Richard Land, “ethics” spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, is doubling-down on his claim that the Trayvon Martin case is being overplayed by “race hustlers.”
His phrase: “race hustlers.” Who says that? I mean, besides white racists, is there anyone who says that?
The Southern Baptist Convention needs to fire Richard Land. Yesterday. Or sooner.
The problem with his remarks about the killing of Trayvon Martin, a black child gunned down with impunity more than a month ago in Florida, is not with the particular words Land used. He didn’t “misspeak.” He didn’t blurt out a single offensive phrase or two.
The problem is that Land’s remarks show that he is steeped in a racist mythology. It’s not his words that are problematic, but his worldview. That worldview is based on a story — a story of America, a story of Christianity — that is fundamentally, intrinsically and pervasively shaped by racism. This is the story that Richard Land believes and it is the only story he knows how to tell.
It’s an ugly story, and a hateful one. It’s a story about Us vs. Them, and about the need for Us to keep Them in “their place.”
That story — Richard Land’s complete embrace of and saturation in that story — disqualifies him from serving as, of all things, the leader of the SBC’s “Ethics” commission.
So the Southern Baptist Convention needs to fire Richard Land.
The fact that he has not been fired yet suggests that the leadership of the SBC shares and endorses the hateful story he is telling. Every day that he remains in his post — unchastened, uncriticized and wholly supported by the SBC hierarchy — is another day in which the Southern Baptist Convention presents itself to the world as a supporter and promoter of racist mythology.
The article linked above, by Heidi Hall for The Tennessean, illustrates the problem that Richard Land causes — the problem that Richard Land is — for a denomination that wants to be anything other than a resentful-whites-only club:
The Rev. Maxie Miller, a Florida Baptist Convention expert in African-American church planting, was incredulous when he heard about [Land's radio show]. He’s based in Plant City, Fla., about an hour and a half from Sanford, where Martin was shot, and has been encouraging dialogue about the case among Florida Baptists.
“At no time have I been embarrassed of being a Southern Baptist or a black Southern Baptist,” Miller said. “But I’m embarrassed because of the words that man has stated.
“I think the convention is doing a great job with diversity … but Land’s comments definitely will make my work harder – encouraging African-Americans to be a part of Southern Baptist Convention life.”
This is not a joke and this is not hyperbole. In all seriousness: The Southern Baptist Convention needs to fire Richard Land.