Last Friday, the New York Times‘ Samuel Freedman reported on Teresa MacBain‘s new job. In the span of about 18 months, Teresa went from being a Methodist pastor who secretly didn’t believe in God… to the newly-hired director of the Humanist Community Project at Harvard, where she would help form Humanist communities nationwide. Along the way, she worked for the Humanists of Florida Association and American Atheists.
Freedman’s article included a section that I basically ignored when I first read it because it was just biographical information:
Finally, [before Easter in 2012] she realized her faith crisis was over. She no longer believed in God. The daughter of a minister, the product of a divinity school, the enthusiastic evangelist doing the Lord’s will, she told her followers that she was resigning her pulpit.
At the Clergy Project, where MacBain was the first Executive Director, the speakers list (still) reiterates that information about her educational background:
Teresa MacBain became a non-believer after more than twenty years of ministry. She started her career in ministry serving along side her father, a Baptist minister. She taught in Christian Schools, served as a worship pastor, associate pastor and senior pastor. Teresa received her bachelor’s degree from Samford University in Christian Education followed by her Masters in Divinity from Duke Divinity School.
After the NYT article was published last week, though, a Duke official contacted Freedman:
After Saturday’s article appeared, the executive director of communications for Duke Divinity School, Audrey P. Ward, contacted The Times to state that the school had no record of Ms. MacBain’s having taken graduate school classes or earning a master’s degree.
Ms. Ward wrote in a subsequent e-mail that divinity school records showed that Ms. MacBain attended a Summer Course of Study School in 2010. She took the first-year course of a five-year program for licensed pastors under appointment and working ministers that does not lead to a Duke degree.
In short, MacBain took a class in 2010 that wouldn’t have earned her a degree even if she took the remaining four classes in the program… but said on her resume that she had graduated with a Master of Divinity degree from Duke in 2005. Considering the program takes three years of full-time work to complete and MacBain’s resume says she was working somewhere else in the years prior to 2005, I’m surprised no one picked up on it sooner.
Two days ago, Freedman called MacBain to confirm what the Duke official had told him, and she confessed that she never really earned the M.Div. degree.
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