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. hammer

    You can call and say what ever you want about Joe Biden because hes white.

    June 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  2. Craig Doug

    You know, I never thought I'd say this, but preacher man is spot...WOW! The world must be coming to an end...

    June 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  3. Esmenes

    Now– Tell me again which of these black men shot Trayvon? How can it be their fault when they are home in bed when this shooting happened? You'll never convince me that Zimmerman lost Trayvon and stopped and turned around and headed back to his truck. In his mind he was on his way to glory by stopping someone from breaking into someone's house or car. Just been watching his hearing on his bail (no money) and his passport (lost in a bank vault). He's obviously a liar from the beginning.

    June 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • viaquest

      because moron, he was talking about violence after the shooting stemming from the hate mongering by Sharpton, Jackson, and Fairakon like the new black kitty kat party putting a bounty on Zimmermans head , because they spent weeks calling a Hispanic man white because it would cause a racial rift, which is their agenda. then switching to a new never before used term " White-hispanic" when people realized he was hispanic , these hate mongers refused to let go of the "white" label . because Zimmerman being a minority put a whammy on their hate mongering towards white's. If a white kills a minority it's a hate crime racial in nature, it's profiling,ect.., but when minorities kill minorities it's not even news , ofcourse when minorities kill whites it's tuesday!

      June 2, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  4. hugh64

    Can't say I disagree with him about Sharpton and Jackson, who are both aggressive, myopic, sleazy opportunists. But dragging in Obama is too much.

    June 2, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Mike P

      President Obama played into the whole racial thing, too, when he said, "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon." That's no different from saying, "Every black parent should be upset over this because this happened to a black kid." Never mind white parents or white kids - I guess each race is only supposed to care about their own, right?

      June 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  5. kanawa

    What exactly did he say that was untrue?

    June 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  6. Herebrt

    Any words that may derogate from the Nation of Islam must be swifty excised from language

    June 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Answer

      It's better for the words to exist than the nation of islam to exist.

      June 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • hugh64

      Where in this article does it say anything about Islam? Jackson is an ordained minister.

      June 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  7. annebeth

    The Southern Baptist Convention has ALWAYS been about race and during the 1800's believed that the bible supported the owing of slaves. This is just a PR move so that they don't look as raciest as they happen to be, when in fact they have always been anti-black.

    June 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • The Joy of Unintended Consequence

      The Southern Baptist Conference was specifically created to have a form of Christianity that embraced slaveowners. It was created specifically for racists.

      So of course it has a problem with race!

      June 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the bible does support slavery.

      June 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • viaquest

      are you people really that against education that you believe what you type here? wondering how a branch of christianity that is largely Black such as Southern Baptist can be considered racist againts blacks in your eyes. you really will use any opportunity to play the race card wont you.

      June 2, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  8. dee

    Finally!! The Church speaks out against a member who has gone over the top. So often the Church is silent and by its silence ends up supporting those who exhibit unchristian like behavior.This turning a blind eye that the church has done over the years has greatly damaged its credibility. It's good to see that for once the Church stands up for what is right!

    June 2, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • saggyroy

      He was probably just saying what the rest of them were thinking....

      June 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  9. William Streich

    Southern Baptists will have a diminished biblical influence in the public square, however, they will have appeased the black community for now! Richard is right, just not PC enough for SBC leaders.

    June 2, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  10. Crocker

    I for one think Land is RIGHT ON THE MONEY! Land used his freedom of speech and now gets sanctioned for it. Land for President!

    June 2, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Sadie Boyd

      Of course there is freedom of speech...but, there is also freedom to condemn that speech...if I said something stupid in my public job, then I would be ousted too.

      June 2, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Wrath of Lucifer

      Crocker of sh•t is more like it.

      June 2, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • samantha65

      I would think that Christians would look to Christ for what to say. Would Christ place blame on others for a sin committed by one? Would Christ look at the color of one's skin be the issue for "blame". I am not a Christian, I am just wondering how a preacher would tie the teachings of Christ into his remarks.

      June 2, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Mary

      He is right.

      June 2, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • lsgyrl

      Who other than you cares what you think.

      June 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  11. yahmez

    This just isn't fair! If a man can't say something wrongheaded, how is he supposed to preach the gospel of Jeebus?

    June 2, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • slrman

      Oops, right in the ten ring! You'll get complaints and maybe threats of violence.

      June 2, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  12. WOT

    Church is about faith not the church you belong to!

    June 1, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • WOT

      That seemed to make sense when I wrote it, but now I have no clue what I was trying to say.

      June 2, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • WOT

      And YES! I'm a COMPLETE IDIOT!!!

      June 2, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • WOT

      Damn, I just could hardly believe I shouted it out

      June 2, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • Crocker

      Faith needs no building or church to thrive or prosper. It comes from the heart and the soul.

      June 2, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Sadie Boyd

      You are okay...organized religion is ruining the message...

      June 2, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  13. SAWolf

    Wow, say the truth and get slammed much? How many die in Chicago daily and where's that," Ambulance chaser ",sharpton ?

    June 1, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  14. Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

    “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.”

    Sounds to me like he's just calling a spade a spade.

    June 1, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

      Amusing that it won't be George Zimmerman's fault? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

      June 2, 2012 at 6:47 am |
    • viaquest

      @ " Sir Doyle , please for the love of your god don't use my family name to spout nonsence,Sir Arthur C. Doyle is my ancestor , i'm a direct desendant and he was far to intelligent for you to use his name i assure you! and he would have disagreed with you anyway.

      June 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  15. At death atheists believe

    100 million dead because of the insane atheistic leaders(most did in fact outlaw religion) during ww2.Atheists lie and say religion has killed more when ruthless heartless and cruel atheists killed in large numbers humanity as ever seen.

    June 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Failure to communicate

      Please name one person who killed in the name of atheism. Of course this differs from someone who is an atheist, thought I'd mention that before you thought of Stalin.

      June 1, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • At death atheists believe

      I said most leaders outlawed religion..perfect example in current world:North Korea.

      Name a few? I didn't say they killed in the name of atheism.I said they killed millions but were atheists.

      Nice try tho.Big fail on you for not reading what I posted

      June 1, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Failure to communicate

      Ahhhh, but you see you fell right into my trap. Just because these people were atheists, does not make them evil, these are just attributes about these evil people that you choose to shine a light on my friend. Stalin, Mao, Kim Jong-Il, these men did not use their atheism as a tool to rationalize their evil deeds. The same can not be said for religious people, whether they be christian, muslim, jewish, etc...

      So your comment might as well be that people with mustaches are evil because Stalin had one. Get it?

      June 1, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • tallulah13

      At death atheists believe what? That they're dying and have come to the end of their existence? That's sort of a given. Belief in an afterlife is the delusion of people who fear death. You'd think after thousands of years of no proof of any god, believers would realize that they should care more about this one life that they get instead of pinning all their hopes on an afterlife, which like their god, is unsubstantiated.

      June 2, 2012 at 2:13 am |
    • Answer

      When these creationists see their parents on their deathbeds and ask their mothers and fathers when their Jesus will come for them ... I will always laugh.

      June 2, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • You're a failure, INDEED!

      We, TRUE belivers have lesser tendencies to commit murders and other unpardonable sins than atheists because, we believe that aside from it is logically, morally and lawfully wrong to harm our fellow beings, we also believe that they are abominable in the sight of God. In other words, we we believe that in everything we do, we are answerable NOT ONLY by ourselves but ALSO to God. If our rationale fails, we still have faith in God that will enlighten, streghten and lead us back to our senses. Hence, they we will never do things that would harm others even if we are in the brink to do so and being motivated by any circu.stances and even if we are in the position and capacity to do it likewise the cability to get away with it.

      On the other hand, atheists rely ONLY on their own understanding and think that they are answerable ONLY by themselves. Then, what if it (understanding) would fail? What if they are getting push by an unfortunate circu.mstance and are in the position to do so and have the capability to get away with it?

      And to be honest, we TRUELY religious people are cherry-pickers of bible because we only follow whatever good things and examples written on it that would strenghten us and improve our lives. We ultimately disregard the opposites. Apparently, atheists do things otherwise.

      To conclude. Nobody commits atrocities in the name of religion but there's a lot of people that HIDE behind religion and USE the name of religion to justify their atrocities...and they are...the TRUE-BLUE & COOL BLOODDED...ATHEISTS.

      June 2, 2012 at 5:00 am |
    • Response

      "When these creationists see their parents on their deathbeds and ask their mothers and fathers when their Jesus will come for them ... I will always laugh."

      @ Answer. I hope you can afford to lol comes your day on that deathbed and your children ask you the same question.

      June 2, 2012 at 5:08 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      I'm pleased to announce that the current leader of my country is a self confessed atheist.
      religious freedom is the norm. and by religious freedom I mean all denominations of christianity, islam, and any and all other religions or beliefs
      80% of fire-arm related deaths are suicide.
      and at death this atheist will believe he's facing his own end

      June 2, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • slrman

      You have no idea what atheists know. You only have beliefs and "faith" Both mean accepting something as true with no supporting evidence and even much evidence against it.

      Atheists have knowledge that is supported by independently verifiable facts. We also do not need the threat of hell or the promise of a heaven to do the right thing. We do the right thing simply because it is right. Theist claim that without god, people would run wild, raping, stealing, and killing. That says more about how you think of yourselves than you might want others to know. Perhaps you've also revealed why 98% of all people in prison in the USA are christians and less than 1% are atheists. Atheists comprise about 16% of the entire population and less than 1% of criminals. Apparently theists are more likely to commit crimes.

      June 2, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • At death atheists believe

      Do you consider the cruasades evil? Most atheists consider it evil but if atheists kill oh boy they aren't blamed!

      Wow you really can't read what I posted.I will say this again,THEY did not kill in the name of atheism or that they were atheist.I said they killed millions and were atheist.

      Guess you can't comprehend truth

      June 2, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • madmaninthemiddle

      You specifically mention WWII. Sorry, but Hitler was a devout Christian. It's a big part of what drove his hatred toward those "Christ killers", the Jews.

      It' not religion or the lack thereof that has led so often to war. It's religious or cultural intolerance.

      June 2, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • At death atheists believe

      I didnt mention Hilter.Hitler killed less then the atheistic leaders did.Stalin was a devout atheist and killed nearly 20 million.

      You people seriously can't read..

      June 2, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Answer


      So you're afraid already of the truth. Understandable. You'll be dead as all the rest who have died.

      June 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Astarsia

      My Theist friends always talk about doing good deeds and avoiding bad ones so they don't go to hell...in other words...to save their own butts.
      My Atheist friends do good deeds and avoid bad ones just because they want to be good, kind people. Period.

      June 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  16. WOT

    All bigots thinks the same way (no brain)!

    June 1, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  17. Empirical data vs received nonsense

    “Damage was done to the state of race relations in the Southern Baptist Convention,"

    But the degree of damage was imperceptible because the state of race relations in the SBC is so limited.

    June 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  18. How To Understand Southern Baptists In One Easy Lesson

    What do Southern Baptist girls say when they lose their virginity?

    "Ah Daddy, you crushed my cigarettes!"

    June 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • lsgyrl

      That is so wrong. LOL

      June 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  19. mike23

    Saying the violence is their fault is stupid. Saying they are racial ambulance chasers is not only right on the money, it is going too easy on them. Jackson has extored millions from big corporations for decades and Sharpton makes his living on lies. Remeber Tawana Brawley or what ever her name was?

    June 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • wobbles

      these same folks who say "no justice-mo peace" but really mean "if we don't get things our way-we'll riot andf loot and burn"? Come on. Los Angeles in 1992 is a classic example of the violence these race baiters leave in their wake.

      June 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • lsgyrl

      Bored now ...

      June 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    June 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Cheese Wonton

      You can't be that naive.

      June 1, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Empirical data vs received nonsense

      "You can't be that naive"

      Oh, but they can be.

      June 1, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things

      June 2, 2012 at 4:17 am |
    • oomm

      oomm changes things.

      June 2, 2012 at 5:47 am |
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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.