A state legislator from the Lowcountry is accused of misleading voters about a doctorate degree he received.
A new report by the Charleston City Paper published on Wednesday dug into the background of State Rep. Samuel Rivers (R-Goose Creek), who was first elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2012. Rivers is a pastor who leads The Voice of the Lord International Ministries outside of his Statehouse service.
On his House biography page, Rivers lists a Doctorate of Theology from Smith Christian University in Florida as part of his resume. The doctorate was also included on the bio for his ministry website.
However, when confronted by the paper, Rivers admitted he never earned a doctorate from the tiny unlicensed college. He said the school had instead presented him with an honorary degree.
Rivers answered all the reporter’s questions, but said he felt the issue of whether or not he actually earned a doctorate was not important to voters. “I have gone to school, different schools, religious schools and institutions, but I really wish we would stay away from things like that, and let’s focus on the actual issues, because that distorts the voters,” the City Paper quoted Rivers as saying. “The voters are unconcerned with a doctorate of theology.”
Rivers is running for re-election against Democrat Marian Redish this November. Redish is also a Christian minister: she and her husband both lead the nondenominational Life Changers Covenant Ministries in North Charleston. However, she also has an education that is difficult to track. The City Paper noted Redish attended Tabernacle Bible Institute in Jamaica, N.Y., but noted the only phone number listed for that school had been disconnected.