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. xmatman

    This is but another example of a man who opened his mouth and proceeded to put his foot in it. He'll have plenty of company before day's end. 😀

    June 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  2. skarphace

    Teapublicans definition of race-baiting: responding negatively to a racist comment.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Where did

      "Teapublicans" get into this?

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

      Where Did: if Richard Land is not a Teapublican, I will eat my shorts.

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

      Exactly. Bigots swarm to articles like this.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Where did

      I don't know if he is or not, but that borders on profiling. And profiling a gateway to things like racial profiling.
      Slippery slope...

      June 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  3. Jody

    It bothers me when a leader (any leader) thinks that they are above or beyond being called into question. Dr Land's remarks were and are in poor character, even moreso coming from a minister of the gospel. It is encouraging that he did come under the authority of his oversight board in reguard to their ruling. How sad a comment for a minister.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  4. ClearAndPresentThinking

    Good to see that the SBC has retained some semblance of common sense. The downward turn in that department along with the non-Christian stance on Biblical inerrancy is what led me to leave that denomination nearly 50 years ago.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  5. Expatmom

    Conservative radio talk show hosts seem to be in a race to the bottom.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  6. MaryM

    And Zimmerman IS a lying poc. He just got his bail revoked

    June 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  7. Ike

    if you want your daily dose of ignorance just come to the comments section at CNN! you gotta love WHITE AMERICA! bigotry at it's finest!

    June 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Not Ike

      ^ Probably the most racist remark yet ^ *insert sigh*

      June 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Ike

      i'm sure you think so sir! if my comment is the most racist on here than your more ignorant than suggested!

      June 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • termlimits

      After that remark I guess "you's" a white boy then!!

      June 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Not Ike

      It's "you're", - and no, it is you that are pegging both the hate and ignorance meter (sir!)

      June 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • thinkbeforeyouspeak

      "white America bigotry" pot kettle much??

      June 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  8. Rob

    And in other news, the pope today said that Martin was a "hot little boy" who, if still alive, could provide lots of fun for local "god-fearing" priests.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  9. carlyt1

    Have to go with Bill Maher here and state that religion is a destructive and devise force.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  10. Norm

    He's one of the leaders, eh? OK?! I think I saw this guy last week at One Hour Martinizing. He was picking up a bunch of freshly starched white sheets.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  11. genebrady

    a hole.... looks like a Munchkin, does he not?

    June 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  12. Beetlejuice

    "... They are guilty as HELL. Why should this man be punished for saying so??? "

    Because it's an election year, and if you drag enough shrieking race-baiters through the trailer park, maybe enough one-track-mind voters will forget that nearly everything O'Bummer has done has been a failure....

    June 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • skarphace

      Beetlejuice: it is not Obama that keeps bringing up these racist issues, such as these comments on the Trayvon Martin case and the 'birther' conspiracy, it is the Teapublicans.

      So I ask you, who is distracting from what?

      June 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  13. Su Lynn

    Richard Land was correct – "Sharpton and Jackson ARE racial ambulance-chasers"! Sharpton will do anything to get in front of a camera! See, here in New York, we remember Tywanna Brawly!

    June 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • skarphace

      Lynn was incorrect. Neither Sharpton nor Jackson, and especially not Obama, are to blame for the violence played out between Zimmerman and Martin. Only Zimmerman and Martin are to blame.

      If Sharpton, Jackson, and Obama are to blame for anything, it is getting the wheels of justice turning once again and having influence over the decision to finally arrest Zimmerman for his role in the death of Martin.

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

      Er .. Land, not Lynn. My bad.

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

    I wonder if this fellow meant to imply that black leaders don't seem to do enough to discourage violence by other members of their race. I suspect he could have suggested they need to do more and not caused an uproar. But the way he worded that was all bad.


    Here is my quote. "I think people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, etc., should do more to discourage blacks, aka African Americans, from committing acts of violence." They should go on record as disapproving violence in any form.

    Martin Luther King did it and people listened. When his followers rioted and did damage they lost respect. When they marched in unity and demanded fair treatment they were respected. I guess his message from long ago has been forgotten because there IS a lot of violence committed by people.

    Come on Jesse, Al, Barack, step up to the plate. Tell your people they need to teach their children and their adults that violence in any form is counter productive to you being viewed as a person deserving of equal rights in this society. Say it you chicken livered, spineless wannabes.

    They won't do that. They are afraid they will be called "Oreo cookies". Black on the outside and white on the inside. I have numerous friends of color who are good, hard working citizens. They do NOT approve of the behavior exhibited by some members of their race. I don't approve of bad behavior from my own pale skinned race for that matter, but I am not afraid to say it.

    Where are the African men who can give other African people the guidance they deserve to make their lives better? If they are out there, would they please step up and be recognized?

    June 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • xmatman

      You make me laugh! When the followers (Black and White) of Martin Luther King marched in non-violent protest they were beaten and killed. You were watching the wrong movies!

      June 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • DJ in TX

      Your point is somewhat correct. There needs to be more black men in the homes teaching children. But Mr. Sharpton actually DID state he wanted no violence. He asked for an arrest and then let the justice system take its course. The NBP is an extremist organization. But I also didn't hear any non blacks last year ask for a stop to the violence when some white kids in Mississippi decided to f***k with some "N word) and ended up running over a black guy with a large pickup truck. IT was caught on a hotel security video. The kid stated "they didn't grow up like that". Then what made them decide to just kill the 1st black person they saw that night. It goes both ways. BTW – the president is president of the United States, not just black people. He's not an "African American Leader", he's the leader of all the country. When he speaks of non violence, it has to be directed to everyone, not just one group.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Mojonaamdi

      So Black leaders should stay silent and their people would get justice. Tell that to the Indians who lived on these lands long before your ancestors.

      June 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  15. nolongerarepublican

    Baptists are true Christians. They do not drink, smoke, gamble, or hate black people.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Morgan

      You should amend that to read, "Some Baptists........"

      June 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  16. woodofpine

    Al Sharpton has a P.T. Barnum quality to him no doubt. Jesse Jackson isn't perfect either, but the man was with M.L. King when he was murdered (probably by a Sunday School classmate of Lands). The bigotry and neo-fascism that is quitely tolerated in this country is scary. Politics on the radio... Lord help me! It's gotten to the point where it isn't funny or fringe anymore.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  17. doubleR

    Translation of the statement: "Even though Sharpton and Jackson ARE racial ambulance-chasers, we can't say that because we get a tremendous amount of money from black church-goers."

    June 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • RealitybitesU

      BINGO!!! You hit the nail squarely on the head.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  18. Brian

    This is one reason I quit going to church some years ago. I just got tired of watching ministers make fools of themselves.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  19. JoeThePimpernel

    The New BlacKKK Racists offer a bounty for George Zimmerman, dead or alive, and that's just fine.

    Let somebody speak the truth, however, and they must be destroyed.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  20. RealitybitesU

    So, what is the problem with his comments about the Trayvon Martin case? There has been violence against Whites, and it WAS because of the race-baiters he named. Can anyone seriously dispute that with facts? These leeches make a lot of money off of fanning racial tensions, and they tried Zimmerman in the open media with a small segment of truth and a large amount of made-up baloney. They are guilty as HELL. Why should this man be punished for saying so???

    June 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • RealitybitesU

      In fact, I SHOULD have said they tried, convicted, and tried to EXECUTE Zimmerman in the court of public opinion (to wit: the N.B.P. "reward" offered for Zim's murder). Such stupidity should be handled the same both ways. Can you imagine a White group offering a reward for someone's head? Those are the facts. He was just relating them to his audience. The S.B.C. Leadership just can't deal with it for some reason. Those members who are offended "because they are Black" need to get over it and do a better job of dealing with the TRUTH as well. Anytime you put being PC ahead of handling the truth correctly, you're in for it.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Morgan

      They only offered a reward for his capture.

      They knew fully well to suggest his murder would bring federal charges of conspiracy to commit murder.

      They were careful with the wording.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Ike

      uuum perhaps you cut class for AMERICAN HISTORY when whites for years had LYNCH MOBS after black folks, take the sheet off your head!

      June 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • DJ in TX

      You need to be specific as to what "violence" Mr. Sharpton or Mr. Jackson "asked" for. All they asked for was an arrest and they both stated the courst should handle it after that. Even the Sanford Police Department stated ALL the protest were peaceful. Now, I'll concede the new "black panther party" made some stupid comments and I DO NOT agree with them on anything they stand for. But Sharpton and Jackson did nothing to "incite" any violence. And they both have advocated for NON VIOLENCE.

      Now also be specific as to what President Obama did to "incite" any violence. But this reverend brought his name into it. Obama did not attend any rallies nor held any rallies. So how would any violence by his fault.

      So, who's fault was it when those kids in Mississippi (my home state) decided to go f***k with some (N word) and ended up running over a guy with their F250 truck last year? Who incited that violence, was it President Bush? Of course not. They decided on their own. God forbid anything happens, but if any violence does occur, it will be the SOLE responsibility of the individuals who commit the crime. Holding peaceful rallies, asking for an arrest and letting the justice system determine the guilt or non guilt is NOT asking for any violence. It certainly is NOT the fault of people rallying peacefully.

      BTW – you even controdicted yourself. You 1st stated that it would Jackson and Sharpton's fault, but then stated the NBP putting out the "reward" for Zimmerman's head. You are right, that is 100% WRONG and should be dealt with by the authorities. But that is NOT what Jackson and Sharpton asked for. The NBP is separate and has nothing to do with Jackson nor Sharpton.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
About this blog

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.