The Southern Baptist’s Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee also issued Richard Land, president of the committee since 1988, two reprimands for his racially charged comments and plagiarism of them from the Washington Times.
“We reprimand Dr. Land for his hurtful, irresponsible, insensitive, and racially charged words on March 31, 2012, regarding the Trayvon Martin tragedy,” according to the Baptist Press reprint of the reprimands. “It was appropriate for Dr. Land to issue the apology he made on May 9, 2012, and we are pleased he did so.”
Land’s problems started on a March 31 broadcast of his “Richard Land Live!” radio show in which he defended neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in February in Sanford, Fla. Land accused President Obama of using the Martin shooting for political gain and labeled the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton as “race hustlers.”
The comments angered African-American leaders in the Baptist convention. Things escalated after a Baptist blogger found that Land had plagiarized his controversial comments from a Washington Times columnist. Land later admitted he had not always given credit to sources he used during his radio broadcast and publicly apologized twice.
“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,” the reprimands said.
The committee also investigated Land’s written works for plagarism and found none. It did not issue an end date for Land’s radio program, saying it would be as soon as possible according to its contract with Salem Radio Network.
Land told the Baptist Press that he looks forward to continuing to work with the committee and staff to further preach the Gospel.
“This whole process was conducted in a Christian manner by Christian gentlemen,” he said.
Many thanks to USA Today for this story.