Baptists Reprimand Land, Pull His Radio Show

Baptists Reprimand Land, Pull His Radio Show June 6, 2012

Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), has been reprimanded by his own commission for making some outlandish statements about the Trayvon Martin story and for plagiarizing the work of others in his columns.

On March 31, 2012, Dr. Richard Land, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (“ERLC”) made statements during the Richard Land Live! (RLL) broadcast which were very hurtful and offensive to the Trayvon Martin family and to many in the African-American community, including hundreds of thousands of African-American Southern Baptists. Damage was done to the state of race relations in the Southern Baptist Convention. We announced our regret for those remarks, and we also commissioned an Ad Hoc Investigation Committee to address allegations of plagiarism that were made related to those same remarks and to commentary made in another RLL broadcast. The investigation proceeded with diligence. Dr. Land exhibited a very compliant spirit and was fully cooperative during the investigation. We thank Dr. Land for that.

The Ad Hoc Investigation Committee has completed its work and reported its findings to the Executive Committee. On May 29, 2012, the Executive Committee of the ERLC met in Nashville, Tennessee to consider the findings of the Ad Hoc Committee, as well as other related matters, and to review those findings with Dr. Land. The Executive Committee unanimously agreed to, and hereby undertakes, the following actions:

We reprimand Dr. Land for his hurtful, irresponsible, insensitive, and racially charged words on March 31, 2012 regarding the Trayvon Martin tragedy. It was appropriate for Dr. Land to issue the apology he made on May 9, 2012 and we are pleased he did so. We also convey our own deepest sympathies to the family of Trayvon Martin for the loss they have suffered. We, too, express our sorrow, regret, and apologies to them for Dr. Land’s remarks. We are particularly disappointed in Dr. Land’s words because they do not accurately reflect the body of his work over a long career at the ERLC toward racial reconciliation in the Southern Baptist Convention and American life. We must now redouble our efforts to regain lost ground, to heal re-opened wounds, and to realize the dream of a Southern Baptist Convention that is just as diverse as the population of our great Nation.

We further reprimand Dr. Land for quoting material without giving attribution on the Richard Land Live! (RLL) radio show, thereby unwisely accepting practices that occur in the radio industry, and we acknowledge that instances of plagiarism occurred because of his carelessness and poor judgment. We examined Dr. Land’s written work during the investigation, and we found no instances of plagiarism in any of Dr. Land’s written work. As a Christian, a minister of the Gospel of our Lord, and as President of the ERLC, Dr. Land should have conformed to a higher standard. We expect all future work of the ERLC to be above reproach in that regard.

Finally, we have carefully considered the content and purpose of the Richard Land Live! broadcast. We find that they are not congruent with the mission of the ERLC. We also find that the controversy that erupted as a result of the March 31 broadcast, and related matters, requires the termination of that program. We hereby announce that the Richard Land Live! radio program will end as soon as possible within the bounds of our contracts with the Salem Radio Network.

But since they don’t say anything to the contrary, I assume they are going to keep him in his position in charge of the ethics commission even after finding him guilty of unethical conduct. How convenient.

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  • Gregory in Seattle

    It takes a special kind of crazy for the SBA to tell one of its own that he’s crossed the line.

  • raven

    Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC),

    This is an oxymoron.

  • interrobang

    Note about the only passive-voiced sentence in the whole thing: “Damage was done to the state of race relations in the Southern Baptist Convention.” How difficult would it have been for the writer to say “Dr. Land’s statements damaged…”? It’s almost as though they want to apportion some of the blame to the people who were offended, if I’m going to be uncharitable about it.

  • omnicrom

    The damage was only because people called out Richard Land, not that he said racist things. The Southern Baptist Convention was created to fight Black Civil Rights after all, some of them surely tacitly approve of the “ethics” that Richard Land is pushing and are only SHOCKED because people got angry at his position and his racism.

    Frankly the best thing the SBC can do to improve “the state of race relations” is to dissolve and make an entirely new church, one that doesn’t have a long grim history of racism.

  • Eric R

    He’s about as ethical as this sort comes it seems.

  • Gregory in Seattle

    @omnicrom #4 – Your comment about the racist history of SBC surprised me so I did some research. Yup: the Southern Baptist Convention was founded in May, 1845, specifically because most Baptist organizations held that all men were equal before God, that slavery was a sin and called upon slave owners to free their slaves. In the early 1800s, a new generation of Baptist missionaries, hoping to develop a following in the South during what is now called the Second Great Awakening (roughly 1800 to 1870), toned down the anti-slavery rhetoric with some going so far as to endorse it. By 1840, many wealthy plantation owners had become Baptists because it allowed them to keep their “property,” prompting the schism and reorganization in 1845.

    During Reconstruction, many of the freedmen allied with northern denominations, often creating their own denominations to better serve the needs of former slaves in a hostile land (the mostly African-American Consolidated American Baptist Convention, now called the National Baptist Convention, is actually the second largest denomination in the US, after the SBC. The AME Church got its start at this time, too.) With most of its black membership abandoning it, the SBC membership became even more white, with most having to deal with the direct fall-out of losing their slaves.

    In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the SBC was notorious for its opposition to civil rights, with many pastors condemning to eternal Hell anyone who held that the races should be equal under the law. The denomination was instrumental in keeping segregation in place and issued virulently racist tracts condemning integration and miscegenation. If you think the SBC is filled with hate regarding same-sex marriage, you should see some of the stuff that came out after Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia: it really makes me regret looking it up.

    In 1995, the SBC adopted — very narrowly, and with much dissention — a resolution renouncing its racist past. Nonetheless, there remains a very large segment of the denomination’s membership who are devoutly racist.

  • abb3w


    The Southern Baptist Convention was created to fight Black Civil Rights after all

    …er, not exactly in the usual sense of the phrase. More exactly, they formed in 1845 to oppose Abolition and Manumission, and to insure that slave owners could hold offices in the Baptist Convention.

    That said, my understanding is it’s been a bastion of resistance to most social progress ever since.

  • Stevarious

    I assume they are going to keep him in his position in charge of the ethics commission even after finding him guilty of unethical conduct. How convenient.

    I’d make a joke about foxes and henhouses but really they’re just all weasels.

  • slc1

    I haven’t heard anything about what Land said about Mr. Martin but I have to say that the rhetoric, as reflected on various blogs, is atrocious on both sides of the issue. There is a virtual lynch mob mentality relative to Mr. Zimmerman on, for instance, Greg Laden’s blog.

    However, there is an interesting development relative to Zimmerman’s attorney’s request for a new bail hearing, for which he is now asking for a delay. IMHO, one possible reason is that negotiations are underway for a plea bargain which would involve him pleading guilty to 1st degree manslaughter.

    Another item which has sprung up is a brouhaha between the prosecutor and Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz. He had the temerity to criticize the prosecutor for withholding exculpatory evidence, namely the injuries to the back of Zimmerman’s head and to his nose, from the judge during the bail hearing. The prosecutor has threatened to sue Harvard, Prof. Dershowitz, and is threatening to file a complaint with the Massachusetts Bar Association demanding that the professor be disbarred.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    The evil genius of Trayvon Martin snares yet another Defender of the White People … who will fall next to this ungodly plot?


    Dare we hope that Dershowitz will proceed with his renowned legal consistency and demand the waterboarding of all concerned, including Zimmerman, witnesses, Martin’s family, and Sanford County law enforcement personnel?