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. 60minuteman

    My last wife was a devout Southern Baptist. She got drunk every day, loved to dance, cheated on me regularly, and sang in the church choir on Sundays.

    June 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Christians have become the American Nutsi Party

      If religion made you a better person, the Bible Belt would have the lowest crime rates instead of the highest, and Utah would not have the major rape and porn consumption problems that it does.

      June 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  2. Christians have become the American Nutsi Party

    A racist Southern Baptist leader? What a surprise that the branch of Baptists intentionally formed to keep Jesus accessible to slave owners has racist leaders. Really surprising. Really. Just shocked. Really.

    June 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  3. KGB

    Not sure the delivery was right, but he is correct about some of the self-proclaimed African-American leaders. They do run to the hottest story and claim racism and justice when it's an African-American affected, but only if its race that perpetrated the victim. It is inciting. But I'm not sure were religion comes in on this, it's more of a media proclamation.

    June 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Christians have become the American Nutsi Party

      You know, the Right Wing "I know you are but what am I" kindergarten turnaround tactics just gets sillier and sillier. Thanks for the laugh. I love it when racists try to accuse others of racism.

      June 1, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  4. Really?

    What the Hell is wrong with these Baptists, specially the southern kind? One of these idi0ts said to beat up your kid because he's gay. Now this guy with his racial bigotry. Another one just said to kill the qu ee rs...Is this for real? What mental damage these people have to use religion and Jesus to justify their hatred and bigotry. They are insane and the reason why others are turned off by religion in general.

    June 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  5. Vewpnt


    June 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  6. Mark

    Hey Mojonaamdi- You can have the white women that I see with black men,

    June 1, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  7. cynthia

    i think he should have been reprimanded but i'm not sure he should have lost his show (i don't listen either way)...however, i don't always agree with al sharpton and jesse jackson BUT they have continously said that people should use nonviolence as a way of demostrating....but people always try to say "black folks" are going to act up...we haven't seen that so far in the Martin case....i think there is a lot of race baiting on both sides...though i have strong opinions on the Martin case- i would never be violent about it...i wouldn't be ugly and unfair...it bothers me that many people say Trayvon should have been shot just because or that Zimmerman had the right to stop him and ask him questions....neither is true....i don't know if Zimmerman hunted him down but i do believe he set the murder in motion...mistake or not...someone is dead and if this was your relative is it far fetched to say that you would be wanting justice of some sort?....i just think we have to be fair on all sides and not jump to conclusions...Zimmerman being arrested is the first step and right step – if he gets aquitted then at least he went through the system like everyone else did

    June 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • oscarsfilms

      That would be like a parent telling their school aged son . . . " You have gotten all "F"s on your report card, we very strongly disapprove of your bad grades. But we're not going to take away your Xbox, you can continue playing videogames and no curfew – you can continue going out at night!"

      Get it?

      June 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  8. Greg C.

    I applaud the Church for their oversight and taking action. While he may be voicing what many feel, it was inappropriate for him, given his role, to convey those sentiments especially when he should be espousing a doctrinal position vs. a more secular point of view on the matter. While it's unfair for the SBC to be viewed as a bunch of racists due to past injustices (regardless of denomination or for that matter because the SBC southern heritage), the SBC should hold its leaders to a higher standard. Again, I don't see this as someone overreacting and being PC, but instead, the SBC demonstrating it has a firm grip on what is right and just in the matter.

    June 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Vom Brunhaus

      Was in-appropiate for Obama to make his remarks also, dont you agree?

      June 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Vom Brunhaus asks "Was in-appropiate for Obama to make his remarks"?? Not really... I don't recall exactly, but he said something like "If I had a son he'd look like Trayvon"... Well, regardless of what you think of him, it's still a tragedy that so many young people get killed in this country...

      June 1, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  9. Mojonaamdi

    The main problem with white people – especially older white men, is that they believe that all of us Black men are taking their white women and they just can't stand it. Now, it is true, but hey, if the white women like it so, why should we discrinimate from spreading the love.

    June 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  10. oscarsfilms

    Here's a better picture of those criminals who are commitiing crimes AGAINST WHITES! . . . Only one black – all white.


    June 1, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  11. Jim

    This board slaps Lands hand and they think it's all going to be ok??? Get real. Land is a typical example of Southern (white) Baptist convention individuals. It just so happens he showed his bigotry, racism, and hatred in a religious forum, and got caught. I wonder how many other "leaders" of the Southern Baptist Convention hold the same beliefs and just haven't spoken publicly about them. The reason Land is getting just a slap on the hand is that those doing the slapping are afraid they might be overheard regarding similar beliefs, and get worse than what they are giving Land.

    June 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  12. Dee

    He didn't do any worse than Obama did. The President should have kept his mouth shut too. However, I feel the same way he does about Shaprton and Bros.

    June 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Bob Little

      Your comments are laced in ignorance at the highest level. Please take some time to think before you release your ignorance.

      June 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • tony

      Just imagine if there really was a just and loving god. . . . Quick lightning strike and this guy would just be a soot smudge on the sidewalk. Or if he was really lucky, the ghost of Christmas to come would be showing him his likely eternal accommodation. . .

      June 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  13. Mark

    There already was violence. Some "neighborhood watchman" saw a black kid in his neighborhood and killed him... Oh, you mean blacks harming whites Mr. Reverend. The only violence that matters to you and much of America.

    June 1, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  14. oureyescansee

    God forbid someone actually tell the TRUTH, its becoming a revolutionary act anymore. CNN is a lumbering dinosaur of the old media, the truth cannot be hidden anymore.

    June 1, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  15. oscarsfilms

    If anyone is interested, take a good look at the leadership of the Southern baptists Organization whom many here say are committing "RACISTS CRIMES AGAINST WHITES" . . . LOL


    June 1, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  16. LouAZ

    What would Jesus do ? Shoot or not shoot ? Hmmmm . . .

    June 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Well, some young men named "Jesus" are languishing in prisons right now for having used their guns... Does that answer your question?

      June 1, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  17. suzibee

    Now, can he talk to and remove all the other baptist preachers who have misspoken about gays these past 2 weeks?
    We ALL need to love each other. Its really not that hard.

    June 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • busy bee

      There's more money in spreading hatred (I give you Westboro Baptist, ladies & gents). We should tax religious cults like them instead. They have a long history of twisted dogma... the same cult was largely responsible for inflaming the 'slavery is gawwwwwds plan' dogma that led to the civil war.

      June 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  18. FOR REAL......

    This guy is used to people hanging on his every word. I hope this opens a few eyes and ears so people can see him for the racist chump he is!

    June 1, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Miss Demeanor

      You'll know the vine by its fruit. That cult church attracts so many hate-filled bigots, such bitter fruit cannot possibly be what God wants.

      June 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Miss Demeanor: how do you know what Vishnu wants?

      June 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  19. Jay

    This once again proves that religious leaders need to stay in their place.
    I am a Christian. However, I do not believe that GOD want me to impose my Chritians belifs on other, rather be a shinning star for others to follow Christ through free will and choice. Same goes for the Catholics Bishops who decided to stick their noses and government affairs. This nation was built on a principle of seperation of church and state. If religious leaders start to cross the lines and become political advocates, than we are in big trouble. You can't legislate Christianity. It has to come from within!

    June 1, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • allenwoll

      Jay - YOURS is the proper spirit ! ! !

      June 1, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  20. southernwonder

    when 46pct of americans still believe in adam and eve having started the whole humanity 4000 yrs back, we don't have much hope, do we?

    June 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Papa Pete

      You got that right!

      June 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • allenwoll

      SW - No !

      June 1, 2012 at 7:12 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.