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Southern Baptists reprimand top official over Trayvon Martin remarks
Richard Land is the public policy chief for the Southern Baptist Convention.
June 1st, 2012
02:06 PM ET

Southern Baptists reprimand top official over Trayvon Martin remarks

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com

(CNN) – The country’s largest evangelical Christian denomination on Friday announced it is reprimanding one of its top officials over comments he made regarding the Trayvon Martin case, pledging to cancel the official’s national radio show.

The trustee committee of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission announced two reprimands on Friday for Richard Land, who leads public policy efforts for the Southern Baptists, according to the official press arm.

The first reprimand was for remarks Land - one of the country's most powerful evangelical leaders - made about the Martin case. The second was because Land lifted some remarks from another source on his radio show without using attribution.

The commission will move to terminate Land’s radio program, “Richard Land Live!” because of the controversy, the Baptist Press reported.

In March, Land spoke of African-American activists and the Rev. Al Sharpton as “racial ambulance chasers” in the Martin case, in which the 17-year-old was shot to death in Florida by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

“When there is violence it’s going to be Jesse Jackson’s fault,” Land said on his show, according to the Religion News Service. “It’s going to be Al Sharpton’s fault. It’s going to be Louis Farrakhan’s fault, and to a certain degree it’s going to be President Obama’s fault.”

On Friday, the trustee executive committee said in a statement that Land’s comments were “very hurtful and offensive to the Trayvon Martin family and too 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," the statement said.

The Religion News Service reported that many of Land’s remarks about the Martin case were lifted from a March column in the Washington Times.

“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,” the statement from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said.

The statement went on to say that “plagiarism occurred because of Land’s carelessness and poor judgment."

In announcing the planned termination of Land’s radio program, the committee said “the content and purpose” of the program are “not congruent with the mission of the ERLC.”

In a statement to the Baptist Press, Land – who earlier apologized for his comments - said he believes in “trustee oversight and governance” and that “this whole process was conducted in a Christian manner by Christian gentlemen.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity

soundoff (747 Responses)
  1. Thing is that

    Jesse and Al ARE racial ambulance chasers. Neither are "reverends". They exist to promote themselves and seek publicity. They don't involve themselves in "low profile" cases of abuse and injustice. Let a news camera show up, and they're suddenly the first line of defense. Right up there with that "One Call - That's All" ambulance chaser.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  2. Jill

    While I don't agree with all of his statement, the part about being "racial ambulance chasers" is spot on. Sometimes the truth hurts. But that doesn't make it any less true.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • lsgyrl

      It's his opinion and yours. Opinions are not truth.

      June 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  3. Norman

    It is a shame when a man is fired...for SPEAKING THE TRUTH! Sharpon and Jackson always seem to show up and stir the 'racial pot'. This nation is doomed if we are going to cower to political correctness rather than speak the truth.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • james dean

      Kinda like Glenn Beck?

      June 1, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Cielo

      And in THIS case the TRUTH is that charges were NOT brought against Zimmerman because he is white and he killed a young black male. If the colors had been reversed, there would have been a TON of police work donw to convict the black man. THAT is the TRUTH. While Justice may be blind, cops are notoriously color-coded.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • nbgb

      Yes, Like the ACLU, political correctness has way over reached it's intent. Sharpton, J. Jackson and others are always there to intensify a problem. This case is not racial and doesn't deserve any of this media or organizational attention. It will all get resolved in the court house.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • cm

      and President Obama also is at fault? That's what this bozo said in his sermon. When in doubt, let's blame the black president.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • lsgyrl

      You're free to tell your boss his wife looks like a troll. It may be true, but I'm sure you would be out o a job. It's smart to know when to keep your mouth shut.

      June 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  4. IdiocyIsTheLanguageInAmerica

    Southern whites are so backward.Pffffffff.Nothing like us progressive New Yorkers.Pfffff.They live in trailers.We pay $4,000 a month for a rodent infested shoe box room in NYC.Gosh, like white southerners are so backward.Like Billy Maher told me that.He's totally right.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  5. ron

    It's amazing that there are "hundreds of thousands" of African-Americans in the Southern Baptist Church, which is a church that was founded on defense of slavery. I guess it has tried to atone for that horrible history, but it has repeatedly refused to change the name from "Southern" which would make its public face more inclusive instead of so regional, and it would help distance itself from its dark history of defending slavery. Maybe this stand by its ethics committee is another positive step forward.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  6. N&W 1000

    Ahhhh...Southern Baptist Nazi Speech Police...go get 'em boys.

    SOUTHERN slave holding Baptists.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  7. IdiocyIsTheLanguageInAmerica

    Yeah, let's live in pretend land.Let's ignore the FACT that blacks have turn every major city into a war zone.Been to St. Louis,Philly,Memphis,Buffalo,or Cleveland lately ? Let's ignore the FACT that they make up 14% of the population and commit more than half of the crimes.Let's all live in pretend land with the gutter trash liberals.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • skarphace

      Or, we could all make generalizations about a group of people based on their race and pretend that we are not racists.

      How's that for 'pretend land'?

      June 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • JackPumpkin

      Low-class, violent, impoverished morons have turned some of our cities (and message boards) into war zones. Unless you have some magical theory about how melanin makes one violent, skin color has nothing to do with it.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • james dean

      See children, this is how you think and write when you don't finish the 7th grade.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Poverty has made the cities violent. If this concerns you so much, invest in a business to put some people to work instead of making arrogant remarks based on lazy, casual observations.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  8. Steve

    Fox News: Here comes your next 'expert' commentator.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  9. IdiocyIsTheLanguageInAmerica

    The only thing worse than ghetto thug trash is guilt ridden white trash who pander to the black community.They are worthless human beings who are below rodent vomit.It's always very funny to me when these wannabe's get beat up.Liberal whites are an absolute cancer who are pansy's.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • skarphace

      Go back to English class, please. Maybe you will pass this time.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  10. skarphace

    A 'good-ol' Southern Baptist White preacher making racist remarks? Say it isn't so.

    Trust me, if the 'south rises again', we will beat them down once again.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  11. IdiocyIsTheLanguageInAmerica

    Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson absolutely never do anything for money or recognition.They're perfect angels with halo's.Both have made the moon and sun with their bare hands.It's true.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  12. proud female dem in nc

    This guy is no Christian!!! He's just an ignorant, right wing bigot!!!! Just a southernn bubba pandering to the stupid right.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • IdiocyIsTheLanguageInAmerica

      You gutter trash garbage pile.Wash your hole.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Stuart

      Let's see the guy made remarks that you consider to be racist and ignorant. From that you gleaned that he must not be a Christian, has to be right wing and is a southern bubba? I am confident in your wisdom.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  13. jonborg

    No matter what one thinks about the role of race in the Trayvon Martin tragedy, I think we can show, through ample evidence, that Southern Baptist religion is merely an ideological justification for wealthy white men. If I was wrong, they would all be American Baptists.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  14. IdiocyIsTheLanguageInAmerica

    Waaaaa.Mommy I'm telling.The big white boogeyman hurt my feelings.He said Jesse and Al are ambulance chasers.If you don't do something, I'll hold my breath.Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    June 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • skarphace

      Waaaaaa. They took my radio show away because I made idiotic and racist comments on the air instead of just keeping them in my head like I usually do. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  15. TonyEEEE

    Sad to say, but he is 100% correct. I live in NYC and there is more than enough "black on black" violence in Brooklyn communities which goes unnoticed by Rev Al. He should be working within these communities to promote a better life. And heaven forbid he condem black on non black violence. But the momment a nonblack is accused of something, he is grabbing headlines.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  16. trex

    ...........all this HATE is coming from fox news..................all fake news knows how to do very well is SCARE people with limited minds.......................dont help fake news in the HATE BUSINESS, CHURCH LEADERS.....................STOP FAKE NEWS HATE......................

    June 1, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  17. IdiocyIsTheLanguageInAmerica

    What's wrong with what he said ? Jackson and Sharpton are ambulance chasers.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • sir_ken_g

      Your name describer you perfectly

      June 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  18. Right

    If the people who belong to the "black" community would stop reading racism into everything said, then maybe they could understand that much of what is said is exactly the truth -- regardless of the efforts to cover it up by punishing those who speak it! Jackson, Sharpton, Farakahn, Obama, all seem to be carrying a lot of racial hate if you ask me.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • sir_ken_g

      How much racial hate do YOU have? Loads it appears.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • skarphace

      Maybe if racists would stop making racist remarks, others would cease to 'read racism' into them.

      Just a thought...

      June 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • lsgyrl

      No one asked you. There's a reason for that.

      June 2, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  19. trex

    ............MY GOD IS ONE OF LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING, COMPASSION, AND HEALING. Some CHURCH LEADERS ARE THE EXACT OPPISITE OF THESE TRAITS, and must LEAVE leading the flock. STOP THE HATE CHURCH LEADERS.........it is NOT my GOD's way.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  20. amecass

    Ok, but why bring the president in this? Because he's black? Oh, he did say if he had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. Well, would he not? He is 1/2 black and he has a black wife, so would his son not look black? Why is it that just because the president is black, every word that is attributable to another black person, the president has to be associated with them? We are ALL not one person. No one is attributing Donald Frump's comments to ALL of white america. C'mon folk, let it go. Stop classifying ALL black people as the same (other than the one or two you may know). Stop acting like you are experts on the black race because of what you see on Fox News, please.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • What Now

      Thank you for a reasonable comment. I would like to add that we should all be glad (black, white, red, yellow, whatever) that Land is being reprimanded for his stupidity. I look forward to the day when we stop lumping colors into groups and assume they are all alike. The reality is, if you have lived in the US for any length of time, you are not a true "color" of any race. Bascially, we are all mixed breeds!

      June 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Mark

      And I think it only fair we ask blacks to do the same. Rush Limbough does not speak for me, can't stand the twerp – we do not all think alike either. No one does.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Stuart

      Just asking, but wouldn't the comment about people watching fox news be a stereotype?

      June 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.