Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land has been reprimanded and will lose his radio show, the commission’s executive trustee committee announced in a statement to Baptist Press Friday.
Land was reprimanded for his “hurtful, irresponsible, insensitive, and racially charged words on March 31, 2012 regarding the Trayvon Martin tragedy.” In a radio broadcast that day, Land accused President Obama of “aiding and abetting” “race hustlers” in fomenting violence in response to the Martin shooting.
“We are particularly disappointed in Dr. Land’s words because they do not accurately reflect the body of his work over a long career at the ERLC toward racial reconciliation in the Southern Baptist Convention and American life,” the committee’s statement said.
Land was also reprimanded for “quoting material without giving attribution on the Richard Land Live! (RLL) radio show, thereby unwisely accepting practices that occur in the radio industry.” That material was taken directly from a Washington Times column. As a result, RLL will be terminated as soon as its contracts with the Salem Radio Network allow, the statement said.
In his own statement, Land affirmed the committee’s work, saying “I believe in trustee oversight and governance. I am under the authority of the trustees elected by the Southern Baptist Convention. This whole process was conducted in a Christian manner by Christian gentlemen.”
At The Huffington Post, Mark Joseph, author of The Lion, the Professor, and the Movies: Narnia’s Journey to the Big Screen, praised the embattled leader, saying, “If Land is driven from the public square it will be a sad day for the Christian community which sorely lacks smart spokespeople who can tell the rest of the country what’s on its mind.”
At Patheos.com’s “The Friendly Atheist,” Mark Turner noted that “despite calls from several Baptist ministers for Land to step down, he has not lost the post which would seem most inappropriate to retain — his job as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.”
In a May 28 profile of Land, Bob Smietana described him as “a study in contradictions,” saying Land is the son of a welder with a doctorate from Oxford University, a man who believes wives should obey their husbands, but who is married to an educated professional woman, and an opponent of gay marriage and abortion who supports immigration reform.
At Christianity Today, Bobby Ross Jr. compared Land’s downfall with the rise of the Rev. Fred Luter, who is expected to become the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention later this month. “Over the long haul, Luter’s election will have a more lasting influence upon the SBC” and “Land’s comments will be a historical footnote,” Nathan Finn, a professor of historical theology and Baptist studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina is quoted as saying.
Update: Land signed off from his radio show for the last time June 2, Associated Baptist Press reports. Without discussing the controversy surrounding his departure, Land reportedly said, “Due to a variety of circumstances this will be my last appearance on Richard Land Live!”
Should Land be fired as president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission or has he been sufficiently reprimanded?