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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. ipmutt

    Land has it dead on correct. Martin was nothing but a thud who attacked someone and got killed doing so. He is just another of the 20,000 that go through this each year. Nothing special except that Jessie, Al and Obama have tried to make this a racial thing. And they have. This is the most racist bunch of people and mainstream media outlets you will ever see. Shame on all of them and stop being racist bullies against people like land

    June 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  2. Tommie

    I will NEVER be Southern Baptist. PERIOD!

    June 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  3. Scott

    Well, he didn't say anything that wasn't true. But he could have found away to say it with grace.

    June 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  4. JomoDaMusicMan

    During the election when Obama was running. There was a White Pastor in a large church with a mixed congregation just between Cincinnati and Dayton OH. on a Sunday Morning he had the nerve to tell his congregation, "DON'T VOTE FOR OBAMA BECAUSE HE IS OF THE DEVIL" I think, some of the foolish blacks stayed but most walked out.

    June 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Post-Baptist

      And yet that church is exempt from paying taxes. (I would also guess that it was Southern Baptist except that it had a mix of races present and the Southern Baptists would NEVER have that situation.)

      June 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  5. OhDan

    agreed

    June 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  6. RandyT - CW

    Looks to me like Land is about that age to be of the Jim Crow-Southern Baptist style preacher.

    June 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  7. Ben

    You can't cry wolf all the time. What he said was not racist. Sharpton is a racist. He jadedly went there not to help the Martin family or for justice but to whip up racial strife for his own personal gain. If there would have been race riots, Sharpton would have been due some of the blame. If there is a not guilty verdict and there is violence, Sharpten will be due some of the blame.

    June 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      It's amazing that so many of u racist whites always wants to call out Sharpton & Jackson as a race baitor but never says anything bad about Rush, Glen Beck and Fox News

      June 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Sunlight99

      @ Jomo - actually Rush and Glen Beck are PFFFFT too. I think they should all be locked in a room together.

      June 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  8. Cameron

    There is an exception to every rule....I mean every rule...remember when God said that no idols or graven images should be worshiped? Yet, they all had to look to the brass snake on a pole in order not to die when they got bitten......multiple wives...adultery...remember when they worshiped the golden calf? a few hours after they were told not to kill, they were instructed to kill thousands that worshiped the calf. God forbid. No wonder the bible is not fit to be read in classrooms.

    June 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • AG

      Were you there when God said what you claim God said?

      June 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • James Ruston

      Cameron didn't have to go to God, AG. God came to him, don't you know.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  9. maine liberal

    I have always found it to be a contradiction that so many african-americans are baptists

    June 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  10. Bob

    Wow, the Christian et al bigots are out in force. Glad you don't believe your god knows about the trash you post.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  11. Adam

    Why do evangelical christians spend so much time trying to create and identiy their enemies?

    June 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  12. Clem Vinson

    wow, you mean southern baptists are racist? Who knew? File this article under "obvious crap you're already painfully aware of"

    June 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  13. penguin

    "Christian"- the only one word oxymoron

    June 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Qev

      LIKE!

      June 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Tommy

      True

      June 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  14. jms58

    It is about time someone stood up to the hate mongers.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  15. LOL

    He told the truth! Black people are panicking again.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Qev

      If you'd read the article (and comprehended what you read) it would be quite clear to you that it was his own "handlers" who "panicked"...black people, by and large, have no time for the ignorant ruminations of TRASH.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  16. Joe Smoe

    So what's the problem, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are know racial ambulance chasers, this guy was spot on..

    June 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • NicPayne

      When Black Americans have had the justice system turn their back on them throughout this countries history so someone has to stand up for their rights. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are just standing up for human rights for Black Americans. You can't beat a people down and not expect them to fight back at some point. you have to call racism when you see it because most times "others" cannot and why would they see it, they're not sensative to it. You have to S-P-E-L-L it out for them to understand

      June 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Cry me a river Nic

      Al and Jesse are just standing up for the bank accounts of Al and Jesse. You don't see them defending black injustice in low profile cases (no profit there). They arrive with roughly the same frequency as the news van.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  17. Sam

    Randy chopper, I suggest you follow your own advice and remove your racist, bigoted head from your posterior. Land's remarks are offensive and inappropriate, not to mention incorrect. He deserves at least a reprimand the cancellation of his show.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • guest

      Let's get real. It wasn't about "conform[ing] to a higher standard" of morals/ethics. It was about politics. The right wing's got to do what it's got to do to make sure it doesn't lose the support of black folks in the upcoming election.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  18. GUEST

    I remember when this organization stood for the truth. Now they are angry with thier own for speaking the truth.
    Mr. Land get out for that mess now and God will bless you.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Tommy

      Land is evil has no christian crideblity.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  19. Qev

    Ignorant Racist Trash...is anyone really surprised by this? Next?

    June 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • LOL

      You sound like a monkey on crack! Idi0t!

      June 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  20. Mike

    I am failing to see anything wrong with what he said. To call Al Sharpton and company “racial ambulance chasers” is the best description I have heard in a long time.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • guest

      I agree.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Joe Smoe

      right on..

      June 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Sean

      Its kinda sad that I have to agree with you, both of them jump at the chance to call racisim... while in this case it could very well be a racial issue that motivated the shooting you can always count on those two to make sure they're the 1st ones on Camera yelling "RACIST". Though pointing out the obvious isn't always a good thing to do on a national radio show.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • NicPayne

      I disagree

      June 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Brendan

      Apparently you did not notice that he criticized black people...

      June 1, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Tommy

      Including most white baptists.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:16 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.