Richard Land Loses Radio Show After Trayvon Martin Comments June 2, 2012

Richard Land Loses Radio Show After Trayvon Martin Comments

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land has landed himself in hot water for “racially insensitive” comments relating to the Trayvon Martin case, the teenager shot dead by a neighborhood watch volunteer in February. Land is the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, a post he has held since 1988. Land is a prominent spokesman for conservative Christian causes and hosted a couple of radio shows (“For Faith & Family” and “Richard Land LIVE!”), both of which he has now lost as a result of his indiscretion.

So, what did he actually say?

During an edition of his call-in program, he said that President Obama and other black leaders were exploiting the Trayvon Martin shooting “to gin up the black vote.” Land accused Obama and black civil rights activists of using the shooting to foment racial strife and boost the president’s re-election chances. He went on to accuse the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton of fomenting a “mob mentality.” In a delicious twist, a blogger pointed out that most of his remarks were in fact lifted from an editorial in the Washington Times, an editorial ‘mistake” he has also been reprimanded for.

Richard Land

His remarks were swiftly condemned by church leaders as well as commission trustees, who released the following statement:

We reprimand Dr. Land for his hurtful, irresponsible, insensitive, and racially charged words on March 31, 2012 regarding the Trayvon Martin tragedy. It was appropriate for Dr. Land to issue the apology he made on May 9, 2012 and we are pleased he did so. We also convey our own deepest sympathies to the family of Trayvon Martin for the loss they have suffered. We, too, express our sorrow, regret, and apologies to them for Dr. Land’s remarks. 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. We must now redouble our efforts to regain lost ground, to heal re-opened wounds, and to realize the dream of a Southern Baptist Convention that is just as diverse as the population of our great Nation.

Seeking to downplay the controversy, Land thanked the commission for their investigation and for allowing him to continue his work.

The Commission’s investigation has been conducted in a Christian manner by Christian gentlemen. I look forward to working with the trustees to minister the Gospel of our Saviour across our great land.

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. It remains to be seen if his comments have caused irreparable damage within the Southern Baptist community. Land enjoys immense standing within the corridors of power; leaders and friends describe him as a Southern Baptist Church institution. It is those friends in high places that have probably kept him in his job.

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  • Man from church that was formed specifically to keep black people in chains makes racially insensitive comments…huh. And I thought Ace Rimmer was predictable!

  • DG

    It seems that the tenor of this post suggests a certain desire to see Land fired. OK, work with me here. Why? There appears to be three things he’s done: plagiarism, suggesting certain leaders were exploiting the case to advance a political agenda, and supporting racial profiling.

    First, the plagiarism. I can see that being a reason. In the world of communications, that’s a no-no.
    Second, the accusation of exploiting this by leaders? What’s the problem there? People are accused of exploiting things all the time. People are accused of all manner of things today. Sometimes because it’s true. Sometimes just because. It wasn’t too long ago, following the Tucson shootings, we were told over and over that it’s in the blood of conservatives to be murdering psychopaths, waiting for someone to smack down the Queen of Diamonds in order to go on their next murderous rampage. Nobody lost their job over that one, even though the evidence showed the much repeated narrative to be false. Nobody worried if the victims were bothered by that. And yet, if we assume Land’s charges against the various leaders are false, they are still only false, and no more appalling than accusing people of being enablers (if not supporters) of mass murder.

    Third, the racial profiling. OK, I’m no supporter of racial profiling. But hasn’t this very blog been singing the praises of Sam Harris, despite Harris’ call for racial profiling of Muslims?
    It’s cheered his bold willingness to take on controversial topics. Is some racial profiling OK, it just depends on the minority?

    Increasingly, on both sides of the aisle, we seem to be a country just itching to punish people for saying things we don’t like. I’m not necessarily a fan of Mr. Land, but right now I’m having a hard time seeing why he should be punished, unless there’s an entire boatload of others who need to get pink slips as well, or there’s more evidence forthcoming. I’d rather them stay where they are, and let folks decide if they are right or wrong. If we want a country where people are punished for offending the wrong sensitivities, we might just end up getting what we want, and history proves that would be a bad thing indeed.

  • Dan

    Plagiarism absolutely should be punished. It’s an automatic F in most colleges, and grounds for possible expulsion, and Land has done it repeatedly.

    The Christian organization itself is punishing Land for his racist comments and theft of other people’s work, which is their right because he represents them. So they are policing themselves, why are you decrying that?

  •  “But hasn’t this very blog been singing the praises of Sam Harris, despite Harris’ call for racial profiling of Muslims?”


    Next question.

  • DG

    I’m a little worried about punishing people for saying things.  What I said was, if that’s the case, then the list of ‘they should be punished for saying horrible things’ would seem to stretch around many blocks.  I’m not saying if he advocated violence, or death, or similar things there shouldn’t be punishment.  Maybe it’s my age, but there was a time when liberalism decried such things, based on the principles of a free and open society where all agree to disagree, and everyone could speak his or her mind.  I’m OK with ditching him for stealing other people’s work.  But just because I decide this or that is wrong, someone should be punished?  Then what’s to stop someone from wanting me to be punished because they decided what I said was wrong?  It’s the way it used to be, that’s true.  But that was also what liberalism was all about overthrowing throughout the 70s and 80s and 90s – hence the ability so many revolutionary ideals and viewpoints had when it came to getting a foot in the door in our national debate. 

    Oh, and just because the SBC is doing something, I can’t imagine that being the reason nobody should question it.

  • DG

    I’m sorry, then how do you explain this:

    “I’ll tell you what I like about Sam Harris. He doesn’t shy away from talking about controversial topics and he doesn’t back down from his critics. Instead, he’s continuing an interesting discussion [about his call for profiling Muslims, among others]…Is he wrong? I’m honestly less interested in that answer than I him watching him go back and forth with his critics. This is a discussion he feels is worth having and the fact that so many commenters have a hard time responding to him without letting their emotions (and gut reactions) get in the way shows that he has touched a nerve. If he’s proven wrong, I want to see him acknowledge that. If he’s right, I want to watch him try and defend his views (hopefully, without being too stubborn about it). This is something we — as atheists — are supposed to do well. Debate, discuss, use reason and evidence, listen to the experts, admit if/when we’re wrong, and then keep asking more questions. It’s fascinating to watch.”

    Of course it’s not saying Harris is right.  I didn’t say it did.  But it’s sure not calling for Harris to be fired, that much is sure. 

  • LavonneDDecker
  • Dan

    So you think the it is inappropriate for an organization to punish their employee for saying racist stuff and plagiarizing other people in that employee’s official capacity as spokesman? Land didn’t just say this stuff on his own time, he said it while he was representing an organization on a radio show they were paying for.

    This mistaken view of free speech came up a few days ago when a commenter implied that feminists were trying to take away free speech right because they criticize comments they don’t like. Sarah Palin also likes to say that if an commentator is let go for offensive remarks that is taking away their right to free speech. Free speech does not imply the right to not be criticized or the right for other people to provide you a forum on their own dime.

  • Ah. I hadn’t seen that.

    Very well, I was wrong. I apologize.

  • DG

    In the 70s and 80s, if a radio station wouldn’t play the Stones, it was Censorship.  Period.  If a store wouldn’t carry a movie, or if a company cut ties with Madonna, it was censorship – or so said the liberals of the day. 

    I didn’t say he shouldn’t be canned for the plagiarism.  In fact, I said go for it.  As for organizations firing people?  Well, if that’s what we want, then don’t be upset if it turns out to be us who’s being fired.  Of course we can criticize, but there was a time when the criticism was to stop at punishment.  Because when people were punished for advocating, say, feminist values, or gay rights, or the right to smoke pot, or any one of a thousand things, we were all assured that it was a step toward fascism, no doubt about it.  After all these years, I’m inclined to agree with my more liberal comrades of old. 

  • DG

    No problem. 

  • Au_catboy

    Couldn’t they just have renamed the show “Dick Land’s Land of Dicks”?   Or were they saving that for when he gets caught on meth with a rentboy wearing multiple wetsuits?

  • Dan

    Well, I’m not a 70s liberal, so I don’t think a station not playing a song they don’t like is censorship, as long as local, state, or the federal government doesn’t try to ban it. The Christian station KLOVE doesn’t play Slipknot, I don’t consider that censorship. What you don’t seem to understand is that it is bizzare for a organization to continue subsidizing the production of content that goes against their values. You seem to be justifying your understanding of free speech by explaining that a lot of liberals in the 70s didn’t understand free speech.

    According to your logic it would be innaprpriate for Point of Inquiry to let go of one of their hosts if the host started pushing young-earth creationism and astrology using the podcast. Or it would be inappropriate for Science-Based Medicine to let go of one of their bloggers if he or she started bashing vaccinations and started pushing homeopathy and blood letting to cure cancer using the Science-based Medicine blog. Or it would be inappropriate for the ACLU to discontinue the official ACLU blog of someone calling for the stoning of gay people and supporting widespread torture.   

    People have a right to express their options through legal means and not be punished for it, but they don’t have a right to use the resources of an organization to directly attack the values of that same organization. 

  • Fsq


    Try to be a bit more sincere, and a bit less knee-jerk.

    I feel Harris makes a vlaid case.

    Also, like DG, the only reason I can see for this man’s firing is the plagiarism. That is a big deal. But for a southern baptist to make comments like this, and then to have everyone here get a collective case of the vapors while furiously grasping at the dress is so ridiculous and frightening it requires mocking.

    When is this “fire them for they say things we disagree with” going to end. If this comment came from someone like a Congressman or Senator the argument may have a little more credibiity, but to start getting all uppity about an idiotic and bigotted southern baptists doing what idiotic southern baptists do is equally idiotic.

    We must endure that which we find most uncomfortable to ensure we maintain our rights to speak our words and show our cases.

    The biggest issue for the firing of this dude is the plagiarism.

  • DG

    The point is, that was what those who advocated for things like gay rights and other more ‘liberal’ values thrived under.  By establishing a basis for complete open debate, and shaming anyone who got upset or angry, it assured the chance to discuss such things as gay rights in the open.  By the late 80s, nobody dared to stop it, or they were compared to fascists and thought police.
    Once, in the early 90s, a dentist in Florida went after some of the daytime talk shows of the day, not by calling for their ban, but by simply showing tapes of their shows to their sponsors.  Since some of them had become less than ‘family friendly’, several sponsors pulled their support for their shows. 

    Oh, the scandal.  It was the Nazis all over again!  Phil Donahue, one of the targeted hosts, was interviewed by Peter Jennings.  I remember Donahue waving his arms, saying it was just Big Brother, and next it would the Cosby Show!!!  At the end, in an editorial, Jennings agreed that such intolerance for diverse opionons was alarming, and not a mark of a free and open society.
    And so it was, it always was.  Of course we didn’t have to like the opinions or agree, but the idea that someone should be punished for their ideas was so foreign to the liberalism of the day as to be beyond discussion. 

    So it’s quite a shock that those who are carrying the banner of liberalism, and enjoying the fruits of its labors, seem to be embracing things that, had they been embraced 50 years ago, would never have allowed the very things liberals and progressive champion today.  See what I mean?  I may not like what atheists say, or how progressives say it, but I’ll fight to the death their right to do so, without fear of punishment simply because of their position.  For the next person punished might be me.

  • Dan

    You are still totally missing the point. The issue isn’t whether Land has the right to say something on his own time, obviously he does. The issue is whether someone working in their official capacity as a spokesman for an organization has a right to say and do anything they want that contrasts with what the organization stands for.

    Again, according to your view of free speech the ACLU should keep on board a spokesperson who was using the platform and resources of the ACLU to undermine everything the ACLU stood for. That isn’t free speech. Free speech does not mean the right to have someone you disagree with pay you for disagreeing with them and use their own money to propagate your message.

    I don’t really care if the ERLC keeps Richard Land on or not, he is a hateful, ignorant man with a huge platform who really embarrasses a lot of Christians, if the ERLC thinks he is hurting their cause then they have every right to stop paying for his radio show. I’d almost prefer that he stay on just because it exposes how backward a lot of Southern Baptists are, but his bigotry and calls for theocracy do real world harm, so I’m certainly not against the ERLC distancing themselves from him.

  • holeydood3

    ” He went on to accuse the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton of fomenting a ‘mob mentality.'” Honestly, I agree with the guy on this one single point. Jackson and Sharpton exist to cause controversy, playing up the racial divide. Whenever there is a very small chance of racial controversy, those two are hounding it, however, when 40+ black people die in a single weekend in Chicago, the two are completely silent. This happens over and over and over, and I just cannot see the two of them actually providing any value beyond riling people up. As for the plagiarism, that part definitely needs to be punished. No doubt about it.

  •  I have already admitted I was wrong, and apologized. There is no reason to hammer the point.

  • DG

    Oh, I get it.  And as long as it’s across the board, then no problem.  For instance, if you have a policy that says never, ever use the F-Bomb, and someone uses the F-Bomb, then fire away.

    But that would be no matter what.  That’s a standard applied across the board.  Interestingly, yours is a standard that has also been under assault.  After all, it wasn’t too long ago that religious groups at certain universities thought they could require religious faith as part of the requirements for being an officer, but they were informed that was incorrect – true diversity, in the greatest sense of 70s liberal values, means no standards but openness and equality for all.  So some universities would seem to disagree with that idea. 

    Though I tend to agree with what you say, as long as it is across the board and based on a single, consistent standard, not pressure from outside.  For when it’s pressure from outside, or it’s only applied in this vs. that situation, that’s when it becomes societal censorship as once defined.  Well almost, we still have the problem of radio stations accused of censorship because they wouldn’t play Rod Stewart.  

    Of course the real point could be that all those lofty ideals of free speech that were tossed about back in the day, the ones that allowed such topics as abortion rights and gay rights to be advocated on the public stage, and allowed songs about sex, drugs, and whatever to be played, were really a ruse.  It might be that nobody believed it then any more than they do now, and that yours is exactly what folks always thought – of course any institution or society itself as a right to establish moral parameters with which to judge right and wrong (like Christian employers expecting their employees to be, well, Christian).  They just waited until they had more influence and power before they let the cat out of the bag, and now wish to use the very standards they once condemned – standards which are self-evident, as you point out, but can now be applied to hush up debate about perspectives and values that they now reject.

    You never know, but it does make sense if you think about it.

  • SL

    Dr. Land speak the true which many other don’t. We all so afraid of what we say in this country so where is the freedom speaking in constitution ! the constitution not only for black people it is for all race. it’s ok if black talk about white or Asian or any other race. this is so sad for the called United States.    

  • Au_catboy

     Dr. Land is a delusional sociopath, a bigot, and a fraud, who works for a monstrous death cult created to promote slavery and willful ignorance.  It’s no surprise he and his supporters are racist morons who can’t even figure out what day it is. 

  • Jgant

    I think the ERLC overreacted. I think Dr. Land should have picked his words more carefully and been more clear about the Washington Times article about which he quoted. That said, it is a fact that Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpston say a lot of race baiting rhetoric to advance their causes. One of which is if you are white and oppose President Obama, you must be a racist. Remember when Sharpston acussed several cops of beating Twana Bradley? Turned out it was proven totally false. Jessie Jackson on the other hand was lecturing President Clinton on his infidelity in 1998, with his pregnant out of wedlock girlfriend, humiliating his wife. Dr. Land should not lost his radio shows. I think the ERLC seem pretty spineless, and caved to political pressure. I hope Dr. Land gets another radio show soon.

  • johnmcadams

    Of course, what Land said was the simple truth. 

    Are liberals blind to the fact that people on *their* side will exploit race for political advantage?

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