history lesson about cake from Marie Antoinette.
One can only assume—since he is one of only three mentors Brooks mentions—that W. Cleon Skousen is supposed to be one of “the most respected political leaders in the United States.” I’m not personally familiar with Skousen’s work, except in a general way, but at the risk of once again receiving an avalanche of vitriolic emails from certain BYU professors for “kicking a corpse” (Skousen died January 9, 2006 just shy of 93)—I am personally familiar with the John Birch Society. Although born a Jersey boy, I spent roughly half of my public school years in the South—North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. My father worked for DuPont and was transferred every year or two. I can remember a billboard we passed in North Carolina on the way to church each week that showed a young Martin Luther King seated in a mixed-race meeting, an identifying black arrow with “KING” written on it superimposed over the shirt of the white man to his right. The caption above the huge photo read, “Martin Luther King at Communist Training School.” The John Birch Society sent out thousands of postcards in the 1960s based on that billboard in their fight against the Civil Rights Movement, which they dubbed a communist conspiracy.
Am I using guilt by association? I’m well aware people do dumb things when they’re young—I will neither confirm nor deny that I joined the Monkees’ Fan Club as a teen—but Skousen was in his late 50’s when he “became a star of the John Birch Society’s lecture circuit.” I’m not saying or even implying that W. Cleon Skausen was a racist—although this was during a time when the Latter-day Saint Church still forbade blacks from holding priesthood office—but why would he promote the causes of a group with such a despicable record on Civil Rights, especially as he deemed himself a defender of the Constitution? (I find it suggestive that his son did not mention the John Birch Society in his eulogy of Mr. Skousen’s long, full, and interesting life. )
But what of DeMille’s other mentors? I think enough has been presented about Jeff Burnsed and his so-called university to deduce that he is no George Wythe. But something in NWO rather surprised me in light of Coral Ridge’s position on Mormonism in its course work. In the chapter “HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE NEW WORLD ORDER,” DeMille advises: “Shun individuals or groups that do not support the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter [sic] Day Saints and the Brethren who lead it.” At the bottom of Coral Ridge’s “World Religions & Cults” syllabus—the same syllabus that unambiguously calls Mormonism a cult—is this note: “God bless your efforts as you seek Him. Need help? Please feel free to call or email Dr. Jeff Burnsed at . . .” Granted, this was a 2001 syllabus, but is it likely that Burnsed developed this opinion of the Latter-day Saint faith suddenly, nearly ten years after he allowed a Mormon to found a branch of Coral Ridge Baptist University in Utah? What Brooks’s article would have us believe is that DeMille was being mentored at the time NWO was published by someone he firmly believed he should shun! And if Coral Ridge can be considered a group, DeMille should have deliberately avoided Coral Ridge, as well. There are several levels of hypocrisy here that I’ll let the reader sort out.
That leaves Dr. Don Sills. I haven’t been able to learn anything about Sills’s doctorate [see addendum for 2008 findings.]. George Wythe College seems to have blocked my emails, so I can’t ask Brooks about this other founder’s academic credentials. One thing is for sure, DeMille wouldn’t have needed to shun him. As Brooks writes:
Dr. Sills had made a career out of supporting religious freedom in the U.S. and in a number of other nations, openly supporting the rights of churches he didn’t agree with doctrinally, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, known as Mormons, and the Unification Church, known as Moonies. This had lost Dr. Sills some of his support in the Baptist community, but he was willing to stand for what be believed even when it cost him financial security. (8)Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?—Sills “made a career out of” something that “cost him financial security.” One wonders if that financial security went missing while Sills was president of the American Freedom Coalition.
Another group admitting Unification Church funding is the American Freedom Coalition (AFC), publisher of the monthly Religious Freedom Alert, headed by Donald Sills as president and Robert Grant as chairman. They received approximately 6 million dollars within a 2 1/2 year period from Unification sources (reported by Cornerstone Magazine vol. 23, issue 105).
[Item: The only information I can find online about the Technical Institute of Biblical Studies in Las Vegas—where DeMille received a diploma and transcript for doing no work—is their giving the Unification Church’s leader, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 2001. DeMille had a mentor who supported Rev. Moon—and vice versa—and a degree from a diploma mill that celebrated Rev. Moon. Is there a connection? I don’t know, but it kind of makes you go “hmmm.”]
But it’s one thing to support the First Amendment and quite another to fawn over the likes of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. On the web site “L. Ron Hubbard, One of the Most Remarkable Lives of the 20th Century: From Friends Who Respect and Admire Him” comes this high praise:
I have found many writers and teachers simply reiterate that which is known and accepted. Seldom in a lifetime does there come a man who challenges the axioms. L. Ron Hubbard was such a man. Not satisfied with the status quo he reached for the stars. In so doing he forced the rest of us to move from our complacency and to know why we believe what we believe. (Dr. Donald N. Sills President, Coalition for Religious Freedom Washington, D.C.)The Da Vinci Code may have moved some people to know why they believe what they believe, but it’s still based on manufactured “history” and denies the divinity of Jesus Christ. I would assume that a good Mormon like Oliver DeMille—his rubrics in NWO ’s “The Road to Exaltation” (56) reiterate pure Mormon theology—would consider Scientology a New Age religion. On page 20 of NWO DeMille warns:
The highest level of secret combinations is made up of Satan’s prophets, who have made blood oaths and secret covenants to serve and worship him. They foster a number of lower organizations—from New Age religions to international financial institutions to secret fraternal societies to academic institutions, councils and commissions—that help promote their plan of a Satanic New World Order.Perhaps this explains why DeMille strongly felt he should not publish THE NEW WORLD ORDER: CHOOSING BETWEEN CHRIST AND SATAN IN THE LAST DAY—it would disappoint his mentor, Don Sills, with its condemning of New Age religions. At the same time, he thought everyone needed to know about the New World Order because New Age religions are the pawns of Satan’s prophets and are out to help promote world domination. DeMille may have thought it a case of publish or perish—or am I looking for some kind of consistency where all one can really hope to find is expediency?
I think it safe to assume that DeMille’s New World Order book and pamphlets, for the most part, represent the legal and political writings for which Coral Ridge gave him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree some time between 1992 and 1995. In 1992, when NEW WORLD ORDER was published, the “RELATED MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT” offered for sale on page 116 comprised only two pamphlets, both by Oliver DeMille: “Alternatives to the New World Order” and “U.S. National Security in the1990’s.” Since there were quite a few more titles (and taped speeches) on this subject listed on the computer printout inserted into my copy—and since the price of NWO had been reduced there—this would indicate that DeMille continued to write (and speak) about the New World Order well after he published his book in 1992. And after he’d left BYU, Mr. Brooks.
But here’s a new conspiracy theory. Maybe, as with his Las Vegas Bible school diploma, Coral Ridge gave DeMille a Ph.D. (and maybe even a master’s) for little or no actual course work. Diploma mills and “non-traditional” schools are notorious for granting degrees based primarily or exclusively on “life experience.” I found this information online from another Coral Ridge alum:
For over ten years I researched and preached three different series on the New Age & Occult and along the way, authored three books on the subject. For my research, I was granted a Doctorate of Divinity from the Coral Ridge Baptist University in Jacksonville, Florida.Did Oliver DeMille, like this gentleman, actually receive most or all of his credit at Coral Ridge for his research, speaking, and writing? How many college credits did he receive for the “life experience” he gained being mentored by Skousen and Sills? It certainly strikes me as odd that “a professional researcher and lecturer who has written books and articles” should have to study 80 hours a week to get his degrees when Coral Ridge handed over a doctorate to another “student” merely for past research. And—I’m just asking—did Coral Ridge’s going into business with DeMille help expedite his receiving his degrees? After all, they were the second non-accredited school that wanted DeMille to go into business with them. As Brooks writes of one of young Oliver’s alma maters, the Technical Institute of Biblical Studies in Las Vegas:
A year later, instead of giving him the refund he desired, the school representative called and asked if he wanted to open a branch in Utah, claiming he could make good money by advertising degrees and then just awarding them for whatever people sent in. (9)I suppose it’s all of this conspiracy talk, but that story sure sounds fishy. What kind of lightweight academic con men ran TIBS? Why would a smooth operator confess his scam to a disgruntled student who wants his money back? Why would a phony-diploma dealer ask an honest seeker after knowledge to join him in scamming others? Did DeMille just get a better offer from Coral Ridge? Again, I’m just asking.
But, surely, this giving of doctorate degrees for previous work—the old diploma mill catch-all “life experience”—could never happen at Oliver Van DeMille’s own school. After all, someone like DeMille, who worked “eighty hours a week, sometimes more,” would not just hand out degrees to people who had done neither class work at George Wythe College nor been mentored by its fine staff. Or would he? According to the Deseret News, which is owned by the LDS Church, he would:
Ann Blake Tracy, according to the International Coalition for Drug Awareness web site, has a doctorate in health sciences with an emphasis on psychology. There is no mention of the institution that awarded her this degree — George Wythe College, in Cedar City. Tracy explains that the Ph.D. was awarded for “lifetime experience,” specifically for the writing of “Prozac: Panacea or Pandora?” which she says she has been told is the equivalent of, or “far beyond,” a dissertation.It’s nice to see that Anne Blake Tracy carried on the Coral Ridge tradition of “spelling and punctuation errors and incomplete sentences” in her book. But seriously, this self-taught “graduate” of George Wythe College went on to being an “expert” witness submitted in an Arkansas rape case (and, to my mind, that is serious). Unlike DeMille’s institution of higher learning, though, the Court of Appeals of Arkansas was not so impressed with Tracy’s “life experience,” ruling “that her intended testimony was not reliable and that the methodology she used was suspect.” Thankfully, because of the court’s due diligence, a man who’d been convicted of raping his stepsons could not use “Dr.” Tracy’s testimony that Paxil made him do it.
Self-published, the book contains spelling and punctuation errors and incomplete sentences (although Tracy says an edited version will be published in the next few weeks). It also contains page after page of references to studies that seem to cast a cloud over the safety of antidepressants . . .
. . . “It’s hard to know where to begin to detail the cognitive errors she’s making,” says psychiatrist Tomb about Tracy’s book. “She is really taking license with the scientific method.” Yes, Tracy is passionate about the evils of antidepressants, Tomb says, “but passion has very little place in the scientific method in terms of deciding what is accurate and truthful.” The book is full of vignettes, but vignettes don’t tell the whole story, he argues. “You could take aspirin and do the same thing: comb the literature and find horrible things that have occurred with aspirin.”
While I suspect that the example of Ms. Tracy—who runs the International Coalition for Drug Awareness out of her home in West Jordan, Utah—might be all any dispassionate observer would need to know about Oliver DeMille’s “improved educational techniques,” his foray into homeschooling needs to be explored. Although the printout inserted into my copy of New World Order gave DeMille’s address for ordering other materials, the book itself gave the address for AHEAD, the American Home Educators Association Database, a newsletter edited by DeMille’s co-author, Keith Lockhart. It would appear that AHEAD was DeMille’s introduction to homeschooling as he was too young to actually be a homeschooling parent in 1992—remember, he had only returned from his Mormon mission in September of 1989.
Remember also that when DeMille began as the sole “professor” of George Wythe College, the actual time he’d spent as a college student—whether at BYU before dropping out, or buying a diploma-mill bible school degree, or attaining a diploma-mill Juris Doctor within a year (or days), or whatever he actually did under the tutelage of his Coral Ridge “mentor” who held three diploma-mill degrees—amounted to only four years: the same amount of time most students take to earn an accredited bachelor’s degree. But according to DeMille’s Thomas Jefferson Education (1999), “Depth and breadth mean really paying the price to get [sic] great education, a superb knowledge base” (18). Jefferson earned a college degree at William and Mary and then read law and studied other subjects for four years under George Wythe—does it really need to be pointed out that Oliver DeMille did not receive a Thomas Jefferson education before he began supposedly imparting such an education to others?
Let me state that I have nothing against a classical education, classics, or mentors. Homer and Virgil were dear friends in elementary school. Latin was my choice as a foreign language in high school. And from college on I’ve looked to a number of men as mentors, including J. A. Leo LeMay. However, DeMille’s writings on homeschooling and education are slipshod and superficial. Just as with his degree acquisitions, he seems to have taken the fast, easy road. This doesn’t mean he’s not a smart guy. You don’t fool some of the people all of the time without having a sharp native intelligence, but as with his claims that George Wythe College is “the leading college in the United States dedicated specifically to building statesman using the methods which trained great entrepreneurs and leaders from Washington to Jefferson, Lincoln to Churchill, and Gandhi to Martin Luther King,” DeMille tends to be an intellectual name-dropper rather than a thoughtful educator. He paints with a big brush dipped in real educators’ ideas, but the result is more Jackson Pollack than Rembrandt.
For example, he begins chapter three, “Thomas Jefferson Education: How to Mentor” thus:
Find a great leader in history and you will find two central elements of their education—classics and mentors. From Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington to Gandhi, Mohammed, Moses, Buddha and Jesus Christ, from Newton to John Locke to Abigail Adams and Joan of Arc—great men and women of history studied other great men and women. Whatever the culture, look at its greatest leaders and you will almost always find that they were guided by at least one mentor and made a lifetime study of classic works.Joan of Arc was illiterate. As for a lifelong study of the classics, she was dead at nineteen—a short study period even if she had been able to read. Buddha, according to his biographers, put aside his culture’s classics as they did not offer what he sought. His supposed enlightenment was through taking a different path than what his teachers and studies had offered. Jesus would appear to have surpassed the Rabbis of Jerusalem by at least age twelve. There is no indication in scripture that he ever needed to consult or study the “classics” during his ministry. And who was His mentor? DeMille sounds good on first reading, but he’s long on flash and short on substance.
In order to sell his bill of goods, DeMille frequently throws out Jefferson as if just making a statement using his name stamps it with some kind of imprimatur. He writes in Thomas Jefferson Education:
[Jefferson’s] education was such that President John F. Kennedy, at a White House dinner honoring a host of Nobel Prize winners, describe the guests as: The most extraordinary collection of talent and human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House—with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. (18)But was John Kennedy really making an observation about Jefferson’s “education” or his extraordinary intellect? Obviously, the latter. That Jefferson’s array of human knowledge might have matched that of those collected geniuses dining with President Kennedy could not have been achieved without that one ingredient. Oliver DeMille claims to have made a great study of the classics while being mentored, but to paraphrase the late Lloyd Benson, “He’s no Thomas Jefferson.” While Jefferson’s mode of education was fairly typical in his day for wealthy young men (and let’s not forget the element of wealth in Jefferson’s education), he could never have achieved all he did without his vastly superior, god-given intellect. As a matter of fact, I suspect that had Thomas Jefferson been born in our era, gone to public schools, and been educated at a modern university, his star would have eventually risen in one field or another—or in several. His was the kind of mind that would reach great heights in any generation.
Truman Capote is considered one of America’s great writers of the last century. He was abandoned by his parents at six, dropped out of high school, apprenticed with a fortune teller, and began his literary career as an office boy at the New Yorker. Is there a homeschool parent who would argue that to produce an author of a ground-breaking novel such as In Cold Blood one should abandon one’s child and see to it that he quits school, studies with a “gypsy” mentor, and seeks employment in a magazine’s office? It is just as preposterous to believe that just any child will approach Jefferson’s greatness by emulating his education.
Is this to imply anything negative about the abilities of Jefferson’s mentor, George Wythe? Certainly not. But invoking his name repeatedly does not make homeschooling mom’s George Wythes. Strip away everything else and DeMille’s simplistic model is teach the classics and be George Wythe to your kids.
How do you do that? Read the classics yourself and absorb them, then have your kids read them and you mentor them. Who’d’ve thunk it was so simple? In a speech transcribed in his book, DeMille declaimed:
But when the greatest leaders in history, including Jefferson, wanted to study Newton, they read Newton. Anything else just dumbs us down. Newton is hard to read, I admit. That’s what makes it so great. (28-29)Newton is so great because “it” is hard to read? Now that’s a true pedant for you. A teacher in the audience later asked: “Newton and Einstein are pretty daunting. Is there any way to get them in a more readable form, with modernized language? Is that acceptable?” DeMille replied:
The reason they’re in that form is because that’s how Newton’s brain worked and you need to know Newton’s brain if you are truly going to understand the great ideas he was explaining. So don’t get them in a more readable format, take them on. (31)Neither public school teachers nor homeschool moms need to know how Newton’s brain worked in order to teach the Calculus or grasp his other contributions to math and science. But, if DeMille is to be believed, one would have to read, say, his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in the original Latin to learn how Newton’s brain actually worked. Otherwise, you’ll only learn how Newton’s brain worked as filtered through a translator’s brain. However, I suspect most homeschool kids will have graduated before their moms first learn Latin well enough to read Newton in the original. As we used to say in college, “That’s D-U-M.”
But there’s another reason “they’re in that format”: Newton didn’t want the average guy (or homeschool mom) to understand his work. According to Caltech's Mordechai Feingold, “Newton boasted he’d made the Principia purposely difficult in order to stave off ‘smatterers’ in mathematics.” Professor Feingold specializes in the history of 17th- and 18th-centuray science and was curator of 2005’s Newton exhibit at the Huntington Museum.
It was Dr. Jay L. Wile who pointed out Newton’s intentional obfuscation to me and cited Dr. Feingold. Dr. Wile is a nuclear chemist who founded Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. His Creation-based science programs are hugely popular with homeschoolers and Christian schools. I don’t think Dr. Wile would agree that bypassing Newton’s works in favor of others explaining his achievements is dumbing down. He wrote the following when I asked him about reading Principia Mathematica:
Yes, I did read that tome. The ONLY reason I could make my way through it was that I knew the physics and math already. Had I not known what he was writing about, I would have NEVER understood it.I suspect that Oliver DeMille, if he actually ever read Principia Mathematica, much less understood it, was not nearly as prepared to grasp the math and physics as Dr. Wile, even with Cleon Skouson and a pair of Baptist preachers as mentors.
Learning a foreign language? Why it’s a snap with DeMille’s methodology:
Do you want to learn Spanish? Read the Bible in Spanish, or if you can’t in your school, read Don Quixote. If you want to learn Russian read War and Peace in Russian. Read the classics in those languages. That is the best and quickest way to learn it, and when I say “quickest”, [sic] I mean native-level, culturally rich, comprehension and fluency. (29)That’s very interesting, because I was told by a homeschooling mom whose two grown daughters are taking correspondence courses from George Wythe College that GWC uses Power-glide language courses. As a matter of fact, former BYU professor Dr. Robert Blair, the creator of Power-glide, is listed among GWC’s adjunct faculty. I have read each and every Power-glide program and can assure the reader that you won’t find Cervantes or Dostoevsky anywhere in Power-glide’s pages.
Beginning in 2004, I edited the Power-glide programs for Alpha Omega Publications. AOP had purchased the rights to sell Power-glide in Christian markets and hired me as a consultant because I had discovered and publicized the fact that Blair had worked in hidden Mormon motifs into the Power-glide materials (most of which were first copyrighted by the LDS Church’s Deseret Book Co.) and used a self-styled occult methodology called suggestopedy, a subliminal method developed as a byproduct of research done in Bulgaria on psychic spying during the Cold War. Suggestopedy promises that the practitioner can run hidden information past the ordinary critical filters of the student’s brain without the student realizing it.
I suspect Jefferson did not begin learning Spanish by picking up Cervantes. However, logic tells me he could not have learned the ten Native American dialects DeMille says he spoke (18) by picking up classics in those languages—the Native American tribes whose dialects Jefferson spoke had no written language.
I sent DeMille’s quote regarding foreign language teaching to Dr. Harris Winitz and asked for his opinion. Like Dr. Wile, Dr. Winitz is a former college professor (retired from the University of Missouri) who has created programs used by many homeschoolers (The Learnables). Dr. Winitz is a noted scholar, the author of numerous articles in the field of linguistics. Besides the many Learnables texts and recordings, his books include Human Communication and Its Disorders, vols. I-IV, Comprehension Approach to Language Teaching, Comprehension and Problem Solving as Strategies for Language Training, Spontaneous Descriptions, Language through Pictures, Native Language and Foreign Language Acquisition, vol. 379 (editor), et al. Dr. Winitz responded, “I don't really know what to say except what [DeMille] says is nonsense.”
How nonsensical? Look at it this way: Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote de la Mancha, was a contemporary of Shakespeare’s—as a matter of fact, both died the same year, 1616. Imagine telling a Spanish speaker to read Shakespeare in order to get native-level, culturally rich, comprehension and fluency in modern English! Forsooth, all I can say to DeMille’s theory is:
Oft expectation fails, and most oft thereI offer such examples as Joan of Arc and Newton and Cervantes—and they are just a few—to illustrate that DeMille, while pretending to be deeply learned, is really, as Newton would call him, a “smatterer.” He tosses out Joan of Arc’s name as a lifelong student of the classics without bothering to check to see if she could even read. He pompously states that being hard to read makes Newton great, when the reality is that Newton is harder to read than he should be because he was an elitist who didn’t care to share his new discoveries with the average Joe. And, while Spanish may not have changed quite as much in the last 400 years as English, his glib suggestion to read Cervantes in order to learn Spanish is, to quote a noted linguist who actually can read Cervantes in the original, “nonsense.”
Where most it promises; and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest, and despair most fits.
On page 24 of DeMille’s book he entitles a section “Only Accept Quality Work.” He charges:
When students do an assignment, either say ‘great work’ or ‘do it again.’ You can help them, but have them do most of the work and never accept a low quality submission or performance. Wythe was very demanding this way with Jefferson.
Actually, I suspect this was never an issue between Thomas Jefferson and George Wythe. But where was this philosophy when George Wythe College gave Ann Blake Tracy a Ph.D. for having self-published a book replete with “spelling and punctuation errors and incomplete sentences”?
Two pages later, DeMille tells educators to “Set the Example” (or put another way, practice what you preach). Perhaps this is the best reason for anyone—Mormon, Christian, or what have you—to disregard DeMille as an educator. The example he has set is one of obfuscation and inconsistency—to find out anything concrete about the man one almost needs to be a private detective. He has built a career on diploma-mill degrees and claims of superior mentorship in the classics from a college that cannot seem to master simple subject/verb agreement. His own “institution” has followed his alma mater in the practice of handing out Ph.D.’s for zero work done under its auspices (and if it weren’t for a diligent judge, there might be a child rapist walking free because of that practice). Some example!
But not everyone has the wherewithal to do private detective work. Since DeMille published Thomas Jefferson Education, a Christian homeschool mom has written What’s the Buzz about a Thomas Jefferson Education? She is also speaking at several homeschool conferences this year—presumably to promote DeMille and his educational theories. Unfortunately, the “buzz” Kerry Beck refers to does not include the buzz about DeMille’s diploma-mill academic history, his turn as a conspiracy theorist/prognosticator, or his championing of the Book of Mormon as the ultimate “classic” to be used in Mormon as well as secular education.
I hope it is now obvious to any Christian (and, frankly, to any Mormon) why Oliver DeMille is not a suitable educational role model. But my primary concern is not that homeschool moms will buy his book and overburden their kids with Newton or Cervantes—they’ll see the impracticality of DeMille’s little gems of wisdom soon enough. What I’m primarily concerned with is those who enroll their kids in DeMille’s non-accredited college because they’re impressed by his self-aggrandizing charisma or that he’s written a patriotic-sounding book that promises patriotic-sounding outcomes or by his impressive-sounding, non-accredited degrees (not knowing that for a few hundred bucks debited from their credit cards, they too can become “Ph.D.s”—with honors and transcripts—as fast as the mails will carry their diplomas back from the many “online universities” that advertise such deals on the Internet). Luring gullible students to his college, it appears to me, is one of the main purposes of A Thomas Jefferson Education.
So in answer to the question posed by the Buffalo Springfield lyric quoted at the beginning of this article: That sound you hear at Monticello, children, is Thomas Jefferson turning over in his grave!
“Traveling Speakers.” LDS Education Forum. 2001. 3 June 2006
Oliver DeMille. “Aristotle’s Book of Mormon.” LDS-HEA Conference. 2003. 28 May 2006
Introduction to “Leadership Education.” George Wythe Statesman.,” Vol. 4, Issue 5, Oct. 2000. 28 May 2006
In 2001, the applicable section (c) of Florida law chapter 246.084 read: “The titles of degrees issued by the college must include a religious modifier which must immediately precede, or be included within, any of the following titles: Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy. The religious modifier must be placed on the title line of the degree.”
“Political science.” Def. 1. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. 1993.
“Coral Ridge Baptist Universty “Faculty and Adjunct Faculty.” 2001. 28 June 2006
Michael Crowley. “That’s Outrageous!: Psst . . . Need a Degree?” Reader’s Digest. May 2005. 3 June 2006
“4-20-99 Statement of Mary Lee Warren.” 3 June 2006
David M. Bresnahan. “Government Inundated with Phony Degrees.” Worldnetdaily.com. 25 June 1999. June 3 2006
Paul Sperry. “Cut-Rate Diplomas.” reasononline. Jan 2005. 3 June 2006
“4-20-99 Statement of Mary Lee Warren.”
John Bear. “Diploma Mills: The 200-Million-a-Year Competitor You Didn’t Know You Had.” Quackwatch. 7 Apr. 2004. 3 June 2006
Shanon D. Brooks, “The First Fourteen Years: The History of the Founding of George Wythe College.” 5. 2005. 3 June 2006.
“Ph.D Christian History.” CRBU 2001 Course Catalog, 3 June 2006
“Ph.D Biblical Missions.” CRBU 2001 Course Catalog, 19 May 2001
Brendan McGuigan. “What is Mandarin.” wiseGeek. 2006. 3 June 2006
“Educational Opportunities.” 3 June 2006
“Doctor of Ministry” CRBU 2001 Course Catalog, 3 June 2006
Sara posting, 23 Jan. 2005, 11:46 PM. One Sixteenth. 3 June 2006
Anne posting, 26 Feb. 2005, 1:38 AM. One Sixteenth. 3 June 2006
“About the Kimbers.” Kimber Academy. 2005. 3 June 2006
“Several.” Def. 2a. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. 1993.
Rosiland Remer, “(Leo Lamay) Interview: Benjamin Franklin.” incharacter.
“Alison Award-winner is a Leading Expert on Benjamin Franklin.” UDaily. 2004. 3 June 2006
Zack Bowen is currently Chairman of the English Department at the University of Miami.
Paul Mouritsen. “Secret Combinations and Flaxen Cords: Anti-Masonic Rhetoric and the Book of Mormon. Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Vol. 12, Issue 1, 2003. 3 June 2006
Daniel Brandt. “Clinton, Quigley, and Conspiracy: What’s Going on Here?” NameBase NewsLine. No. 1, Apr.-June 1993. 3 June 2006
“Propaganda Poastcard of Martin Luther King, Jr., 1960.” In Search of African America: One Collector’s Experience. 2004. 3 June 2006
Mark Royden Winchell. “Canonizing Martin Luther King.” The League of the South Institute. 3 June 2006
Eric N. Skousen. “Eulogy for Dr. W. Cleon Skousen.” Latter-day Conservative. 10 Feb. 2006. 3 June 2006
“The Dark Side of the Moon.” Let Us Reason. 3 June 2006
“Tour News Update.” We Will Stand. 11Apr. 2001. 3 June 2006
“L. Ron Hubbard: One of the Most Remarkable Lives of the 20th Century.” 3 June 2006
“Meet Brett Ridgeway.” 3 June 2006
Elaine Jarvik. Depressed over Prozac: Antidepressants Dangerous and Should be Banned, Crudader Says.” Deseret Morning News. 22 Aug. 2004. 3 June 2006
“David Eric Wood v. STATE of Arkansas, Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III: opinion delivered September 5, 2001.” 3 June 2006
Herbert Thurston. “Saint Joan of Arc.” Catholic Encyclopedia. 3 June 2006
“Truman Capote.” 3 June 2006
Mark Wheeler. “The Newtonian Moment Arrives for Caltech Historian.” Caltech News. Vol. 39, No. 2. 3 June 2006
William Shakespeare. All’s Well That Ends Well. II, i.
Addenda to "Diploma DeMille"
Oliver’s Story: Do the Math
Since June of 2006, the following sentence has been added about DeMille to “The First Fourteen Years: The History of the Founding of George Wythe College” (now updated “The First Fifteen Years . . .”): “With this intense study [“over eighty hours a week, sometimes more” at Coral Ridge], he earned a B.A. in Biblical Studies and an M.A. in Christian Political Science.”
See p. 11of:
In the past, DeMille has always claimed a master’s in just plain “Political Science” (see second URL below). It should be obvious that my revelations re the laws regarding exempt Florida religious schools prompted this sudden change in his degree title after all of these years. (Whether we can agree or not on whether political science is actually a secular field, I think we can agree that if the field of Christian Political Science actually exists, it is not the same as political science—so DeMille’s master’s degree claims in the past have been, at best, misleading.)
Until this new addition to DeMille’s ever-evolving curriculum vitae, he has always claimed to have four earned degrees. See this 2001 entry on GWC’s site where it states that “He holds four earned academic Degrees [sic] :
[Archived link good as of June 13, 2008.]
Those four so-called earned degrees are specified on this 2001 GWC web page:
http://web.archive.org/web/20010412130203/http://www.gwc.edu/Newsletter/00-10/newsletter.html [Archived link good as of June 13, 2008.]
It states there (I've added the numbers and bracketed note):
So why not five earned degrees? I think it stretches credulity to believe that someone who admits to carrying a degree on his resume for a year from a Nevada Bible College that sent him said degree and a transcript for doing no work whatsoever would fail to mention an earned degree in Biblical Studies from CRBU for so long.
And remember, this man claimed to have earned a Juris Doctor degree from what he now admits was a low-quality diploma mill. Would he, year after year, have failed to list a B.A. degree from Coral Ridge, which he still maintains (contrary to all evidence and common sense) provided a superior education to Brigham Young University?
And please note the fact that the Coral Ridge degrees listed above in 2001 carry no religious qualifiers in the degree name—making them illegal under Florida law. Either DeMille was originally issued an illegal master’s and an illegal PhD or he lied about the degrees he’d received from CRBU (he now claims a PhD in Religious Education see note below).
In the past, I have pointed out to a number of Mormons that they could call BYU themselves and see that DeMille received his bachelor’s there in 1994—two years after founding GWC with only a master’s from Coral Ridge. Is it mere coincidence that DeMille suddenly pulls a fifth so-called earned degree out of his hat to make it appear he earned a B.A. from CRBU before getting his master’s?
And what about the time factor? At best, DeMille had little over a year (less depending on which story of theirs you believe) after leaving BYU to earn any degrees before founding GWC in 1992. Now he not only “earned” a master’s which he studied eighty-plus hours a week for AND a Juris Doctor degree, but also a B.A. in Biblical Studies, as well! And isn’t it curious that CRBU seemed to know nothing in 2001 about this degree DeMille now claims he earned from them? That year DeMille is listed among CRBU’s adjunct faculty, however his CRBU BA in Biblical Studies is nowhere to be found in the curriculum vitae CRBU gives for DeMille.
But that’s not all DeMille claims to have been doing during his college days. While he was working eighty-plus hours on his B.A., and studying eighty-plus hours for his masters, and studying enough law at a diploma mill to then teach PhD level courses as GWC’s “James Madison Professor of Law” and confer PhD’s in Constitutional Law upon others, he seems to have had a very full schedule outside of attending college. According to the bio. in the book he published the same year he founded George Wythe College:
“OLIVER DEMILLE is a professional researcher and lecturer who has written books and articles on subjects including international politics, economics, improved educational techniques, the Constitution, and alternative health. He is a former director of national Youth for America conferences and seminar speaker for the Institute for Constitutional Education . . . He is currently a research fellow with the Meadeau View Institute, Center for U.S. and World studies. He has written for Families for America Coalition and is co-editor of two popular newsletters.” (From “About the Authors” in The New World Order: Choosing Between Christ and Satan in the Last Days, Dakota Productions, 1992.)Doesn’t it seem odd that the very year he opened GWC and published this book, that his bio. contains no mention of any earned degrees or even something along the lines of “Oliver is earning his master’s degree in Political Science . . . “ or “He recently earned his Juris Doctor degree . . .”? Hardly one known for hiding his light under a bushel, this leads me to suspect that at the point in 1992 in which he published his goofy conspiracy theory book, DeMille had yet to buy a degree from either Coral Ridge or LaSalle of Louisiana. I think William of Occam would concur.
A FURTHER NOTE
In the ever-changing “history” of GWC—http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:fSLr97bIAV0J:www.gwc.edu/pdf/gwc_history.pdf+the+first+fifteen+years,+wythe&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&ie=UTF-8 —Oliver DeMille is now (at least for the time being) said to have earned “his Ph.D. in Religious Education with Coral Ridge in 1994.” Gone is the long-held claim on GWC’s web site that he earned a “Ph.D. in Education with Emphasis in the Education of the American Founding Fathers.” It should be noted that the capital letters in “with Emphasis in the Education of the American Founding Fathers” would indicate that this phrase was part of his degree title. It would seem that this title didn’t fit so well when “Religious” was added to DeMille’s degree title in order to make it conform to Florida law). [This change was not found in an earlier revision of “The First Fifteen Years” that contained the sudden appearance of Demille’s B.A. in Biblical Studies from Coral Ridge Baptist U. and added “Christian” to his supposed master’s in Political Science. That link—http://www.gwc.edu/pdf/gwc_history.pdf —has been disabled.]
DeMille’s faculty listing at the newly-named George Wythe University now carries this list of degrees with dates. He’s even now acknowledging that Aerospace Studies was his minor, not his major. It reads:
“He earned the B.A. in Biblical Studies (May 1992), M.A. in Christian Political Science (December 1992), and Ph.D. in Religious Education (May 1994) at Coral Ridge Baptist University . . . and completed the B.A. in International Relations with a minor in Aerospace Studies at Brigham Young University (August 1994). http://www.gw.edu/about/faculty_staff/odemille.php***
NAME GAMES: GEORGE WYTHE “UNIVERSITY”
According to an article in thespectrum.com former GWC CEO and president of the newly-named George Wythe University, Shanon Brooks, said the college had gained university status. What does that really mean? It simply means that Shanon Brooks registered “George Wythe University” as a business entity—a DBA (Doing Business As)—with the state of Utah’s Department of Commerce. In the same way, Oliver DeMille began GWC (as a branch of Coral Ridge Baptist University) by registering it as the DBA “Coral Ridge Baptist Church, School, Ministries, and *.” He later registered the school as George Wythe College. The three entries can be viewed using the Utah Dept. of Commerce’s “Business Entity Search” https://secure.utah.gov/bes/action/index
It should also be remembered that DeMille began GWC as “Coral Ridge Baptist University, (George Wythe Campus)”—at least that’s how GWU trustee Vicki Jo Anderson used to style her M.A. degree http://www.confettibooks.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=88543&CLSN_706=1218467686706c1f99540881754e391d .
Therefore, Demille’s school began as a “university,” changed to a “college,” and now is calling itself a “university” again.
In other words, it’s just a name game. As of this writing, (September 2008) all that’s actually changed is that a few shovelsful of dirt have been removed from George Wythe’s property in Monticello, Utah.
Which raises another interesting name game: George Wythe U. may be the only school in America to have chosen the location of a campus based SOLELY on the name of the town where they intend to build. According to its web site, the Utah town of Monticello was “named in honor of Thomas Jefferson’s estate” http://www.monticelloutah.org/ . Since Oliver DeMille is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education, and Jefferson read law under George Wythe, the school’s namesake, it would be absurd to think the choice of Monticello a mere coincidence.
This reminds me of the time I once took a short detour to drive through Oxford, Massachusetts so I could honestly—but jokingly—say “I went to Oxford.” GWU’s plans to build in Monticello, Utah has little more substance than that—but they don’t see it as a joke.
Although, come to think of it, there may be a better explanation. Given Oliver DeMille’s past habit of claiming illegal Florida graduate degrees, this further bit of information from Monticello’s web site could be a factor: “. . . so many fugitives fled to Monticello to escape the hand of the law in the isolated mountains and canyons that it became known as the Outlaw Trail.” (Again, as with having gone to Oxford, I joke.)
ACCREDITATION: In the same thespectrum.com article cited above, Brooks also claimed the university was in the last stage of the accreditation process. I have corresponded with the vice president of the accreditation agency. George Wythe College (he knew nothing about the name change) will be visited by the accreditation committee in October 2008. IF GWC receives accreditation, it will be for bachelor degrees only. Further, no degrees conferred prior to any future accreditation of GWC/GWU will be considered accredited retroactively.
HUM. D.inger: More Silliness
(16 Sept. 2008)
I finally looked at George Wythe College co-founder Rev. Don N. Sills's CV at GWU's site. http://www.gw.edu/about/faculty_staff/dsills.php (This wasn't up when I wrote "Diploma DeMille," and Sills never responded to my questions re his education.) Why am I not surprised that he was one of Oliver DeMille's "excellent" mentors? My comments follow his entry:
DONALD NEIL SILLS,
DD, Hum.D, M.Th.
1957 - 2008
North Eastern Oklahoma A&M - Miami, Ok.
University of Georgia - Augusta, Georgia
Louisiana College - Alexandria, La.
Baptist Bible College - Springfield, Mo.
California Graduate School of Theology Glendale, California
Coral Ridge Baptist University, Jacksonville,
May 1972 Doctor of Divinity, California Christian University
May 1982 Master of Theology, Calif. Grad. School of Theology
June 1986 Doctor of Humanities, Coral Ridge Baptist Univ.
Notice that although Sills lists several accredited colleges under "EDUCATION," he doesn't seem to have graduated from any of them (at least DeMille eventually got a real bachelor's degree from BYU).
It would appear that Sills's first non-accredited degree came from a "university" that wasn't even worth mentioning under his "EDUCATION," California Chirstian U. That's understandable; this is all I found on the web re this so-called university: <
And he received a doctorate first without bothering with a bachelor's or master's degree. (It wouldn't surprise me if a bachelor's degree with an appropriate date from Coral Ridge Baptist U. soon appears out of nowhere, as it did for DeMille.) Is there any doubt that California Christian U. was a diploma mill?
Then, ten years later, Sills gets his master's degree from another non-accredited school. If you look down at his "FORMER POSITIONS" (at the GWU URL above) he was "Vice-President: California Graduate School of Theology." It's always handy to work for the school that hands you a degree.
The Doctor of Humanities degree is an honorary degree and doesn't really belong in the "EDUCATION" section of a CV. Of course, Sills got it from the same non-accredited school that gave Oliver DeMille his honorary Doctor of Laws degree (which DeMille doesn't mention any more since word spread that his so-called earned Juris Doctor degree came from a non-accredited diploma mill). And, naturally, Sills has long been associated with Coral Ridge Baptist University and lists it under his "CURRENT BOARD MEMBER" section. It's not really much of an honor when your pals at a low-quality school like CRBU (see "Diploma DeMille") give you such a degree.
By the way, it's "D. Hum" (Doctor of Humanities), not "Hum. D." (Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if CRBU actually called it a "Hum. D"—that would be par for their courses!)
SUBTLE CHANGE SLIPPED INTO TJEd
Here’s another piece of evidence from A THOMAS JEFFERSON EDUCATION to add to Oliver DeMille's ever-changing story. On page 22 of the 2000 edition (I reference the 1999 "MANUSCRIPT" copy in "Diploma DeMIlle") Oliver DeMille writes:
'Ten years ago, I asked the same question. Having graduated with nearly straight "A's" from both high school and a respected private university, I faced a dilemma. I had scholarships, career opportunities, and "great expectations" (though I didn't know what that meant at the time), but I knew something that none of my professors or academic counselors seemed to understand: I didn't have an education. I had impressive grades and a prestigious diploma and some skills and talents, but I really didn't have an education - and I knew it.'This has been changed in the 2006 "Anniversary Classic Edition" to:
'Years ago, I asked the same question. Having studied with nearly straight "A's" in both high school and a respected private university, I faced a dilemma . . . I had impressive grades and was on track for a respected diploma and some skills and talents . . .' (p. 15)Well before publishing "Diploma DeMille" I had disseminated most of my findings regarding DeMille to Utah and Idaho homeschool groups. This initiated heated internet debate about DeMille's qualifications. But one fact was not dabatable: he had not graduated from BYU (the "respected private university") until 1994, two years after founding George Wythe College. So the lie about his having graduated from college before facing his so-called dilemma had to be rewritten to conform to what had become common knowledge.
But this throws a monkey wrench into his current story. Because in the past he claimed to have first graduated from BYU, he then claimed to have gotten ONLY a master's and PhD from Coral Ridge Baptist University (CRBU). He listed those three degrees and his Juris Doctor (without naming the law school: the infamous diploma mill LaSalle U. of Louisiana) as his "four earned degrees" until more recently.
Because it was discovered that he had not received a BA before getting his CRBU degrees (except for the unearned BA in Biblical Studies from a Las Vegas diploma mill he acknowledges keeping on his resume for a year), another CRBU degree has appeared after all of these years. DeMille now claims he first took a BA in Biblical Studies from CRBU (May 1992), then his master's from CRBU seven months later (Dec. 1992), a PhD from CRBU (May 1994), and, finally, a BA from BYU (August 1994). Gone is the fake Juris Doctor from his faculty entry on GWU's web site https://gwc.edu/about/faculty_staff/odemille.php .
And since his previous "four earned degrees" days, his master's has been changed from "Political Science" to "Christian Political Science" (whatever that is) and his PhD has morphed from "Education" "with an Emphasis in the Education of the American Founding Fathers" to a "PhD in Religious Education." The religious qualifiers were added to his degrees after I broadcast the fact that Florida "religious exempt" schools like CRBU were required by law to put religious qualifiers in all of their degree titles.
Even if this latest incarnation of DeMille's CV is (finally) the actual one, it shows something very interesting. It would mean he started GWC in September of 1992 (the current date given) with only a BA in Biblical Studies from CRBU to qualify him as the sole "professor" at this liberal arts institution. Given the unbelievably low standards of his non-accredited alma mater, CRBU (see "Diploma DeMille"), this seems more like kids "playing school."
Worse, if the 1991 GWC founding date DeMille gives in the 2006 interview with THE LINK is accurate (see URL below), then he had NO degrees (except, perhaps, his admitted Las Vegas Bible school diploma mill degree): http://web.archive.org/web/20010412130203/http://www.gwc.edu/Newsletter/00-10/newsletter.html
BTW, in THE LINK interview, DeMille says he began looking for grad schools (other than the school he was attending, BYU) and finally found one that would allow him to study the education of the founding fathers (CRBU). But the story now is that he got a BA from CRBU before starting his graduate work.