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. Truth4God

    The first baby step in casting out the devils of hate, Now if they get back to being a church and stop operating as a SuperPAC, America just MIGHT begin to heal the damage done by the "Bushpublicans"

    June 1, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  2. buffalochips0609

    How sad that today's Christian leaders make such absurd statements. Land is nothing more than the modern day Pharisee's, who claim to be so religious, but their hearts are not. Of course, Land probably goes out and shoots his rifle on weekends, thinking he has to protect his NRA rights.
    Completely disgusted with Evangelicals today! Why don't they act more like Jesus!
    How sad!

    June 1, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  3. niknak

    Be afraid white people, be very afraid.
    The hordes of blacks will come and take your possesions and sell your white children into slavery.
    Better vote repug to keep the evil non-whites at bey.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • buffalochips0609

      Especially when they cannot spell!!!

      June 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  4. Dean

    Classy move on the Church's part.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  5. pbernasc

    How much more is needed to understand that racism is rooted in the Bible?

    June 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • LC from NC

      And your point is ????

      June 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  6. proph

    although Land is a moron, in this case it doesn't mean he is wrong. In March, Land spoke of African-American activists and the Rev. Al Sharpton as “racial ambulance chasers”. he was dead on accurate with that remark.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • buffalochips0609

      I am sure that the blacks who stood up for civil rights, while getting lynched, were ambulance chasers – How ignorant can you be with that comment!

      June 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Daniel in Denver

      Agreed, and I don't think the 'ethics committee' was taking issue with the accuracy, just that hundreds of thousands of their members might be offended by them. 'Racial ambulance chasers' is a very succinct descriptor, mild if anything.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • sharky


      Go look at your calendar. See it says 2012, not the 1950's anymore. Civil Rights Act was passed and YES Sharpton, Jackson ARE racist ambulance chasers and Farrakhan is an extreme racist, bigot, fanatic.

      White people were civil rights activists too.

      June 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Keith

      You need to go "Back to the Future"

      June 3, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  7. Flavoter

    Many Christians tend to be total hypocrites. Look at evangelicals Christians and Romney not long ago Mormonism was and too many still is a cult like society. And Romney would have been tossed out on his ear again.

    But they are running straight to Satan's pimp. They chase the wealthy and forget their duty to feed the poor.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  8. Kevin

    ... but rounding up gays and killing them, that's still OK for the Baptsits!

    June 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  9. BinaryTruth

    Baptists have enough problems as it is. Just practice what you preach and that would be a start.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  10. Some Guy

    Sometimes the truth hurts.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  11. Honey Badger Dont Care

    This guy Gilgoff writes like a 7th grader. CNN, come on, you can do better than this.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • greg

      i don't see it,you got a beef with the guy?

      June 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • MikeBigD

      Ad hominem is 3rd grade level.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      I just think that a writer for a major publication should be able to at least write at the level of a high school grad. Its part of the dumbing down of America.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Empirical data vs received nonsense


      Marginal ad hominem at most. There are objective measures of writing that can be expressed as grade level suitability. It is entirely possible that the writing is indeed at 7th grade level.

      June 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  12. LC from NC

    "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,..................” WHAT A JOKE !!!!!

    It will be people like this Land person that will bust hell wide open. This group is a bunch of idiots and I thank God I did not have to depend on them for my salvation.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Note to Dr. Land – tip toe around the angry black people or they will get you

      June 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  13. dnick47

    The actions of the Southern Baptist convention are the first rays of light in a long time coming from the evangelicals. I am an evangelical myself so this is not a slam down.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Keith

      Why would you choose to be an Evangelical? Wouldn't life be better for you if you were a real Christian?

      June 3, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  14. glorydays

    Nothing Christian about these "Christians".

    June 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  15. Alex Johnson

    People forget that the Souithern Baptists split from the rest of Baptists during the civil war over the issue of slavery.
    In the Southern Baptist churches I grew up in there were maybe 1-2 African AMericans out of a congregation of a thousand or more.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Hurtful Truth

      VERY good point Alex. And VERY TRUE!

      June 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Empirical data vs received nonsense

      This is overt racism. Southern Baptist Churches pay lip service to racial equality but the gleaming white skins of their congregations say otherwise.

      June 1, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  16. just sayin

    Only use Baptists serve is food for the lions.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  17. tkogrady

    huh, I might get the Jackson and Sharpton reference, but by throwing Farrakhan (Muslim) and Obama (secular) into the mix, the only common denominator is race (as in racist)

    June 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      I tend to agree with you on this, Both Re. Sharpton and Jackson are opportunistic, race batting, cowards. So is Min. Farrakhan come to that. But Pres. Obama is as non-believing as I (as far as I can tell).

      June 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • concjo

      I tend to agree that he went overboard. I assume he was referring to the fact that Obama came out and said "if I had a son, he may look like Trayvon" before any evidence was heard. Thus keeping the racial engine fueled. I'm not sure what Farakhan may have said, but he's a hate monger as well.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Thinkstr8

      Double whammy...bigoted and hypocrtic!

      June 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  18. Voice of Reason

    I hope the public in general are beginning to get the picture with these all of these religious nuts.

    June 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • concjo

      When about 90% of the population believes in a god, you're gonna get a few nuts. I can't stand 9 out of every 10 people, regardless of their religious affiliation.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  19. Doc Vestibule

    When the American south was forced to rescind Jim Crow laws and accept racial integration, it was Baptists who most strongly opposed equality.
    Wallie Criswell, an extremely popular and influential Southern Baptist Minister famously said "Let them integrate! Let them sit up there in their dirty shirts and make all their fine speeches. But they are all a bunch of infidels, dying from the neck up."

    June 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Papaw Nick

      Dok, surely you know you should attribute to who you are quoting.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  20. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Apparently some Southern Baptists have not realized that Blacks have been allowed to join for a number of years now.

    June 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
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