Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land, who played a key role in the Southern Baptist Convention's 1995 repentance of the "racism of which we have been guilty," has caught media attention over what he views as the infusion of politics into the Trayvon Martin killing.
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Land, on his radio show "Richard Land Live!" March 31, said President Obama and black leaders such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson should not have been so quick to jump into the case.
Land's comments were reported nationally by Religion News Service, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times and other media.
"Instead of letting the legal process take its independent course, race mongers are anointing themselves judge, jury and executioners," Land said. "The rule of law is being assaulted by racial demagogues, and it's disgusting, and it should stop."
Land said leaders such as Sharpton, Jackson and Louis Farrakhan have fostered ethnic resentment following the shooting of the 17-year-old Martin, an African American, by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, a Hispanic, in Florida in February.
"This is being done to try to gin up the black vote for an African American president who is in deep, deep, deep trouble for reelection and who knows that he cannot win reelection without getting the 95 percent of blacks who voted for him in 2008 to come back out and show that they're going to vote for him again," Land said. (The full broadcast can be accessed at www.richardlandlive.com at the archives tab.)
A front-page story in The Tennessean in Nashville on April 5 included comments from an African American staff member of the Florida Baptist Convention, Maxie Miller Jr., who had been quoted in a March 28 Baptist Press story.
Miller, team strategist for the Florida Baptist Convention's African American church planting team, told Baptist Press April 5 he was disappointed by Land's comments "and what they imply to non-Christians and to non-Southern Baptists."
"They imply that we [the SBC] have leaders that represent us that may not have turned the corner when dealing with people of other ethnic groups. And I use the word 'may not have.' I have no knowledge of Land other than his position," Miller told Baptist Press.
In comments provided to Baptist Press April 10, Land stood by his radio remarks.
"Some have said that I, by criticizing this rush to judgment, have set back the cause of racial reconciliation. Real racial reconciliation, to which I have been committed for my entire ministry, involves treating people as equals," Land wrote.
"Among other things, it means speaking the truth in love and not being called a racist when you are the bearer of uncomfortable truths. True racial reconciliation means you can criticize black leaders when you believe they have been wrong without being labeled as a racist. True racial reconciliation means that you do not bow to the false god of political correctness," Land wrote.
On his radio show, Land said "race hustlers" such as Sharpton, Jackson and Farrakhan "have made their careers and lucrative fortunes by fomenting racial grievances and demonizing the 'white power structure.'
"In their eyes, segregation has never been truly repealed. It has just become invisible," Land said. "They need the Trayvon Martins to continue their central myth: America is a racist and an evil nation. For them, it's always Selma, Ala., circa 1965. They haven't noticed that the nation has changed."
If Zimmerman is guilty, he should be held fully accountable, Land said, but "this mob mentality rush to judgment from the president on down is disgraceful, and the way in which the media has been largely silent about it and has aided and abetted it is also disgraceful."
The nation needs leaders "who calm us rather than inflame volatile situations," Land said.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Erin Roach & Diana Chandler