Richard Land has been in the news a lot lately and not for reasons one would want to be in the news.
Land apologized for remarks made about the Trayvon Martin case on his radio show and then Monday apologized for his statements and for using content from a Washington Times article without verbal attribution. Wednesday, the SBC said they would investigate his remarks.
Richard Land’s racial remarks against the backdrop of the Trayvon Martin tragedy are the most damaging, alienating, and offensive words about race that I’ve read or heard, rendered by a SBC personality, in the twenty-eight years that I’ve served as a SBC church planter/pastor.
The pain that Richard Land inflicted upon Blacks in the SBC is a pain that would be only felt greater by the pain inflicted upon Trayvon Martin’s family by George Zimmerman. In his non apology—apology, he blames those of us who responded to his racial views, for the pain we felt. The opening line in his letter of apology, dated April 16, 2012, says, “I am writing to express my deep regret for any hurt or misunderstanding my comments about the Trayvon Martin case have generated.” He then blames his readers and listeners for not being “progressive” enough to be on the same page with him racially:
“Clearly, I overestimated the progress that has been made in slaying the ugly racist ghosts of the past in our history. I also clearly underestimated the extent to which we must go out of our way not to be misunderstood when we speak to issues where race is a factor…Please know that I apologize to any and all who were hurt or offended by my comments.”
Note carefully that he never acknowledges that the problem was caused by the substance of his words but rather by the misunderstanding of his words. He begins and ends by telling us that the problem was the response to his words and the lack of progress in the public square as it relates to understanding or accepting his words. This is a huge problem for the President of the Ethics Division of the SBC to attempt to pass this on as a genuine apology. However, I accept his apology simply because he asked; and therefore, feel biblically constrained to do so (Ephesians 4:32; Matthew 5:23-25).I remain appalled at his unrepentant words. And since Dr. Land will not repent of his words, I feel compelled to ask the SBC by way of resolution to repudiate and renounce the racially offensive, biblically unjustifiable and factually incorrect words of Dr. Richard Land. He spoke these words as an official of the SBC; therefore, the SBC must take ownership and responsibility for Dr. Land’s words. I could not with a good conscience attend a SBC meeting in the post Luter years, or increase giving to the Cooperative Program as long as Land’s words remain un-repented of. To do so would be to engage in self-hatred; the exercise and practice of low self-esteem; to support Land’s view of racial profiling and his flawed racial reasoning.
A Google news search will reveal that this issue has generated national news coverage. Some Christian media have covered it (e.g., Christian Century, Baptist Press), but the Christian Post, where Richard Land is Executive Editor has not.
When I searched CP’s website, I could not find an article about the story which has embroiled the Southern Baptists and led to an investigation of Mr. Land. The networks, national papers and AP are reporting it, even the Baptist Press is reporting it, but there is nothing from CP.
CP bills itself as “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website.” There is a front page story about President Obama’s giving (or lack thereof) records. There is an interview with a pastor who wrote a book for African-American women who can’t find single African-American men in the church to marry. But nothing on the investigation of CP’s Executive Editor and the fallout among African-American Southern Baptists.
UPDATE: Now there is a new story about the Trayvon Martin case, but nothing about Land’s comments, his apology and the fallout.