Richard Land, Racial Harmony, and Plagiarism

Dr. Richard Land of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission may have become an impediment to the trend toward racial reconciliation in the SBC. As the SBC was steaming toward the NOLA Annual Meeting with high hopes of racial harmony and excitement about the election of our first black SBC president, Dr. Land made himself the iceberg that could sink that ship.

Land, on his radio show, made some comments about the Trayvon Martin tragedy, accusing people of playing politics and being especially critical of those like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who tend to infuse themselves into tragedies like this. Land said,

“The rule of law is being assaulted by racial demagogues and it’s disgusting, and it should stop.”

These comments have been trumpeted throughout the press, generally in a bad light.

Last night, Baptist press published Land’s apology for his comments. He apologized for the controversy they have created.  He recounted his commitment to racial reconciliation and  his dismay that his comments hindered the progress of harmony.

Fred Luter also issued a gracious statement accepting the apology and trying to diffuse the situation.

But the controversy doesn’t end there.  Dr. Land has also been accused of plagiarism by Aaron Weaver, who blogs (and comments here relatively frequently) as “Big Daddy Weave” or BDW, in two articles entitled, “Richard Land the Plagiarist: Top SBC Ethicist Stirs Up Controversy with Someone Else’s Rant – Updated,” and, “More Plagiarism from Head of Southern Baptist Ethics Agency.”   The accusations of plagiarism, a serious ethical breach, have also been covered in the mainstream media, as this Washington Post article demonstrates.

Weaver, in his article, makes a compelling case.  He clearly demonstrates large sections of Land’s March 31 and February 4 radio programs in which he quotes lengthy sections of articles written by others without mentioning the sources.  In both cases, Land linked to the articles he quoted in the show’s online notes, but did not mention the sources on air. One listening to the program would believe that Land’s words were his own and were not quotes of other’s writings. Clearly, Weaver is not a fan of Dr. Land, accusing him of “fraud” and calling him “ethically-challenged.”  But in spite of Weaver’s disdain for Land, the evidence seems unassailable and is clearly troubling.

It appears beyond debate that Land used material on the air that was written by someone else and failed to credit that person.

Is that plagiarism, since he linked to the sources on the website? I’m not an expert, so I don’t know if the charge of plagiarism is technically fair.  But it seems clear that what Land did was not ethically right.  It bothers me that the head of the ERLC would fail to properly attribute quotes on air.  Shouldn’t an ethicist know the ethics involved here?

Land apologized for that in the Washington Post article linked to above.

“On occasion I have failed to provide appropriate verbal attributions on my radio broadcast, and for that I sincerely apologize. I regret if anyone feels they were deceived or misled. That was not my intent nor has it ever been.”

Land admits that he failed to give proper credit on air for material from others that he used.  He, essentially, claimed carelessness, not an intent to deceive or to plagiarize.  Of course, as Weaver demonstrates, he did this more than once, making the carelessness defense less tenable.

But the facts, as they stand, are uncontroverted.

  1. Land apologized for issuing remarks that have inflamed racial tensions within the SBC in a time in which racial reconciliation seemed to be progressing rapidly.
  2. Land apologized for speaking words he took from other conservative authors and spoke them as if they were his own.

So, twice in the last couple of days, Land has been forced to issue public apologies for his words and actions in this case.

Perspectives

1.  Dr. Land represents us 

Land, in his position as president of the ERLC, is viewed by the public and the press as an official representative and spokesman for us as Southern Baptists.  His words carry weight, because he is part of the SBC structure.  So, in public perception, Land speaks for me when he opens his mouth.

The problem is that pretty often, when he speaks, I cringe.

2. Is this what he is hired to do? 

I have no great appreciation for either Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.  They seem like political opportunists who use tragedies to further their own political aims.

But is the discussion of a tragic death something that Southern Baptist’s representatives need to be taking a position on?

Land should be focused on issues of religious liberty, moral issues on which we Baptists have strong stands (abortion, etc) and other issues to which the Bible speaks clearly.

I just do not understand why Richard Land is getting involved in issues like the Trayvon Martin shooting. What principle of Baptist conviction is at stake here?

3. The SBC’s ethics leader doing unethical things is troubling.

I’m not big fan of journalism as it is practiced today.  But most print or broadcast journalists would be fired if they did what Land did. If someone did something similar in an academic paper, they would find themselves in the tall weeds.

Land’s explanation that this was a simple oversight would carry more weight if it had happened once.  But it was a repeated phenomenon and that is deeply troubling.

4. Does the secular world view plagiarism more severely than the Christian world?

In 30 years of public ministry, I have preached sermons based on other people’s sermons probably less than 5 times.  John MacArthur has a message about stages of God’s judgment from Romans 1 that used as the basis for a message. I can’t remember other times I did this, but I’m sure it has happened.  But when I did it, I referenced the other person as the foundation for the message.

But I am afraid that sermon-stealing is more common than we’d like to admit, especially now that online repositories exist.  It is unethical and immoral to do so.  The preacher’s most sacred task is to search the scriptures for God’s word to his people every Sunday.  To simply “borrow” someone else’s words aborts that process.

But the fact that it is done so often may explain why Land’s actions have not created more of a scandal.

5. Apologies require forgiveness, but do not alleviate all consequences. 

Land has apologized twice and we should accept that apology in the Spirit of Christ.  But the fact that he has apologized and been forgiven does not change the fact that he has committed some serious offenses which speak, potentially, to both his ability to fulfill his dutes and his personal integrity.

If I committed a serious ethical sin (immorality, dishonesty, etc), and repented, my church would be required to forgive me, but they would not be required to continue my employment as pastor.  In fact, I think they would be foolish to do so.

We should accept Land’s apologies, as Luter has, but that does not nullify questions of his fitness to continue in his job.

Where Do We Go from Here? 

I don’t know.  But if I understand Land’s job correctly, it is hard to see how he can do it effectively anymore.

As I understand it, Land has two jobs.  First, he educates Southern Baptists about certain ethical and moral issues.  Perhaps he can continue to do that. But I also understand that his job is to represent us and issues we care about in Washington.  He is both an educator and an advocate.

Does Land still have credibility in Washington?  He has been caught doing something that is inexcusably careless at best and unethical at worst.  Can he represent us in Washington now?

It is time for the ERLC to face a tough question. Is Richard Land an effective spokesman for Southern Baptists?  It may be time for Land to shuffle off into retirement and let someone else try their hand at the helm of the ERLC.

 

Comments

  1. says

    When people discuss the SBC wasting money that could go overseas the first stop should be Richard Land and the ERLC.

    Why do we put up with this nonsense and keep giving Land a platform?

    Fire the guy and close down the entire ERLC. Focus our efforts and money were they belong.

      • Greg says

        We do not need the ERLC. We have one mission and one mission only to spread the GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST! We do not need Land and company lobbying in Washington in a culture war……..”This is a lesson evangelicals ought to know from church history. Whenever the church has focused on evangelism and preaching the gospel, her influence has increased. When she has sought power by political, cultural, or military activism, she has damaged or spoiled her testimony.” John MacArthur

        ” Political engagement often turns the church’s mission field into the enemy.” John MacArthur

    • says

      We don’t really have to “fire the guy” – that sounds kinda harsh, doesn’t it?

      Land is pretty close to retirement age. It might be more appropriate to honor his service, shake his hand and let him retire with honor.

      • Dave Miller says

        There are two separate questions:

        1) Do we need the ERLC?
        2) Is Land still effective at the helm of the ERLC?

        • Joe McGee says

          I beleive that we need the ERLC to represent Southern Baptist in Washington concerning our moral and ethical beleif. We need the ERLC there to persuade poiticians to voted against pro-abortion bills, to vote for conservative judges on the Supreme Court, to vote in against bill that endorse of promotes sin, and to provide protection for our religious liberty in this country. To advocate that we do away with this SBC organization is short sighted at the least and could be harmful to our voice in Washington. The problem that I see is that we are electing trustees to manage our institutions who are not doing a very good job. I am an old minister that was very much involved with the Conservative Resurgence. We knew that we could not fire anyone who was a leader of a Southern Baptist institution. We understood that to make change tha twe had to replace the trustees. This is why it took several years before change was made. I say let land finish with honor, yet encourage him to retire as soon as he reaches retirement age.

        • Frank L. says

          #1: Yes, I think we do need the ERLC or something like it. We cannot afford to surrender in the culture war. Ideas are powerful. We need to compete in the arena of ideas.

          #2: Dr. Land is a brilliant thinker. He is a strong academic. I have not always agreed with him on every issue, but I think he can hold his own in a conversation.

          But, we all are products of our past. Maybe we need a “new academic” who can compete in the marketplace of ideas. I do think Dr. Land has served well during some very tumultuous times. I’m certainly for giving credit where credit is due.

          • Frank L. says

            PS–I’d like to nominate a classmate and friend of mine. He holds two or three Master’s Degrees, served as an officer in the Air Force (I don’t hold that against him), and is an Assistant Professor of Ethics at SWBTS.

            I nominate Dr. Craig Mitchell.

            He happens to be of African American decent.

      • says

        Dave,
        Sure, let him retire and then retire the ERLC org.

        How in the world ERLC fits in with the Anabaptist fanatics in the SBC is beyond me.

        • Joe McGee says

          Joshua

          Would it surprise you to know tha the first church that was referred to as “Baptist” church was not the one in Holland began by John Smyth and Thomas Helwys in 1609, both came under the influence of Anabaptist (Mennonite). The first church carrying the Baptist name was started by an Anabaptist by the name of Balthasar Hubmaier at Waldhut in 1525. Usually those who refer to those who accept that one stream of Baptist history was influecne by AnaBaptist as fanatics are those that are deep in reform theology who think that they are the only true Baptist. This may not be your motive, I don’t know. However, being a Chuurch and Baptist Histroy profesor I do not consider myself a fanatic for accepting the fact of AnaBaptist as long a Calvinistic streams of influences among our Baptist History. With love, your humble Baptist fanatic.

          • Anthony Clay says

            “”” However, being a Chuurch and Baptist Histroy(sic) profesor(sic)””””

            Where are you a professor and what does this have to do with the connection between the ERLC and the Anabaptist fanatics?

          • says

            Joe,

            Not my motive at all. I am marveling at how those who claim to be Anabaptist Southern Baptists (Brothers Caner, Patterson, etc.) are not doing everything in their power to abolish ERLC since it so strongly violates what Anabaptists believe regarding church and state.

            My reference to “fanatics” was merely mentioning those who greatly adore the Anabaptist movement. I didn’t intend it as a slur.

            Also, I don’t agree with the phrase “truly Baptist” as that means very little in light of the vast doctrinal pool that historic and modern “Baptists” have and continue to wade (fully immersed). :)

            Such an endeavor as to claim “Baptist Identity” is naiive at best and dishonest at worst.

          • Joe McGee says

            To Anthony Clay below. I apoligize for hitting a few wrong keys when I wrote my last blog. I did not know that we had a grammar and spelling judge that had to approve our writing. I had a stroke a few years back and I am not as sharp as I use to be. Please, if you can find it in your heart to forgive me I ask that you would, this seems to be your biggest concern. Forgive me, forgive me , forgive me. It use to really bother me when someone purposely tries to embarrase me, now I just let others consider the source. By the way the blog was in reference to Joshua’s blog. He responded graciously. You coulod probably learn something from him.

      • Greg Buchanan says

        Being of no offense Dave, but your sentimentality toward Dr. Land is nauseating. I’m not a fan nor a foe; in fact I hardly know anything about him other than what I’ve read here.

        However, I tend to hold Moses in MUCH higher esteem and he didn’t get to retire with honor. I daresay Moses was closer to God (literally) and was more instrumental and effective, yet when he crossed the line, he didn’t get to go into the promised land, period.

        There is no reason Dr. Land shouldn’t be fired if appropriate. It doesn’t matter the length or tenor of his service.

        Considering the evidence in this blog alone, he should be let go. And don’t mistake that I don’t think there can be grace and forgiveness and reconciliation. But that doesn’t mean he gets to keep the job.

        Moses was on GREAT terms with God when he died, but he had lost the job of Leader of Israel.

        • Zack says

          Greg:

          I think your criticism of Dave is unnecessarily harsh:

          1) Simply saying “no offense” does not change the fact that you derided Dave’s “sentimentality” as “nauseating.” Unless his writing actually caused you to need some Pepto-Bismol, there was probably a more gracious way to start your criticism. “Dave, I think you are letting Land off the hook too easily for the following reasons” would have sufficed nicely and wouldn’t have needed the “no offense” caveat.

          2) As you admit, “[you] hardly know anything about [Land] other than what I’ve read here.” Dave, or others here, may have more experience and more of a relationship with Land than you. Love him or hate him, he’s been an institution in the SBC for a quarter century. That certainly doesn’t absolve him of anything, but I think that, at the very least, it leaves room for people to react with personal sadness and to hope for the best for Land.

          3) The bulk of your critique seems to focus on whether or not Land should lose his job. I don’t see where Dave has advocated that he keep it. In fact, as Dave himself pointed out, he advocated for the dissolution of the ERLC several years ago, before any of this occurred. I guess the use of the term “retire” seems to suggest letting Land stay on until he retires; however, in context of the entire article, (including Dave’s observation that Land can no longer “effectively” perform his job), the suggestion that we allow Land to retire seemed more like a euphemistic way of politely ushering him out the door without having to use the term “fired.”

          (To be clear, I myself would have used less euphemistic language than Dave. I’m not in any way defending Land or his actions or the existence of the ERLC. Rather, I simply think that your criticism of Dave was perhaps misplaced.)

        • Dave Miller says

          Wow, Greg, overreact much?

          You might remember that I wrote the post suggesting that it may be time for Dr. Land to go. Why would we want to humiliate and degrade him in the process.

          I guess I don’t understand your desire for blood here. Frankly, it seems like the kind of arrogance that people often criticize the younger SBCers for.

          Sorry to nauseate you, Greg, but frankly, your attitude does sadden me quite a bit.

        • Greg Buchanan says

          Rebuke taken.

          Let me start with an apology: Dave I’m sorry for my offense. I wasn’t trying to do the bait-and-switch with the “being of no offense…” line, not intentionally.

          I did not mean to come across so harshly. After I posted, I looked at it and wondered if I’d made a mistake.

          My whole point was that if Land is not capable of leading, then he should be let go. I’ve seen people stay in a position too long because someone didn’t want to fire them right before they would retire anyway. But that was time that could have been better spent with a quality leader in place rather than someone coasting who needs to go.

          That is where my comment about sentimentality was angled… and I can clearly see I angled wrong.

          I have no clue if Land should stay or go. I have no view that anyone here other than BDW thinks he should go or that anyone here thinks he should stay in his position.

          I wasn’t commenting on anyone’s advocacy in either direction. I just don’t feel comfortable with someone staying in a position longer than they should if unqualified or disqualified.

          Moses didn’t retire with honor and go into the Holy Land, yet Hebrews lists him in the hall of faith.

          I apologize Dave for my crass comment. I clearly could have stated it better.

    • John says

      I agree. The money would be better used and the Gospel better served if it were out into mission work. Both the individual and the office always seems to give the SBC a bad image.

    • Frank L. says

      Not a smart move in my opinion.

      We need to have a moral compass and a vigilant watch on liberty.

      To simply abolish the ERLC would be capitulation in my view.

      This is a “baby out with the bath water approach.”

  2. Dave Miller says

    I hate writing articles like this. But as editor of SBC Voices, once I read Aaron’s articles I did not feel like I had any choice but to speak to this issue.

    I realize some will be angry about what I wrote, and others will want to bash Land for whatever reasons.

    I hope we can have a reasoned discussion of the issues here, of the question of Land’s ability to lead the SBC and ERLC. If the discussion begins to spiral out of hand, my recourse will be to shut down comments.

    • Zack says

      Dave:

      I am sincerely grateful for this article, both in tone and content. I was secretly hoping that there would be some mention of it here on SBC Voices—not because I want further controversy or contention, but because I felt like it needed to be addressed as a matter of convention-wide importance.

      Ultimately, the following statement is what resonated most with me:

      The problem is that pretty often, when he speaks, I cringe.

      I have no doubt that Mr. Land is a good man with a good heart, but more often than not I wish he wasn’t in a position to be the media’s go-to guy for the SBC’s position in these cases.

  3. says

    If you google the name Richard Land, you will see that the plagiarism accusations are gaining traction.

    If we could demonstrate them as false accusations, I would tell us to ignore the “drive-by media” and stay the course. But the accusations are factually true, whatever Land’s intent.

    • Frank L. says

      Dave,

      I hear what you are saying, but I just wonder if the motives of the media are pure; or, do the motives of the media matter.

      If the media says, “He’s got to go,” can we assume there is good reason to do so?

      I can see both sides of this argument, but I just don’t like the “who cares how long he has served” attitude. If his length of service doesn’t matter, how about the fact that he is a Christian brother who has made a mistake?

      I’m not advocating either “excusing him” nor “executing him.” As believers, can’t we at least look for some middle ground?

      By the way, Dave, I think you offered a possible middle ground alternative.

      • cb scott says

        This thread does smack with some degree of inequity it seems to me.

        I think it might be safe to assume that some here who promote the “who cares how long he has served and what he has accomplished in the past” attitude toward Richard Land are some of the same folks who, in defense of Mark Driscoll, state; “Yes I know he has some serious problems and personality flaws and there are things on which I cannot agree with him, but he does preach the gospel.”

        Is that not an inconsistency of sorts?

        BTW, I am no Richard Land fan, but it goes back long before this and for very different reasons.

        • says

          Defending Driscoll because he at minimum preaches the gospel and defending Land and the existence of ERLC because of their accomplishments is apples and oranges.

          It seems most people here have a problem with ERLC and Land, not just Land. ERLC’s very existence is being questioned out of principle not merely because of controversy. Do we need a political arm for our convention is the heart of the matter. In my most very humble and not important opinion, I say let SBs fund their own pet political organizations and shut ERLC’s doors.

          • cb scott says

            Actually, it is not “apples and oranges.”

            The inconsistency is that you, Joshua,would defend Driscoll based on the fact that you identify with him and you are ready to cut Land loose because you do not identify with him.

            The inconsistency, on your part, and that of others is you make such decisions based on emotion and personal attraction to one’s theological predisposition compared to the theological predisposition of the other. Also one represents an established institution and the other represents the anti-establishment.

            BTW, Richard Land preaches and articulates the gospel as well as Driscoll.

            You just don’t like him for who he is and what he represents.

            Now, having said that, I have never thought he should have been in the big chair of the ERLC.

          • says

            CB,

            LOL oh the assumptions. I don’t approve of Driscoll, and don’t identify with him at all.

            So many assumptions and you don’t even know me.

            Sorry to not fit in your box. ;)

          • cb scott says

            Joshua,

            You have my apologies.

            Yet, let me ask you, why did you make this statement?

            “Defending Driscoll because he at minimum preaches the gospel and defending Land and the existence of ERLC because of their accomplishments is apples and oranges.”

            I ask the question because what I stated about inconsistencies here is not “apples and oranges.”

            Some here who would attack Land will also be first in line to defend Driscoll.

            I have never supported Land in the position he holds. Yet, I do know the ERLC has done many good things to advance the truth of the gospel and assure some degree of freedom for those who preach it.

            Yet, it has always been my contention that someone else should have been in the big chair at the ERLC.

  4. says

    If someone had asked me even a few years ago what I thought of Richard Land, I would have suggested that he needs to resign. He’s been trouble for many years. Why the SBC even has such an office in Washington and someone who represents the SBC in such an office, who knows? Land, to me, represents all that kept me from the SBC for years.

  5. says

    Why am I a Southern Baptist? Of course my family heritage has something to do with it. But among the reasons I continue to consider myself a Southern Baptist and continue to care about what happens in the SBC is because of the stewardship of resources dedicated toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission. At the root of this discussion is the discussion on “What is the Mission of the Church?” At the bottom of my list for being a Southern Baptist, is because the ERLC represents my concerns in Washington and in the public square (which it often does not). There are plenty of other organizations that dedicate themselves specifically to doing this. We can all freely choose to support whatever of these organizations most closely matches with our own views on political and ethical issues (or not to support any of them). But in the SBC we ought to be united in our common commitment toward a common goal: the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

    • Dave Miller says

      From my memory, the ERLC budget is around 3 million or so? That’s a lot of missionaries.

      • Frank L. says

        Dave,

        If we are to extend this argument: how many missionaries could be provided if we did nothing but send missionaries? I’m thinking a lot.

        This is a basic question that is in the air at this time: what exactly should be the focus of NAMB and the IMB. I think we are clearer when it comes to the IMB.

        Also, how many more missionaries could be sent in the next five years if every Southern Baptist church sold their property and started meeting i homes? I’m thinking a lot.

        And, then of course, the nasty question could come up: how many more missionaries could be sent if every full time SBC pastor went bivocational? I’m thinking a lot.

        So, I guess what I’m thinking is . . . simply saving money is not a good reason to stop doing something. Of course, it might be part of the equation, but I’m think a small part.

    • Bill Mac says

      I have said this also. We don’t need (and shouldn’t have) the ERLC. It is not our function. It is a waste of money. And does the world really need another talk show host? (do we pay him for this talk show?)

  6. says

    I am so glad to see this article. I was very concerned that this would not be mentioned in this forum. It needs to be because Richard Land and the ERLC do much damage to the cause is the Gospel. Land’s marriage to the Republican party and all things hyper conservative make people feel unwelcome and unwanted in the SBC.

    These latest charges are just another nail in the well built coffin that Land and his lackeys have been building over the last 10 years. For me, Land lost ALL credibility when he stood on stage with Glenn Beck and proclaimed himself a part of Beck’s Black Robe Regiment. Aligning himself with a part of a Mormon’s group of preachers was inexcusable in my opinion and was truly worthy of dismissal if the SBC wanted to maintain the legitimacy of the ERLC organization.

    I say send good Mr. Land packing, close the ERLC, and let’s focus on reaching people for Jesus instead of reaching people for conservative politics.

    • says

      For me, Land lost ALL credibility when he stood on stage with Glenn Beck and proclaimed himself a part of Beck’s Black Robe Regiment. Aligning himself with a part of a Mormon’s group of preachers was inexcusable in my opinion and was truly worthy of dismissal if the SBC wanted to maintain the legitimacy of the ERLC organization.

      Ryan,

      We probably don’t agree on several major issues confronting the SBC, but you have hit the nail on the head with this statement. I could not agree more. For the head of our ERLC to so align himself with Beck was, in itself, grounds for dismissal. While I wholeheartedly agree with Land’s observations about Jackson and Sharpton (they are race demogogues who profit on stirring up racial animosity), he once again has demonstrated a tone-deafness in dealing with some of the hot-button moral/political issues of the day.

      There was no good reason for Land to interject himself in this debate. It is a lose-lose situation and he should have exercised better discretion in his comments. But, this, along with his apparent plagerism, is, as you say, perhaps the final nail in the coffin. I don’t think he will survive this latest episode. I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear an announcement of Dr. Land’s “retirement” either before or at the convention in New Orleans. Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  7. Jason says

    On a local radio station in my town, Land is often referred to as the president of the SBC. I know they’re confused on his actual role as the head of the ERLC, but it’s clear that what he says becomes representative of all the SBC – at least in the minds of some of the media here. It’s interesting to see others uncomfortable with that too.

  8. Michael Parent says

    What ever happened to “GRACE ?” Did it leave while I was looking elsewhere?

    • Dave Miller says

      Apples and oranges, Michael.

      First, did you actually read my article? I dealt with this in section 5.

      5. Apologies require forgiveness, but do not alleviate all consequences.

      Land has apologized twice and we should accept that apology in the Spirit of Christ. But the fact that he has apologized and been forgiven does not change the fact that he has committed some serious offenses which speak, potentially, to both his ability to fulfill his dutes and his personal integrity.

      If I committed a serious ethical sin (immorality, dishonesty, etc), and repented, my church would be required to forgive me, but they would not be required to continue my employment as pastor. In fact, I think they would be foolish to do so.

      We should accept Land’s apologies, as Luter has, but that does not nullify questions of his fitness to continue in his job.

      We extend grace to Land. But that grace being extended does not mean that his ethical lapse should be ignored. If I committed adultery (God forbid), should I be shown grace? Yes. Does that mean that I should remain as pastor of church? Of course not. Forgiveness and leadership are two different issues.

      No one is advocating that Land be pilloried and ostracized. The question is whether he is qualified to continue as the head of an SBC agency after this.

  9. says

    I support Richard Land and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

    Behind the scenes they have helped us in untold ways letting politicians and presidents know what Baptists and Christians in general believe. Political leaders take note of and sometimes consult the ERLC on issues of the day, often before the final decisions are made. The ERLC has also provided resources to Baptists on what we have stood for through the years.

    Why would Land be trying to plagiarize when from the beginning he gave the references in the notes to the program? Not mentioning the references on the radio program was an error, but in no way an attempt to deceive.

    Land has been very visible in promoting racial reconciliation. But frankly, many have less than high regard for the political activities of some racial activists. Some consider Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as increasing rather than decreasing racial tensions.

    It seems a cheap shot to say let’s take the ERLC budget and give it to the IMB. This is not an either / or situation. Perhaps we should take half your salary (no one in particular; a general statement) and give it to international missions? Maybe they could make better use of it than what you’re doing?
    David R. Brumbelow

    • Dave Miller says

      Land’s repeated failure to make known his sources bothers you not at all? I find it to be a pretty serious ethical lapse.

  10. Zack says

    I have a few open questions for those more well-versed in SBC internal procedures/history than I:

    1) How, exactly, was the ERLC created? I see that it’s been in existence since 1988 and has been led by Land since its inception, but I can’t seem to find anything specific, (on either the ERLC’s website, the SBC’s past resolutions, or the authority on all knowledge, Wikipedia), concerning its creation or position within the greater SBC.

    2) Is there any oversight over Land or the ERLC? As with my first question, I can’t seem to find any specifics regarding authority or accountability.

    3) If we were to advocate for Land’s resignation/early retirement, or for the outright dissolution of the ERLC, what is the best procedural approach? (Obviously, without knowing how it was created or how it fits into the greater structure of the SBC, it’s hard to know how to address problems with it.)

    • says

      The “Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission” was previously named the “Christian Life Commission” of the SBC.

      The ERLC / CLC was known to be on the Moderate to Liberal side in the SBC until the results brought by the Conservative Resurgence.

      Richard Land is the first conservative president of the ERLC / CLC.

      The ERLC has trustees, just like our other SBC agencies.
      David R. Brumbelow

    • Joe McGee says

      The ERLC was began in response to the liberal leadership of the Baptist Joint Committee of Puplic Affairs. This organization represented all Baptist Denominations with Southern Baptist financing the mother load. James Dunn was its leader. Some advocated for women’s right to obortion, and many other liberal ideals. The Southern Baptist broke away from this organization and began an orgainzation that truly represented Southern Baptists. Dr. Land was needed in the formation of this ministry. He has done a great job in the past. However, I too, beleive that he sometimes gets involved in areas that has nothing to do with Southern Baptist morals and concerns. I do not beleive that he needs to be fired, however, as I stated before the trustees need to meet with him and have some sort of understanding as to what he needs and needs not to address. As stated previously, before one can make a change they have to first make a change in the trusttees if the ministry is not performing well. You can not go to the SBC meeting and ask for a vote. It is up to the trustees. I know this because I am one of the old guys who with other conservative ministers worked hard in the late 70s through the early 90s t ochange the SBC from liberal leadership.

    • says

      I remember on a post about a similar issue back a couple of years ago asking if anyone knew if there is an ERLC purpose statement, mission statement, or guidelines of practice somewhere. I don’t remember for sure if anyone ever came up with something, but if my memory isn’t failing me, they never did. At that time, I could not find anything like this on the ERLC website. Perhaps they have updated it since then. I think it would be interesting to know this, though, and to be able to critique individual cases like this in accordance with stated purpose, mission, and guidelines, especially if these have been officially condoned in any sense through the democratic processes of the SBC.

      If anyone knows how to track down this information, I think it would be helpful.

      • Zack says

        After he started speaking a couple of days ago, I went looking for anything like this. The ERLC website is vague, at best, which is why I posted the questions here. There seems to be information out there regarding the ERLC’s formation from the disputes with BJCPA, you quickly run into a dead end after that.

      • Dave Miller says

        David (Rogers), I think you get at the heart of one of the problems. The ERLC is Dr. Land and Dr. Land IS the ERLC. That is, to me, a problem.

  11. Bruce H. says

    Doesn’t Richard Land have a boss and shouldn’t he have a job description? If so, Mr, Land may be doing what he is being paid to do. Maybe someone else should be responsible in the SBC.

    Regardless, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson should never represent Christianity in any form, especially the use of the title “Reverend”. If saying anything against them causes racial tension within the SBC, we need to think twice about whom it is offending. If a church gets offended when pointing out these two men and their actions we should seriously consider that racial reconciliation will never happen. I am aware of instances where both of these men refused to accept and forgive a man that sincerely apologized. When you cannot do that, you can never reconcile a relationship whether it is between two people or two races. We have to draw the line somewhere and, in my humble opinion, we should draw it with the “Al and Jesse” types on one side and the SBC on the other. If that mind-set is not crushed by God’s love and through His grace, we will be apologizing till Jesus comes. I think our first step should be a step of faith and it should be very plain and direct.

  12. Frank L. says

    “””But I am afraid that sermon-stealing is more common than we’d like to admit.”””

    Dave, your article contains more worms than will fit in a standard-sized Baptist can.

    I’m interested the “sermon” aspect of it. First, let me state my view: there are no original preachers. Everyone, if they preach the gospel, is quoting someone else in some way. Solomon reminds us there is “nothing new under the sun.”

    When you say you have only preached another’s sermon 5 times, I’m taking that to mean you significantly borrowed content only five times. I don’t think you mean you have always come up with an original, new idea that nobody else thought of. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    About 30 years ago I developed a sermon that has become a favorite of mine and a favorite of all my followers (that would be my wife, kids, and two dear friends). I preached it in view of a call at the church I now pastor.

    Two of the members that felt threatened by what they thought I was all about (meaning their jobs might be in jeopardy) googled my sermon title and lo and behold–there it was! I had stolen the sermon. They actually copied the web page and placed the copies strategically on the pews the night the church voted on my call.

    1) The sermon post-dated my original. I was the victim of plagiarism.

    2) The only thing the two sermons held in common was the text and the title.

    My point is: it would not be hard to lay a charge of plagiarism at my feet. I don’t even try to be all that original. I simply try to say what God says in the best way I can say it. I’m not publishing my sermons or distributing them so I don’t always give lengthy attributions.

    Most of the people I “steal” from would not be recognized by my congregation and attributions would only clutter the deliver and the point could be lost.

    I’ve explained my thinking to my congregation and they know that I try to make the best use of my 25 minutes (ministerially speaking that is 35 minutes) in the pulpit. They would not find it odd that much of what they hear me say someone else has said before.

    So, I don’t consider this “sermon stealing.” I consider it preaching to inspire. I feel too many attributions would hinder, not help.

    If I ever publish a book of my sermons because I become famous, I will likely do so under a pseudonym and give the millions I make off of the sales to charity — after I buy new red corvette of course.

    • Dave Miller says

      First of all, I don’t use typical sermon outlines, so I almost never use another’s outline. I study and teach the text, so the sermon is pretty uniquely mine. For good or ill, that is how I do it.

      There are some common things that happen: “story-stealing”- preachers tell stories as if they have happened to them when they actually happened to someone else. I consider that unethical.

      If I act as if phrases and thoughts are uniquely mine when I took them from someone else, I consider that unethical.

      Two people with a similar sermon title? Coincidence perhaps. But if I lift a sermon outline from another source, I think that is lazy at best and unethical at worst.

      So, I’m going to have to stick by my convictions and disagree with you disagreeing with me. I know sermon theft happens.

      Odd experience – I did my first wedding about 150 years ago. Then, a few months later a friend of mine was getting married and asked to see the notes to wedding service I had done. I then attended his wedding and sat by the couple I had married.

      About half way through, I asked the couple if any of this sounded familiar. The pastor was reading word for word from my wedding service performed for the couple I was sitting with.

      Discouraging thing, the couple had no memory of what I’d said!

      • Frank L. says

        Dave,

        I cannot argue your logic. The further down I read in this thread, the less inclined I am to “take a bullet” for Brother Land.

        Frankly, I have not examined his statements in regard to plagiarism so I’m going on what I read here.

        I had forgotten about the Beck thing, and that opened some old wounds so to speak.

        I definitely sense that this post is very applicable and provides a very necessary conversation.

        That’s why I read SBC Voices–I’m too lazy to think for myself.

  13. Cody Busby says

    I find the plagiarism charges to be serious, but not critical, since Dr. Land did include links to the articles.

    I find his words regarding people of color to be awful.

    I appreciate the timing of his apologies, but not the content.

    I am in agreement with Ryan Abernathy in that I find Dr. Land’s partnership with Glen Beck to have been outrageously unacceptable. For his actions with Beck he should have been released from his duties. We are reaping the results of our own inaction.

    Theologically, I do not find the ERLC’s work in D.C. necessary, nor advantageous to the spread of the gospel. I too believe the ERLC should be dissolved and its resources used elsewhere. It is my understanding that in the grand scheme of SBC life the ERLC does not cost a great deal of money. However, it seems with Land’s words and actions we have been hemorrhaging credibility for years.

    • says

      Nice. Someone identifies Land’s American Exceptionalism and its ties to Beck. Now consider some of the theological sources and maybe . . . just maybe . . .

  14. says

    I’m not a huge fan of the need for Baptists to have a lobbying office…

    I do believe that some other ministries are included under the ERLC, including groups that equip Southern Baptists to better evangelize among the homosexual community and provide some really good resources. (Not really sure why these are ERLC though, if they still are) So that may need to be considered if some want to shut down the ERLC.

    I have believed for a long while that it was time for Dr. Land to pass on the torch to someone less prone to sticking their foot in their mouth as they represent us. This current situation only reconfirms that.

  15. John Wylie says

    I think that the money arguments are sort of funny seeing how that the SBC wastes an inordinate amount of money it its bureaucracy. There is more money wasted on unnecessary buildings and unnecessary staff both nationally and on the state level. I’m personally for getting rid of all these unnecessary commissions and offices.

    Having said this I think both charges against Dr. Land are much ado about nothing. First he did cite his sources in his broadcast notes making his failing to credited them on the program a minor infraction at best. Secondly, while in some people’s eyes Dr. Lands comments were not helpful insofar as race relations is concerned, I personally think that any reconciliation on any level must be rooted in honesty and there can be no place for political correctness. I personally believe his statements about Jackson and Sharpton to be true. Racial demagogues? Yeah that pretty much sums it up.

    • says

      John,

      I agree with you 100% here…

      It appears to me (just my opinion) that some here simply do not care for Dr. Land, so they take every opportunity to be critical of his ministry.

      I have a question for all those here who are being critical of Dr. Land and the ERLC… “Should not Christians seek to influence the actions and conduct of their government? Or, is the government of this nation best left up to unbelievers?”

      Grace for the Journey,

      • Zack says

        Greg:

        I’ll answer your question and respectfully ask that you answer a question of my own:

        Answer to your question: Christians should seek to influence the actions and conduct of government.

        My question to you: By your question, do you mean to imply that being critical of (a) Richard Land or (b) of the existence of a specific political entity within a denomination is the same ad advocating Christian abstinence from the political arena?

        • says

          Zack,

          To answer your question… “Not at all.”

          I take it you do not approve of Richard Land or the ERLC? So just how would you go about having the SBC express it’s positions to the nation and the federal government if not by a spokesman? If the President has a spokesman to express his views on matters of national interest should not the SBC do likewise?

          But, hey… I’m open to coming up with a better way than the ERLC, but I have not heard anyone offering any ideas as of yet.

          Grace for the Journey,

          • says

            The best way to express yourself politically is to be informed and vote. We do not need the ERLC to express ourselves politically. We need the ERLC only if we want to fight the way the world fights. I don’t think political action committees and lobbyists are what Jesus had in mind for His Church. When we sell our souls to politics this is what happens. You wins up with people like Mr. Land who mouth the party line even when it conflicts with the Gospel.

          • Zack says

            Greg:

            I take it you do not approve of Richard Land or the ERLC?

            Regarding Richard Land: I don’t know him personally. He may be a nice guy. I disapprove of many of his public statements over the years as well as his manner of expressing himself. I do not believe that the way in which he conducts himself in the public arena furthers the cause of the gospel or the reputation of the SBC.

            Regarding the ERLC: I’m not sure that it’s a proper or effective organization or that it’s continued existence is the best use of SBC resources. The purpose of the SBC is to reach the world for Christ, not to advocate political positions.

            So just how would you go about having the SBC express it’s positions to the nation and the federal government if not by a spokesman?

            I really see this as a non-issue, because I don’t see this as a function of the SBC—at least not a major function or a function deserving of a seemingly autonomous lobbying organization. I have two reasons for this position:

            1) There is no shortage of well-informed leaders and lay individuals within the SBC who publicly advocate various moral/ethical positions very well. When the news media seeks comment, they often seek any number of well-respected and less controversial convention leaders, from the president himself, to famous pastors, to the presidents and professors of the various seminaries. If there is an issue of such vital importance to the spread of the gospel that the SBC absolutely must inform the government of its position, let the president or the EC or the messengers at the convention issue a statement, not a full-time lobbyist. We’re not a pharmaceutical conglomerate, or an academic think-take, or an PAC. We don’t need to waste time and money playing the lobbying game.

            2) The duty of the Christian in the public and political sphere is not to abdicate their voice to some elite political strategist in DC, (be it Land or any other individual). If a Christian feels compelled by conscience (informed by the Holy Spirit) to engage politically, let them do so by being informed, by voting, by seeking to be light and salt in their community, by sharing Christ with others and by seeking the change of heart that only comes through salvation and sanctification. Successfully lobbying for a political position may have the outward effect of ensuring compliance with our political positions, but that’s a hollow victory at best.

            If the President has a spokesman to express his views on matters of national interest should not the SBC do likewise?

            I disagree with the premiss of this question. I do not believe that the US presidency should be a model or a measuring stick for SBC’s decisions or structure. The president is there to head a political party, advocate policy positions, and carry out the functions of the executive branch of government. The purpose of the SBC is to preach Christ to the nations.

      • says

        Greg,

        You asked: “Should not Christians seek to influence the actions and conduct of their government? Or, is the government of this nation best left up to unbelievers?”

        Sure! With the gospel and Christian witness, not a lobbying arm funded by Southern Baptist churches.

        I cannot fathom the founders of the SBC ever imagining millions of dollars being spent on an institution like ERLC. There are organizations outside the SBC that can carry our political torches. Let those Southern Baptists who care to participate in politics fund those organizations and let the rest of us fund what the SBC is designed to fund: missions and equipping the saints.

      • John Wylie says

        Greg,
        I really appreciate your response. As I stated before I think that SBC wastes a lot of money in a lot of areas in its bureaucracy. I personally think we have too many local association buildings, too many d.o.m.s, too many employees on a state and national level. But once again both criticisms of Dr. Land are nonsense and I believe the reason he apologized is because of the mounting pressure of political correctness.

        In as much as some of the comments on this stream are concerned, it is obvious that some simply don’t like Dr. Land. All the cries about the money could have been spent on missions are laughable considering I’ve never read any comments by the more outspoken on here taking the SBC to task about the enormous bureaucractic waste. Also most of these guys wanted to go to the tremendous expense of a name change. So the whole “the money could be spent on missions” argument doesn’t have much validity coming from its sources.

  16. William Thornton says

    We need the ERLC. Ever hear of the minister’s housing allowance? It’s continually under assault. ERLC can lay some groundwork there. Religious liberty issues? We need a voice. There is a legitimate function here.

    Land’s act has gotten very old. He doesn’t look well. Maybe he should retire. The plagiarism is troublesome but the race tirades cause genuine damage. Isn’t the SBC trying to improve in this area? Good luck after this mess.

    • Dave Miller says

      I think it would be a very healthy debate to have, concerning the future of the ERLC, once Land is no longer associated. Right now, they are essentially synonymous and you can’t talk about one without the other.

  17. says

    I have been concerned about the role Dr. Land has taken on for himself, and the lack of oversight for his office, for some time now. But in particular, since his controversial comments on immigration last summer. It’s not that I necessarily disagree with all his stances. But he is injecting Southern Baptists into public debates in which we have no business. It is not a healthy thing when one man has the power to speak for an entire denomination and doesn’t have to answer to anyone. (At least not that I can tell.)

  18. says

    Dave Miller,

    I see the following article in the SBC Watchlist…

    Richard Land: Everybody is being mean to me! and it says it’s from the Southern Baptist Convention, but when you click the link it takes you to the The Democratic Underground

    So how does http://www.democraticunderground.com get listed on SBC-Voices under: “SBC Watchlist – Latest From The Most Influential SBC Blogs”???

    Grace for the Journey

    • Dave Miller says

      First of all, as I’ve said several times, I do not control the SBC Watchlist. But Tony added the Google search feature which links to any online article that mentions the Southern Baptist Convention.

      • says

        Dave,

        Don’t get all offended… It just looks “very odd” to have something listed as if it was published by the “Southern Baptist Convention” posted here and then to find out it was something written by “The Democratic Underground”…

    • says

      I’m fine with having the articles in the feed (despite some salty language), but is there any way to limit the number of them that come through the feed. It just seems to be eating up space on the feed. And so when I miss a day or two of coming to Voices, I have to go 3 or 4 pages deep to see if any of the blogs I read have posted new stuff. If we could maybe keep the duplicates off the feed, that would be helpful. I just hate seeing the same article posted 3 or 4 times by different websites. Imagine what the feed will look like during the annual meeting week.

      • Dave Miller says

        I will pass all this on to Tony, but I am not kidding when I say I would have no idea how to do any of what you guys talk about. Tony is the web guru, I just yak.

    • says

      I personally, believe that we’d be better served not to include the Google Search thing in our watchlist.

      Of course that might give me a plan to finally make it on that coveted watchlist. If I can figure out how to crack the Google algorithm and have them flag my articles as “Southern Baptist Convention” then everyone of my articles would appear up there.

  19. Bill Mac says

    Written plagiarism happens unintentionally a lot. Word for word plagiarism in a speech or monologue is most likely not unintentional. Especially when it happens repeatedly, especially when it is done by the ethicist-in-chief of the SBC. And if you will look at Weaver’s blog, you can see that he seamlessly shifts from his own commentary to the plagiarized material and back again.

  20. says

    This is the most recent article on the matter. It is an Associated Press article by Travis Loller (first female Travis that I’ve spoken with).

    Dwight McKissic did a 5-minute interview with Roland Martin this morning on his radio show. It’s up at rolandmartinreports.com

  21. Greg Buchanan says

    I think there is a larger application that we can all take from this personally: are we (any of us) beyond our usefulness?

    Joe McGee stated: The Southern Baptist broke away from this organization and began an orgainzation that truly represented Southern Baptists. Dr. Land was needed in the formation of this ministry. (emphasis mine)

    Nothing for or against Joe, it’s just a quote. But it started me thinking, are some of us serving when we should be moving on.

    Take for example any given pastor who is at a church plant or at a smallish church that is starting to grow beyond 200. Are they struggling with the new layers of organization and procedures that are needed? When it was just a few folks that everyone knew, there was no need for church directories or a full blown line-item budget; they would just informally talk about ministry needs and go get whatever was needed.

    I can probably tend a 1 acre farm by hand. It’d be hard work, but I could do it. When my farm grows to 2, 5, 10, 20 acres, I ‘d better be organized and have some help in place, volunteer or not. And, I’d better be ready to oversee most of the work rather than always be out using a hoe or a plow.

    So the church planting folks don’t think I’m picking on them, are there churches that have plateaued and need a new vision from new leadership. There should be no shame in it, each is called by God for a season, and maybe my time is up here and I should determine what God would have me do. Maybe I should become the AP (I know the people and the area well) and let eh church call a new chief under-shepherd and either mentor or go where he follows. Maybe I should/could go back to seminary for that DMin or finish that MDiv or brush up on Greek; maybe teach a class.

    I think we as American’s look at long tenure as a sign of something going right. Maybe I’m only good at casting visions and the church needs someone else to see it through; maybe I’m really good at planting, but when it starts to grow, they need another pastor; maybe I’m really good at sustaining and this church needs to be in the game, but on the bench for a while (after all there is an offense and defense). All of these people can and are used by God.

    Maybe we need to see that a short tenure is not always equal to a failed tenure.

    • Joe McGee says

      Greg I agree with you. Sometimes ministers over stay their ministry. I stated previously that I teach seminary (adjunct professor) but my main job is serving as an associaition missonary. I have witness several churches that are suffering because their pastor should have retired years ago. They keep on for the finance, however,the church folk will not ask them to resign simply because the pastor has not committed some sin. I have had deacons approach me privately to share that as soon as their pastor retires they will need my assistence in finding a new pastor. They tell me that they wish he would retire because they do not have a heart to ask him themselves (I admire such deacons since they still respect God’s man) . Too often, older ministers do not stay fresh in their studies are in learning new pastoral ministry approaches. On the other hand, some of our best pastors are those who have served their church for 25 – 30 years. One in particular enrolled in our Seminary extension (undergraduate) so that he could remain fresh. Few older pastors are willing to do this. I told my wife to let me know when I should retire. Ministry is my life, however, I do not want to make the same mistake that I have witness in others. To teach, preach, or react in such a way that will destroy a life’s work because I refused to retire at the right time. You young guys need to think about this in the future. Dr. Land was needed during the founding. But I do not know enough to say that he should resign, maybe he just needs to be better supervised by the trustees. Those of you who are quick to ask for his resignation need to remember, that one day you will be older. Do you wish that people would be just as quick to ask for your resignation or retirement simply because of your age or because they do not know the whole picture. We need to be careful before we judge him. Just a thought

      • Greg Buchanan says

        “some of our best pastors are those who have served their church for 25 – 30 years”

        I couldn’t agree more. In my thoughts I forgot to mention that I believe there are some whom God has gifted to start a work and stay there indefinitely (or at least for a good 15-20years) whether it be a church plant or a new chapter in a long existing church. I think Gos has lots of tools in his Craftsman tool box; we just have to be open to the possibility that some of us are used to start a job, some to sustain, and some to finish. Also, I think that God will change us from one type to another for His purposes.

        I agree with you about Land: I don’t know if he should resign now, should have in the past, or some time yet to come.

        Thanks for the interaction.

    • Zack says

      Greg B.:

      So as not to appear to be simply out for blood (or looking to pick a fight) with my comments to you earlier in this discussion: I really do think you’ve brought up a very valid—and often very difficult—point. This is probably an issue more often than we care to admit, especially for ourselves or our ministries.

      • Greg Buchanan says

        Zack – No worries; I jumped in with both feet earlier without checking the depth and I got rightly smacked. That’s what I get for cliff diving :)

        I think part of this issue comes from our American culture: the general goal is to find one job, one task that we can do well, earn enough for our family and some vacation, and then retire. But I don’t think that the church is always an American thing.

        We see a guy with a long resume because he’s had job after job and we think: loser. He can’t stay long enough to learn (and sometimes that is true). But in the church, maybe if we recognize that Bro Billy has been blessed as an evangelist and could start a church plant with goldfish and God bless it with 200 faithful members in 2 years. But Billy is too restless (spiritual A.D.H.D.) to do the next level of organizing because he is really called to just plant churches.

        So Billy has a resume showing he has been at 6 churches in 12 years because God led him to start those works (which are still growing) and he is moving on to the next fertile ground. To see his job history with typical American eyes, we might think failure. And I think failure is the thing that we worry about most.

        Thanks for your comment. And, thanks for the thump earlier :)

  22. Louis says

    The first thing I will say is that if a religious denomination is going to have an agency that speaks to moral/ethical issues, it is absolutely imperative that the organization fairly represents what the people in the denomination believe.

    That is the primary ethical issue, in my opinion, when it comes to denominational life.

    The SBC has done well and done poorly at that, based on its history.

    In the period preceding the CR, the CLC, in my opinion, did not always do a good job of reflecting Southern Baptists’ views. That’s why the CLC was, in some respects, a focal point for ire.

    I find that the ERLC passes this test with flying colors. Not all Southern Baptists agree with all of the views or statements coming out of the ERLC. But the ERLC does, in my view, come very close to representing what most folks in the SBC think about issues.

    • says

      Louis,

      I would tend to agree with your analysis, particularly about the former CLC and now the ERLC representing the views of Southern Baptists. I would give the ERLC a passing grade, but trend line is going down, not up. Without getting into a discussion of what the “majority” of Southern Baptists believe on any given issue, do you think that the face of the ERLC — in this case, Dr. Land — can be a detriment in representing those views to the public at large? We are a morally conservative religious body, so our conservative moral views will not always be well-received by the mainstream media and many within the government. Regardless of who is the President of the ERLC, he will be a target for secular and religious attacks from those who disagree with the SBC’s position on various moral issues. However, I think that Dr. Land, on multiple issues (Glenn Beck rally and the Trayvon Martin case, to name two) has shown such poor judgment that his effectiveness going foward will be diminished. Even if you believe that Southern Baptists still need some type of advocacy presence in Washington, D.C. (which I believe as well), do you allow that Richard Land may no longer be the best person to lead the ERLC going forward? Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  23. Louis says

    As to the ERLC’s continued existence, I think that calling for its end is short sighted.

    It is true that there have been instances (this latest one being such) that have disappointed Southern Baptists.

    But the ERLC serves a good purpose. There are many issues – Religious Liberty, hunger, human trafficking, abortion, justice, where the ERLC plays a very good role. The SBC has a permanent presence in Washington. It can play a role in helping elected leaders know where the SBC stands, and it can provide information to elected leaders in hearings and such.

    It is a tricky calling, no doubt. But I think it would be a mistake for the SBC to retreat into pietisic life. The very missions enterprise we so cherish would be severely affected if we are not strategic about defending the right to proclaim the Gospel, at home and abroad. The ERLC plays a critical role in this.

    There are times when denominational organizations like this overreach, or say things that are unwise or unhelpful.

    There are 4 things that can make the mission of a denominational organization like this unproductive.

    1. Issues are taken on where there is not a strong denominational consensus. (e.g. I think that trying to ban liquor sales fits here).
    2. There is a lack of wisdom about which issues should be addressed or the vigor with which they should be addressed. (e.g. When the U.S. was founded, Adultery and pre-martial sex were crimes. They are sins, but we should not get sucked into trying to make them crimes in this day and age.)
    3. There is a loss of a perception that the organization is as politically neutral as possible. This is very tricky, and it may not always be possible, depending on what secular people (not the religious organization) do. Mother Theresa was always a good example in this regard. She appeared to be above partisanship. Again, partisanship is often raised by politicians in a effort to thwart the effect of religious engagement. So it takes some strength to push through this and not be cowtowed by aggressive and craven politicians.
    4. Unwise statements by the denominational organization or the denomination itself. I understand that people are upset by what Dr. Land has said and by his attribution failure on the air (though not apparently on the show’s website.) But let’s remind ourselves that every year the SBC meets the messengers themselves often pass resolutions and debate issues that make us look foolish. That is not Dr. Land’s fault. That is the price we pay for a democratic polity and an open mic.

    And lest we be too discouraged by what we have, think of how bad things could be.

    1. We could be hosting conferences on sexuality which are nothing more than efforts to abandon or significantly alter the sexual ethic reflected in scripture and affirmed by Christ and the Apostles, or

    2. We could have an ERLC that reads Marxism into Jesus’ commands about treatment of the poor, or

    3. We could be so craven politically that we would actually honor politicians by presenting Bibles to them as an act to affirm something that really secular and not part of the biblical message, or

    4. We could still be stuck affirming an explicit racism that fostered the birth of our denomination and marked us officially for many decades thereafter.

    • Christiane says

      Hi LOUIS,

      I agree with you that Mother Theresa was ‘apolitical’ in her identity with the poor of Calcutta. She seemed quite able to do her work without any symbiotic relationship with a political party. It is strangely true that when she died, the people India gave her a state funeral with military honor guarded procession through the streets of Calcutta. It seemed more of the result of a national emotional outpouring of grief for the death of Mother than any political statement on the part of the government of India.

  24. says

    As a somewhat outside observer having little to no opinion on Land, it appears to me that a lot of what is said here has a background far beyond the two particular controversies.

    Re the racial issues, from what Aaron posted at his site it seems he could have said a lot less! But there are racial demagogues on both sides that are using the Trayvon Martin case. What needs to happen is for people to cool off and let the law take its course. (That and someone be arrested for putting out “hits” on George Zimmerman; at least I think that is illegal.)

    Re the plagiarism, I can’t imagine quoting that much from someone else on a radio program without thinking to give credit. Seems strange to me that you could forget that. But since Land links to the columns he quoted, I also find it hard that he is deliberately out to pull the wool over someone’s eyes. Thus I find Aaron’s judgment of Land’s intent — “to pass off Kuhner’s words as his own” — less than convincing. But the judgment of fact is correct. He did quote someone else without attribution.

    Dave, I don’t think anyone else addressed your comment “…I am afraid that sermon-stealing is more common than we’d like to admit…It is unethical and immoral to do so.” It appears to be extremely common. We all borrow ideas and have years of information from others stuck in our heads (at least if you have a good memory), but to just take over someone else’s sermon and preach it is first of all, lazy, and second of all, unethical. Seems we need to find a middle ground somewhere, since very few of us probably have all that many original ideas (just look at what we decide to blog about) and good be a bit more gracious. For example, I have notes I’ve jotted in my Bible through of which I’ve long since forgotten the source. Many things like that. One example of how I try to rectify it is when I print a book or booklet — not only profuse footnotes, but also acknowledgement in the preface of my dependence on sources that I may have long since forgotten. But the point of that long answer is, I suppose, we have become somewhat numb to the types of plagiarism preachers (and Christians) do. I’m not sure that it is much if any better in the secular world, though, from what I hear.

  25. Troysko says

    What are the odds that Dr. Land will voluntarily step down?

    From my admittedly limited knowledge of Dr. Land, it seems at least *possible* that he’s working on determining the wisest exit strategy–and that his statements of apology so far are not the last we’ll hear.

    • Zack says

      Tony:

      By posting this link, do you mean to imply (a) that there’s a direct comparison between what Richard Land did and what Merritt and others advocate, or (b) that there’s some similarity that needs to be explored? Or, rather, are you merely providing this for further perspective on the issue, since it has been brought up several times in this discussion?

      (Please accept my question as nothing more than a request for clarification. I just wanted to make sure that everybody’s on the same page with your post. If I’ve missed your purpose completely, I apologize.)

      • cb scott says

        “I just wanted to make sure that everybody’s on the same page with your post.”

        Zack,

        Surely you know that in Baptist life, prior to the return of the Lord, your desire will be a complete and absolute impossibility.

  26. SBC Layman says

    It’s a rare man who can keep his ego in check when being wooed by CNN or quoted in the New York Times for his opinion. He can begin to believe it’s his own opinion that really matters. He can begin to believe that his job is to mold the SBC to fit his view rather than to represent the views of the SBC to the world.

    In fact, I think it’s a very dangerous thing for our leaders to be constantly engaged in the world around us on their terms to begin with. The world will always make us look the way they want, and it is usually not pretty. Time and again, we have both official and unofficial SBC spokespersons who believe that they have what it takes to meet the world on their turf and confound them rhetorically. It just doesn’t happen. Southern Baptists may stand up and cheer for our man pounding on the doors of hell, but I think it does little to show people Christ. How are we possibly going to show Christ by being involved in political or cultural debates through the world’s venues?

    How does the ERLC affect the life of an ordinary Baptist? How does the ERLC impact the world around us? We shouldn’t need a spokesman (ERLC, seminary head or other) to weigh in the hot topics of the day and give the “Baptist” perspective. Anyone wanting to know our perspective should ask us when they see the love of Christ we exhibit to the world around us. How many of us have won someone to Christ by arguing against abortion, or against Al Sharpton or by criticizing Barack Obama (views I hold by the way)? The world’s tactics will yield the world’s results.

  27. sbc in pioneer state says

    In an age where political correctness runs amuck… some want to get rid of the voice of reason that helps keep us informted?

    Seems as if opinions are fine on blogs and expected but they are not allowed by Dr. Land or other leaders?

    He apologized and from all indications I’ve seen is most remorseful that he handled himself the way he did.

    I’m priviledged to see Dr. Land a few times a year and he is an oustanding Christian statesman.

    I love the blog’s…. most of the time…. and see their danger as well. Kind of reminds me of the letters from Sandballot and Tobiahs at times in Nehemiah.

    Dr Land stay on the wall you’re doing a great work! (Neh. 6:3)

  28. sbc in pioneer state says

    I should have been a little more clear…. when you speak often… many on here do…. you are going to make mistakes. That’s not an excuse but a reality. It matters how you handle the mess ups… with humility or pride.

    I see Dr. Land displaying humility.

    I also see a much larger need to pray for our leaders and ministries. We are in this together…. just seems like we not together in doing it?????

  29. Rick Patrick says

    Concerning the “Google Search thing” I agree with the esteemed gentleman from Indiana. Concerning duplicate feeds, I agree with esteemed gentleman from Georgia.

    In a terrible parody of a “Top Gun” line: “I feel the need…to lose the feed.”

  30. says

    OK, here’s the deal Land apologized for not giving credit ‘on the air’ as he should have. How many times in a sermon have I added something while preaching that was lifted from someone else and forgot to give credit where credit is due? Several times I’m sure. It was an accident. I almost always say, “As john doe said…” or something like that, but in the excitement of the moment I forgot. Sue me! (I say excitement cause at my age to remember an appropos remark is exciting.)
    BUT, while I agree with much of what Land says, I don’t think the racial quote was anything to apologize for except to say, as he did, He certainly did not mean to offend anyone. BUT, and here I wish I could think of strong enough words, when he stood up with Glenn Beck I was surprised and incredibly disappointed. First because of the political overtones and remotely concerning Beck’s mormonism. I’ll stand with a Mormon for many things; pro-life causes, justice causes, liberty causes, etc. But not ever for theological or soteriological causes.
    I Agree, its time to end the ERLC.
    cd

  31. says

    I think Land should have made clear in the broadcast that he was reading something that someone else wrote. I just find it very funny that all the people who are belly aching about him and how he has wed us to the Republican party (missed the part where that’s a bad thing) never said one PEEP about the obvious, overt support for extreme left-wing politics under Foy Valentine. I wonder why being married to the poliitcal right is bad but being married to the political left is not?

    • Dave Miller says

      Joe, the last thing we need is to be co-opted by the Republican Party. There are enough issues on which I agree with Republicans that I am registered as one, but the GOP is not a Christian organization, nor does it have Christian aims. There are times when the aims of the church and the aims of a political party are divergent, even diametrically opposed.

      And when the CLC was in moderate/liberal hands, there was a constant hue and cry. James Dunn was one of the more controversial and criticized figures in Baptist history.

      • says

        And when the CLC was in moderate/liberal hands, there was a constant hue and cry

        I guess my point is that most** of the cry about the SBC and the ERLC being too right wing is coming from folks who would ally with some or all of the left’s political platform.

        **Maybe not most, but a lot.

    • Dave Miller says

      Let me be specific. A political party is about gaining and maintaining power, and will generally do what it takes to accomplish that goal, including compromise, and all too often, ethical shenanigans.

      The church is about proclaiming truth regardless of how it is accepted, whether it makes us popular or unpopular, whether we win the election or not.

      Maintaining the distinction between my identity as a Christian (and as a Baptist) and my identify as a Republican is very important to me.

      • says

        Actually, I agree. I’d rather not even talk about politics. Well, except for the fact that I can’t stand the political left and all.

        But yes, without a doubt, the Republican party is not Christian and there is no way around that fact.

    • says

      RE: “I just find it very funny that all the people who are belly aching about him and how he has wed us to the Republican party (missed the part where that’s a bad thing) never said one PEEP about the obvious, overt support for extreme left-wing politics under Foy Valentine.”

      Joe, I think you are missing the point here. Number one, a lot of the people unhappy with the current direction of the ERLC or some of the things Land has done or said were not around during the Valentine days. Number two, if we were unhappy with the “extreme left-wing politics under Foy Valentine,” the solution is not necessarily to change that in for right-wing politics. Perhaps it is to get out of the politics business altogether, and throw all our eggs into the gospel business. I don’t hear anyone here (or at least very, very few) saying we would be better with Valentine and the old CLC. That is not the point at all.

      • says

        David Rogers,

        I almost always agree with you… But l am going to have to disagree just this once. If our Founding Fathers had not gotten involved in the messy business of politics we might not have had the 1st Amendment today… and we might all belong to the “Church of America”.

        There are many out there today in politics who would hesitate to squash religious liberty underfoot if left unopposed. We dare not lay down the Sword or the Trowel.

          • says

            Greg,

            If individual Christians want to be involved in politics, I have no problem with that. We should all serve in this world in the sphere and in the way God calls us to do. If someone wants to begin a political lobby with a Christian slant to it, that is fine as well, as long as they don’t confuse political issues with spiritual issues. If they want to take a political position that the Bible does not speak clearly to, just make sure they make that clear. But I don’t see that it is our place as the church, or as the SBC, to get involved in politics or to advocate political positions. Now if we are preaching the Bible, and the Bible teaches it is a sin to kill unborn children, by all means preach that it is a sin to kill unborn children, etc., etc. But leave the lobbying for individuals and for those who set up organizations specifically with that purpose.

      • bapticus hereticus says

        I agree with the conceptual sentiment expressed about the proper role of ERLC, thus I am in agreement with you and Dave, but I think to be consistent the following

        “is not necessarily to”

        needs to read

        “is not to” .

        The ethics arm of SBC should focus on the issue and not the party that may or may not align with the way the convention interprets scripture. Political access has a long history of corrupting voice religious voice.

      • says

        it seems to me that most of the people I hear bellyaching about “Oh, we’re too close to the evil, bigoted, narrowminded Republicans” are the same people that support abortion rights, gay marriage, and giving illegal immigrant a very light slap on the wrist rather than punishing them like the criminals they are.

  32. says

    I agree the ERLC should not be wedded to Republican or Right Wing politics.

    But if the SBC is Pro-Life, opposes abortion, believes in the traditional view of marriage as only between one man and one woman, is Pro-Family, and is for traditional values – guess which side they generally end up on.

    There are obviously exceptions, but many conservative Baptist moral views are also generally conservative political views.

    Exceptions include things that cut across different political parties such as human trafficking, ethics, smoking, beverage alcohol, drugs, gambling, racial reconciliation, war and peace, how best to aid the poor, religious liberty, emigration laws, etc.

    No one is perfect. But Richard Land, Barrett Duke, and the ERLC have done an outstanding job in these areas.
    David R. Brumbelow

    • says

      David,

      Would it not be more efficient and appropriate for Southern Baptists to support their own political views by supporting other private organizations?

      I understand that ERLC can and has done good things for the SBC, I think the issue at hand is more “should” ERLC exist.

      • says

        Joshua,

        I am not sure one way or the other about “efficient,” but I believe it would be more appropriate. At the root, I believe, is a question of Christian unity, and by digression, of denominational unity. We are united in Christ by the gospel. We are often divided by political views. Does that mean we, as Christian individuals, need to be neutral on potentially divisive questions? No. But we should not let our opinions and views interfere with our unity and fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.

        The SBC is a sub-grouping of the Body of Christ. We are joined together by a common commitment to pool our resources and energy toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Because of some denominational distinctives, we don’t always cooperate equally with other Christians in other groups. But we strive to practice unity with all true Christians, to the degree we are able to discern who these may be.

        What brings us together specifically as Southern Baptists, though, is a joint commitment to Great Commission work, and a few denominational distinctives.

        In the SBC, there should be room for both Yankee fans and Braves fans. But that doesn’t mean individual Baptists cannot at the same time be rabid Yankees fans or rabid Braves fans. It does mean that the SBC, as the SBC, should not be in the business of supporting either the Yankees or the Braves, though.

          • says

            lol No worries, it reflected 99% of my view on the matter. I think ERLC is outside the scope of the SBC’s mission.

            Maybe David B. will still reply.

      • says

        I can’t imagine the ERLC will ever cease to exist. The SBC is definitely not going to get out of the advocacy business. Nor should they.

        The question for any Christian organization involved in the public square should be, what is their appropriate role? How do you pursue your mission.

        The SBC isn’t going to reject it’s mission of social engagement in the political arena. What denomination has? The question for any similar organization is “HOW” should that be done.

        I would be absolutely shocked to discover that their is broad support among Southern Baptists for the elimination of an agency with a presence on Capitol Hill.

        Just to add, conservatives generally consider AJ Barton of the old Social Service Commission to have been “one of their own.”

      • says

        Joshua,
        There are a number of good non-denominational organizations that deal with some of these issues. I doubt if any would deal with all the issues Baptists find of special interest.

        The ERLC, I think, is the smallest and least expensive of our SBC agencies. In some ways it could be the most productive. It is invaluable to have someone on the inside that people know and go to for advice. Many times politicians quietly go to people like Richard Land and Barrett Duke to ask the Baptist or Evangelical view on whatever the issue. Many go to their site to get Baptist information on so many current subjects.

        The church, Christianity, church non-taxation, missionary work, religious liberty and so many other issues are constantly under investigation and attack. Among the many pagan, amoral, immoral lobbyists (not saying they all are), we also need a few like the ERLC that are on our side and that understand our side.

        So yes, I believe the ERLC is vital and needed today.
        David R. Brumbelow

        • says

          Thanks for the reply. I just think all of this standing up against the world in the realm of politics needs to be done by organizations outside the SBC. Thanks again.

  33. says

    Here’s the latest on the topic of SBC and race (quotes Nathan Finn a couple times) by Jonathan Merritt over at The Huffington Post. It is titled Richard Land and Southern Baptists’ Race Problem.

    • says

      The whole idea that what he said about Sharpton and Jackson is racist is frankly silly. He wasn’t the first to say it and he won’t be the last. Those two are shameless when it comes to exploiting the misery of others for their own face time.

      Former NAACP leader C.L. Bryant is accusing Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton of “exploiting” the Trayvon Martin tragedy to “racially divide this country.”

      “His family should be outraged at the fact that they’re using this child as the bait to inflame racial passions,” Rev. C.L. Bryant said in a Monday interview with The Daily Caller.

    • says

      I guess that was an unintentionally ironic way to say that too. Granted the guy he was accused of stealing material from isn’t this same person.

      • Joe McGee says

        I don’t think anyone really beleives that ERLC is influenced or run by the Republican party. However, let me correct something that some of you saying. The CLC (Christian Life Commission) was not a liberal organization that Southern Baptist had to disfollowship from. The was the Baptist Joint Commission of Public Affairs who was lead by James Dunn. The CLC was what the ERLC was called before it and almost every Southern Baptist institution name was changed almost wo decades ago. It was felt that by changing the name to another that better reflect the ministry would improve it (Does that sound familar?)

  34. sima says

    The comment by Dr. Land that caused me the most consternation and sorrow was “that seeing young black men as threatening is “understandable” since they are “statistically more likely to do you harm than a white man.” Reading this from the SBC agency head that “speaks for Southern Baptists” causes me to ask a few questions, “Is he saying that is okay to view young black men with suspicion at all times?” How are we to pursue racial harmony when one side is immediately viewed as suspicious and threatening? As an African-American, I accept his apology, but I wonder if this statement has already done its damage, on both sides.

  35. says

    I can understand why Land’s statements would seem offensive, but it really isn’t a statement of opinion on his part as he is citing statistics. Are the statistics accurate or not? Based on things that I have read, there are valid reasons for saying what he said, and again, it isn’t like it hasn’t been said by others before. The article linked above highlighted a quote from Jesse Jackson that I had long forgotten about:

    “There is nothing more painful for me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery — (and) then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”

    Now, that is Jesse Jackson speaking similar sentiments to what Richard Land expressed and if the only reason it is offensive for Land to say it is because he is white then we really are going backwards. If we have come to a place that we can’t comment on observable reality without the charge of racism being hurled about, then we have moved farther from Dr. King’s vision of a colorblind society. This isn’t about sides. I try to avoid gatherings composed of bikers with Hell’s Angels gear and such because I figure my odds of getting hurt in such a situation go up. Frankly it breaks my heart that “young and black” should automatically be considered a cause for suspicion; but getting offended when someone points to the facts of the current situation and acting like it shouldn’t be this way isn’t going to move us in the direction of getting to the place where it won’t be anymore. Maybe we can set to work on finding ways to change the situation instead.

    • Dwight McKissic says

      Jeff,

      No one question the accuracy of the statistics, the question is, do we want the chief ethics officer of the SBC to argue the position that racial profiling is justified? Jesse Jackson strongly opposes racial profiling; therefore, he stated what he stated, but that doesn’t justify racial profiling. And if we go down the path of racial profiling as a convention, are we willing to apply it to every category? If we do unfortunately all races in certain categories will have to be profiled. Seriously, the SBC should not get in the profiling business.

      Dwight

      • says

        Dwight,
        Profiling isn’t the culprit here. My example regarding the Hell’s Angels is profiling, but because it isn’t a “racial group” it shouldn’t be considered any differently. Jesse Jackson can talk about opposing racial profiling, but his own words say otherwise. Is it OK for him to say such a thing simply because of his skin color? Wouldn’t such a stance be a form of racism? Is it OK for him to be relieved at seeing a white man instead of a black man behind him when that implies that he is wary of what might happen if it wasn’t a white person?

        When we profile, it isn’t just done on the basis of race. It is done based on our experiences and the situation at hand. This is why I stay away from Hell’s Angels most of the time, but not all the time. When I am witnessing at the Sturgis Bike Rally and a guy comes into our tent in Hell’s Angels garb, I am excited to get the opportunity to share the gospel with him. It is about setting and context. The state of race dialog in our country as a whole is pretty precarious these days and I certainly understand that. We need to find ways to have the discussions and find the way to move forward to better solutions than what we have tried in the past, because it hasn’t worked.

        I wholeheartedly agree with you that Land’s statement isn’t a stance that the SBC needs to take as a convention and there was no reason for Land to say what he said in the capacity of an official spokesperson for the SBC. He apologized for what he has said. It isn’t the first time he has misspoken and if he continues in his post it surely won’t be the last. So, the answer to your first question is no.

        But actually the SBC is in the profiling business in a sense. We try to identify groups that are less reached with the gospel, whether they be racial/ethnic groups or geographic groups or other identified groups.

        • Dwight McKissic says

          Jesse was expressing the reality that in certain context, you are releived to see a White man or men; in other context you are relieved to see a Black man or men. Richard Land made his remarks against the backdrop of the Martin/Zimmerman case regarding the justification of profiling. Therfore, Jessee’s scenario does not fit the Land discussion.

      • says

        Just as a follow up, I wondered if I can ask you a couple of other questions. I read several of your interactions on this blog a while back (I can’t remember how long ago). My generation has been raised on the ideals that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. espoused about moving into a colorblind society. In my heart, I would love to see it happen. If it can happen no where else, I would think we could at least see it happen in the Church of Jesus Christ. On an interpersonal level, I don’t really have a problem developing relationships across racial and cultural barriers. Those relationships have made me appreciate these issues all the more. But how do we make that possible on institutional levels as in say the SBC as a whole in your opinion? Is it possible to do this in an institutional sense or is it really going to come down to individuals and smaller groups driving the change?

        • Dwight McKissic says

          Jeff, I’m retiring for the night after this. I believe it can happen on the institutional level, but the current persons in power will have to be willing to share power with large numbers of minorities. When that happens we will see the church looking and functioning like the church in Act 13 at Antioch, where Africans, Asians and Anglo’s were represented in the leadership and the congregation.

          I’ll respond tomorrow if you want further dialogue.

          • says

            I would certainly be glad to continue the conversation with you. I appreciate what you are saying. I guess my questions go more to the matter of how can we actually see it happen. These things are much easier said than done, which is at the heart of what I was trying to say earlier. How do we get beyond the idealism and into making these things concrete reality? I hold less optimism for the institutional level than you do I suppose. Yet, I sincerely hope that your optimism sees fruition in reality.

          • says

            Jeff,

            I see you’ve mentioned colorblindness twice. I was wondering if you knew that the “colorblind” thesis is considered among many African-American scholars (and civil rights historians) to be a misuse of King and King’s legacy.

            There are more than a few articles on this subject in academic journals. But here is one article by someone of U. of Dayton that I found available in full-text online:

            http://academic.udayton.edu/race/03justice/justice06.htm#Misusing

          • cb scott says

            Dwight,

            All current arguments aside, I must confess that the first time I met you I did profile you. I also want you to know that I profiled your with absolute equality and with no consideration of race or ethnic background. As a matter of fact, I profiled you in the exact same manner as I did our mutual friend, Robin Foster, having met you guys on the same day.

            Big Daddy,

            When I met Dwight McKissic and Robin Foster I thought to myself; These are really big and tall men with huge chests and major upper body strength. If they get mad at me today and decide to attack me, there is no way to take them on straight-up. If one of them gets their hands on me, I am finished.

            Therefore, my first move must be to break a knee on each one, preferably Dwight’s right knee since he seems to favor his right leg. Then I better move fast and swift on Robin and get him out of the way, because it may take longer with Dwight because he have far bigger forearms than Robin and he will be more dangerous if he gets his hands on me and if Robin is not totally out of the picture, he will certainly kill me for breaking his knee. Besides, Robin may be armed because he ride a Harley.

            So Big Daddy, there you have a completely “colorblind” profile. May we all come to a place in the future where we profile each other not by race, background, or creed, but by how to win the fight if we get in one. :-)

            TO ALL: This was a lark comment and nothing more. Dwight McKissic and Robin Foster are dear friends and it is my good pleasure to know them both. Also, even though I have never meet Big Daddy Weave in person, I like his grit and tenacity, although he is overly bullheaded on some things. After all, he is a Baylorite.

            In conclusion, I do wish King’s dream could come true, especially among the children of God. It is a shame and a great hinderance to the advancement of the Kingdom that it has not and it is to the shame,regardless of denominational affiliation, of all American Christians: Black, White, Red, and Yellow that it has not. I believe there is work to be done among us all to do better than we have to erase this horrible line of division in the Household of Faith in the most free country on earth.

          • Zack says

            Whether or not he advocates the use term himself, I truly believe that Big Daddy Weave is a model for colorblindness: his thumbnail picture is monochromatic.

          • says

            Aaron,
            I used it as shorthand because people generally know what it means when it is said. It certainly didn’t cause any confusion or problems in the conversation last night. I was unaware that a bunch of academics have taken umbrage with the term. I will probably be more cautious in using it going forward thanks to that knowledge. Thanks for filling me in.

  36. Zack says

    Caveat: Dave Miller: I don’t know if you want the discussion here to address the recently-released statement by the EC of the ERLC. After I saw a link to the statement tweeted by SBC Voices, and in consideration of the recent perspective of Ed Stetzer, Dwight McKissic and others, I jotted down a few thoughts. If you feel like this is getting too far off topic, of if you feel for any reason that this comment runs afoul of the new commenting guidelines, please don’t hesitate to prune or delete, as necessary—I trust your discretion as the benevolent dictator of these boards.

    For those who haven’t seen it, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the ERLC released an official statement concerning the controversy, which can be found here: http://ow.ly/anVyC

    After reading the statement closely, I regretfully believe that they have missed their opportunity to address the situation effectively and properly, and I believe that many of their statements may, in the long run, do more harm than good.

    We understand that additional instances of this kind in connection with the Richard Land Live! program may come to light.

    It’s worrisome to speculate why this statement was necessary. If the EC knows for certain that other specific acts of potential plagiarism occurred, then it would have been best to address those instances now, rather than provide vague foreshadowing of future trouble. If the EC simply believes that Land has likely acted in this manner as a routine course of conduct in the past, then his actions need to be addressed more seriously. If the EC is simply trying to hedge their bets and avoid further possible criticism, this could have been worded more artfully and more precisely, so as not to arouse speculation and cause further dissension. Speculation is rarely if ever helpful in these situations, but the statement above only serves to leave the reader wondering what else may arise.

    The Executive Committee is very saddened that this controversy has erupted, and is very concerned about how these events may damage the work of the ERLC in support of Southern Baptists and in furtherance of the Kingdom of our Lord. We also regret any harm that may have been done to race relations within the Southern Baptist Convention.

    I know that this may sound like nitpicking, but when the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of an academically-minded, public policy/lobbying institution issues an official statement, precision of word choice and phrasing is of the utmost importance. That being said, I think that it’s a very poor choice of words to state that the EC is saddened “that this controversy has erupted.” We’re dealing with a situation where the media will be ruthlessly scrutinizing our words and connotations, and apologizing for the existence and the effect of the controversy is not the same thing as apologizing for the content of the words spoken or the specific acts of plagiarism. Furthermore, while race relations “within” the SBC is a serious concern, greatest potential damage done by Land’s remarks will occur outside of our own walls.

    Though the source citation standards prevailing among talk radio shows are different from those applicable to journalistic work or to scholarly work in the academic setting, we nevertheless agree with Dr. Land that he could, and should, do a better job in this area. We therefore support Dr. Land’s commitment to improve his practices in giving credit to authors he quotes.

    This entire statement is unnecessary, confusing, and counterproductive. I can’t read this as anything other than a bizarre attempt to offer some justification for Land’s actions. Seamlessly flowing from your own personal statements to the statements of others and back again without attribution is inappropriate in any circumstance. Any representative of the SBC should diligently strive to be above reproach in every situation, not simply meet the minimum standards “prevailing among talk radio shows.”

    “We would be remiss if we did not recognize the invaluable contributions Dr. Land has made . . . . These things must also weigh in the balance.”

    I understand that many individuals have advocated for varying degrees of consideration for Land’s past service to the SBC. While his record may weigh into the balance of his ultimate legacy within the Convention, I believe it is error for the EC to consider these factors when assessing the seriousness of his present actions or the potential negative impact his continued tenure may have. Land may be a very godly man with many years of faithful service to the SBC, but the EC must guard against allowing such considerations to cloud their judgment in the present controversy. As Dave Miller has stated above, Land’s service to the Convention must certainly play a role in the manner in which we deal with him internally, (e.g., he may be deserving of a hand shake and an honorable retirement, as opposed to a kick in the pants and a shove out the back door), but the severity of the EC’s response must be proportional only to the severity of the actions/damage and not lessened by consideration of past service.

    Finally, my biggest complaint with the EC’s statement comes not from what they said, but from what they didn’t say. Whether or not you believe that a full repudiation of Land’s words is necessary, the ERLC must acknowledge the content of his remarks. Furthermore, whether or not you believe Land’s remarks should have a negative impact on SBC race relations or should be construed as racially insensitive, the effect of Land’s remarks is largely out of his or the ERLC’s or the SBC’s hands. As they continue with their internal investigation, I sincerely hope that they will see that further action is necessary.

    • David T says

      ZACH: “As they continue with their internal investigation, I sincerely hope that they will see that further action is necessary.”

      So you have already determined the outcome of that internal investigation, and made your recommendation. Whew! Now they can save all the bother of actually investigating and making an informed decision about what (if any) action needs to be taken.

      • Frank L. says

        To live above with saints I love,
        O, that will be glory!
        To live below with saints I know,
        Well, that’s another story.

        Not need for the subjunctive: “may be a godly man.”

        Dr. Land IS a godly man and I pray for him as these drive-by assassins shoot from the bushes of blogs with judgmental uzzi’s.

        I wonder if it “may” be possible that some of those who are speaking out against Dr. Land “may” have some personal agenda?
        I

        • Zack says

          Frank L:

          I used the verbal modifier “may” simply because I do not know Land personally. As a spokesman within the world of academia and public policy, the general public (myself included) is typically not privy to him as an individual. If my comments offended you so greatly, as your sarcasm seems to imply, then please accept my humble apology. (If my comments did not offend you, then I apologize for the mis-reading.) I sincerely hope you don’t view me as a judgmental assassin.

          • Frank L. says

            Zack,

            Your post did not offend me and I was not being sarcastic.

            I think you point to the problem: you talk about the most intimate detail of a human life–salvation–yet, you admit you do not even know Dr. Land.

            I’ve met him personally (though I doubt he’d remember). He is a gracious, godly man by my account and all who know him personally.

            It just seems “unseemly” to hang out our dirty laundry without at least allowing it to get a “quick rinse.”

            If you will notice: certain people on this blog and others can say almost anything and anybody that even dares to disagree will meet with great opposition. Clearly, we are celebrity driven.

            I’m simply suggesting that “those without sin cast the first stone.” I’m simply saying: let’s give Dr. Land the best possible interpretation of his life and words, rather than the worst.

            I’m not defending his statements–I’m standing for charity in describing his character — especially when most of those that comment have never even met the man.

            God knows I would not hold up well under the bright lights of bloggers.

            But, Zack, it is not personal and I am not personally offended. Your points are well taken as far as they go. But, you made quite an argument for “precision” in word choice. I hope you will see how “may be godly” could very easily be interpreted as “not really a settled issue.”

            It will take a bit more in my mind to condemn Dr. Land than what others who do not know him–and some who do not like him–say.

          • Zack says

            Frank L:

            I will simply leave you with this: My use of the phrase “he may be a godly man” was in absolutely no way meant to be taken as a comment upon his salvation. It was simply a way of stating that I don’t know the man personally. The intent behind this comment was not to address Land personally—only my opinion on the drafting of the EC’s statement.

            If you ever read a comment of mine on here and it appears to be in the least bit ambiguous or open to interpretation, please grant me some grace and know that it is not, nor will it ever be, my intent to comment upon an individual’s salvation.

      • cb scott says

        Zack,

        David T. is right. You seem to think, according to your words, that this is cut and dried with little left to do other than the gold watch and out the door with Richard Land.

        I can assure you, from personal experience, the duties of a trustee board, as structured within entities of the SBC, will not allow then to act so swiftly.

        Frankly, the statement from the EC of the trustees of the ERLC reveals that Richard Land’s position may be in real jeopardy at this time. From his personal comments and those of the EC, it seems that Richard Land, as well as the board may well know the end is near.

        • Zack says

          CB:

          Please see my response below to David T. My intent was not to imply that any specific action be taken against Land or the ERLC. Rather, my intent was simply to express how the official statement from the EC seemed inadequate to address the seriousness of the situation. I’m not advocating any specific action, only that something more needs to be said officially regarding the situation.

          My statement regarding any possible action towards Land was not meant to imply that his termination was indeed necessary. I was merely commenting specifically on the EC’s comment that his past service “must also weigh in the balance.” If the EC decides that Land should stay and no change should be made to the ERLC, fine. If they decide that it is time for Land to go. Fine. However, I don’t believe it should be a weighing between past service and current actions.

          Regarding the inner workings of SBC trustee boards, I will gladly defer to your expertise and experience. If you read the EC’s statement so drastically differently than I, you may very well be right.

          • cb scott says

            Zack,

            Maybe we are approaching this from inherent perspectives. (No doubt we are.) Nonetheless, please let me state that I am not trying to give you a rough time. The truth is that when a top administrator becomes embroiled in a conflict within the entity or without, the position of trustee becomes very stressful indeed. Every trustee has an opinion. Every trustee has a vote. Trustee leadership seek unity and harmony. Rarely do they get it. It is amazing to watch the specific dramas played out in a trustee board of a SBC entity in situations like this.

            I served on a board wherein the right thing to have done was to have fired the president immediately after certain realities surfaced. Very quickly, it became evident that such would not be the case. The whole process became a verity show with various trustees seeking their own desires above that of the common good of the entity.

            Therefore, based on the statement of the trustee EC and that of Richard Land himself, it is my opinion that the trustees of the ERLC are taking this situation very seriously and, in this case, seeking their words of revelation wisely.

      • Zack says

        David T:

        There’s really no need to be sardonic. I’d be glad to engage in further dialogue on this subject, but I’m not really interested in trading sarcastic blows.

        Please allow me to clarify my statement: I believe that, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the EC of the ERLC needs, at the very least, do something more to recognize the severity and the substance of the situation. I did not in any way mean to imply that any specific degree of action be taken against Land or against the ERLC as a whole. Rather, I was simply attempting to express my belief that I hope that this is not the final word from the EC. As this press release was the first official statement from within the SBC, I felt it was inadequate and required further clarification. As such, my use of the word “action” was imprecise.

        In hindsight, I can see how my concluding sentence is ambiguous and unartfully written. I will strive to be more precise in the future.

          • Zack says

            Mike Leake:

            You have been a model of courtesy and professionalism here on SBC Voices over the past few weeks, and I hope that I can emulate your model in my comments here.

  37. says

    That whole deal with Dr. Land wasn’t too swift; it just goes to show that even a D.Phil. from Oxford is no guarantees against doing something stupid sooner or later. It is always a great consolation to me that my “honest to God doctorate for pastors” (as advertised in the Christian Century in the ’60s for the Univ. of Chicago Div. School, if my memory is serving correctly) is no guarantee that I will always say and speak the most seemly and appropriate thing (when that madness is in me that Solomon mentioned, Eccles. 9:3, until I die). Some times I will take complete leave of my senses just like Dr. Land. I sigh at a fellow’s embarrassing moment, thinking that could have been me with all of my training in Black History and my appreciation for those folks as the great proof of the truth of the Gospel in the modern world. Bet you all didn’t know that. You really should read your church records and every bit of baptist history you can get your hands on. O by the way, did you call know that at one time in church history, Christians were called Atheists? Think about it. When could it have been.

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