Travis Loller of the Associated Press follows up on the Richard Land scandal at the Southern Baptist Convention.
When I say “scandal,” of course, I don’t mean that the SBC, or Land see it as such. They don’t, and neither apparently do most white Southern Baptists or most white evangelicals, among whom Richard Land remains a respected and respectable member of the establishment.
But when the chief “ethics” spokesman of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination unloads a racist rant on his radio show, then says he stands by every word, then I think “scandal” is a necessary word.
Here’s a taste of Loller’s AP report, which will appear in papers today nationwide:
Land, who is white, said in an interview he has no regrets about his remarks. He said he understands why the case has touched a nerve among black leaders, but he also defended the idea that people are justified in seeing young black men as threatening: A black man is “statistically more likely to do you harm than a white man.”
“Is it tragic that people react that way? Yes. Is it unfair? Yes? But it is understandable,” he said.
The comments come as the Southern Baptist Convention is trying hard to diversify its membership and distance itself from a past that includes support of slavery and segregation.
Last year, the denomination for the first time elected a black pastor to its No. 2 position of first vice president, and the Rev. Fred Luter is expected to become the first black president of the Southern Baptist Convention at this year’s annual meeting in June.
When asked about the concern that Land’s comments hurt the effort to attract non-white members, Luter said, “It doesn’t help. That’s for sure.”
While SBC presidents are elected for one-year terms, as the head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for 23 years, the outspoken Land is arguably the most powerful person in the denomination and certainly its most visible spokesman.
“I think his (Land’s) statements will reverse any gains from the rightful election of Fred Luter,” said the Rev. Dwight McKissic, a black pastor at the SBC-affiliated Cornerstone Baptist Church is Arlington, Texas.
McKissic said he plans to submit a resolution at the SBC’s annual meeting asking the convention to repudiate Land’s remarks.
“If they don’t, we’re back to where we were 50 years ago,” he said.
… [Land] said he thinks McKissic’s resolution will fail.
“I have no doubt, based on the emails I have received, that a vast majority of Southern Baptists agree with me,” he said.
… Jonathan Merritt, a white Southern Baptist minister whose book, “A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars” is due out this month, said Land’s comments turn off not only minorities, but also many young believers who are “disappointed with culture war Christianity and want to move beyond name-calling.”
“I think Land’s comments reinforce, rather than rebut, the image of the SBC as a denomination of old, angry white men,” he said.
And here’s the extra bonus scandalousness: Land’s radio rant was stolen, uncredited, from right-wing columnist Jeffrey Kuhner.
Aaron Douglas Weaver documents the theft in a post titled, “Richard Land the Plagiarist: Top SBC Ethicist Stirs Up Controversy With Someone Else’s Rant.”
As this controversy continues over Richard Land’s rant continues to rage, I’d like to introduce a twist that thus far the media hasn’t picked up on.
Richard Land’s rant is not his. It’s a plagiarized rant.
Many of the words that he uttered during his radio show were taken verbatim – yes, word-for-word – from a Washington Times column penned by conservative commentator Jeffrey Kuhner. Kuhner’s column titled “Obama foments racial division” was published on March 29.
Land stole from Kuhner two days later on his March 31 radio show.
Weaver reprints Kuhner’s column, bolding the text that Land borrowed for his rant. Most of the column is in bold.
There’s nothing wrong with a radio host reading someone else’s column on the air. But it seems decidedly unethical to do so without ever mentioning that it was someone else’s words and not one’s own.
One more link to show that this slow-burning scandal isn’t going away. Here’s Alan Noble on “Citizenship Confusion: The SBC’s Richard Land and Charges of Politicizing Trayvon“:
Simply put, Dr. Land presents an incredibly deceptive picture of the character and concerns of black leaders. It’s inaccurate, and it’s wrong. …
Calling attention to potential racial injustices and acknowledging our differences does not feed the racial fire, but dismissing and condemning such calls as “shameful” and “exploitative” does. If anyone’s comments were “shameful,” they were Dr. Land’s. And as a Christian, a leader in the SBC, and especially as the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Dr. Land should apologize for his presumptuous conclusions about the intentions of our president and his deceptive portrayal of black civic leaders.
Demands for repudiation Land’s remarks and an apology from Land himself are growing. They’re also inadequate.
Richard Land needs to be fired.