Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Right Wing Gets It: Elections Matter Because Courts Matter

For right-wing advocates, big conservative wins in the Supreme Court’s recently completed term have only confirmed the importance of electing a president in 2016 who will give them more justices in the mold of Samuel Alito and John Roberts.  The Roberts and Alito nominations, and the conservative majority created by their confirmations, represent the triumph of a decades-long push by right-wing funders, big business, conservative political strategists, and legal groups to take ideological dominion of all levels of the federal judiciary.

Right-wing groups have long made attacks on the federal judiciary a staple of their rhetoric. Many claim America’s decline began with Supreme Court rulings against required prayer and Bible readings in public schools in the 1960s. Roe v. Wade, and more recently, judicial rulings in favor of marriage equality, have been characterized as “judicial tyranny” and “judicial activism.” Of course right-wing legal groups have been pushing hard for their own form of judicial activism, and have pushed Republican presidents to nominate judges they can count on. 

As Jeffrey Toobin notes in a recent profile of presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz in the New Yorker,

Conservatives like Cruz never stopped denouncing liberals for their efforts to use the courts to promote their ideological agenda, even as they began to do much the same thing themselves. The heart of Cruz’s legal career was a sustained and often successful undertaking to use the courts for conservative ends, like promoting the death penalty, lowering the barriers between church and state, and undermining international institutions and agreements.

Right-wing activists are proud of what they have accomplished, as Richard Land, long-time leader of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told National Journal’s Tiffany Stanley.  As Brian Tashman reports in RWW, Land “waxed nostalgic for the days when President Bush was in office…and especially for Bush’s commitment to nominating ultra-conservative federal judges.”

 “Alito and Roberts are the gifts that keep on giving, and we would have gotten neither one of those without our involvement,” Land said, predicting that Roe v. Wade will soon be “thrown onto the ash heap of history.”

…The Supreme Court’s ruling this year in the Hobby Lobby case shows the Religious Right’s strong focus on the judiciary is paying off.  And Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council told Stanley that conservatives will continue to use the courts as part of their strategy to keep “the barbarians at bay.”

But in spite of their wins, and their success in creating the most pro-corporate Court since the New Deal, right-wing activists are nervous that some of their big wins, like Hobby Lobby and Citizens United, were 5-4 decisions. They want to pad their majority and continue their march to remake America via the courts.

The Senate

Since federal judges have to be confirmed by the Senate, right-wing groups are also using the Supreme Court in 2014 Senate campaigns. An anti-choice PAC, Women Speak Out, followed the Hobby Lobby ruling almost immediately with attacks on Mark Pryor and other Democrats for not having supported the confirmation of Samuel Alito.

On the day of the Court’s decisions in Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, tweeted “Today’s SCOTUS rulings were a win for our 1st Amendment freedoms, a loss for Hagan, Obama, & DC bureaucrats.”

Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who represents right-wing groups, told the Washington Post, “These Supreme Court decisions, it’s a reminder to people on our side of the aisle of the importance of the court, and then the importance of recapturing the Senate.”

Religious Liberty ‘Hanging by a Thread’

Right-wing pundits and organizations are already ramping up their rhetoric on judges as a 2016 presidential campaign issue, with many touting the 5-4 decision in Hobby Lobby as evidence that religious liberty is “hanging by a thread.”

Rush Limbaugh went on a tirade against Hillary Clinton after she criticized the Hobby Lobby ruling:

Can I tell you the truth about the Hobby Lobby ruling?  We're in such dangerous territory in terms of losing our freedom that we cheer when five out of nine people uphold the Constitution.  We're not advancing anything, folks.  We are barely hanging on here.  …  And here comes Hillary Clinton thinking this decision is a step toward the kind of anti-women policy seen in extremist undemocratic nations is outrageous. 

The woman is either a blithering idiot or a total in-the-tank statist, maybe a combination of the two.  But this is not a step toward anything.  This is a temporary halt in the onslaught toward totalitarianism.

We're just barely hanging on.  We cheer! We conservatives stand up and cheer when we manage to get five people to see it the right way.  "Oh, my God! Oh, Lord! Thank you so much, Lord. You saved another day."  Five people out of nine, five said the Constitution means what it says.  The troubling thing to me is the four people that didn't!  Liberty and freedom are hanging by a thread here! 

That theme was echoed by the Archdiocese of Washington’s Msgr. Charles Pope:

“OK, We won. But the Hobby Lobby vote should have been 9-0. Wake up, America. Your liberty is on the line!”

It is simply outrageous that four Supreme Court Justices, and many Americans, cannot see the clear and offensive proposition of the Government in this regard…..We won today, but barely. It should have been 9–0. Wake up, America; your religious and other liberties are hanging by the thread of one vote.

Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer of American Values weighed in in similar fashion:

“While we celebrate this victory, the fact remains that four justices on the Supreme Court, including the two appointed by Obama, evidently share his narrow view of America's first freedom and were willing to trample the religious liberty of millions of Americans in order to advance their radical pro-abortion agenda.

This narrow decision, with four liberal justices eager to go the wrong way, is a stark reminder to every man and woman of faith that their religious liberty is hanging by a thread.

The Court as Right-Wing Campaign Issue for 2016

Right-wing pundits and presidential candidates frequently use the federal judiciary as an issue to excite base voters. Back in 2012, one of the most effective things Mitt Romney did to shore up his weak support among conservative activists was to name a judicial advisory team headed by Robert Bork. That year, Terence Jeffrey, who worked on Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaigns and has written for right-wing publications, wrote:

Three of the nine justices on a U.S. Supreme Court that has decided many significant issues by 5-4 votes over the past decade will turn 80 years of age before the 2016 presidential election.

The three justices are Antonin Scalia, an anchor of the court’s conservative wing, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an anchor of the court’s liberal wing, and Anthony Kennedy, who is often the decisive swing vote in 5-4 opinions….

Bobby Jindal is among the crop of potential 2016 presidential candidates who is making an issue of the courts.  In an interview with a conservative Christian blogger during last month’s Iowa state Republican convention, Jindal suggested if Republicans take control of the Senate this year they would block additional nominees. Asked about federal judges overturning state marriage bans for same-sex couples, Jindal said, ““This shows you the importance of the November elections.  We don’t need this President putting more liberal judges on the bench.”

It is important, whether you are a lawyer or not, to understand what it means for the courts to actually apply the Constitution as opposed for them just to create new laws or to read things and just decide they are going to contradict what the other two branches of government did.  We’ve gotten away from these three separate but equal branches of government and instead we’ve got these activist judges who are overreaching. We have to recognize the problem for what it is,” Jindal added.

He emphasized the importance of elections and their impact on judicial confirmations because sometimes Constitutional amendments will correct the problem, and other times federal judges will just overrule them.

Mike Huckabee has seemingly made attacks on the judiciary a centerpiece of his campaign. In May, he called for the impeachment of an Arkansas judge who ruled in favor of marriage equality. Last year, urging Senate Republicans to block an Obama appeals court nominee, he said, “Judges can linger on for decades after a President leaves office, and a bad one can wreak havoc that echoes down the ages.”

Meanwhile, presidential contender Rick Santorum and the right-wing Judicial Crisis Network are attacking Chris Christie for not sufficiently making right-wing ideology a litmus test for his state judicial appointments.  Santorum told Yahoo News earlier this month, “To see a record as abysmal as Gov. Christie’s record in the state of New Jersey, I guarantee you that will be a red flag for most voters in the state of Iowa, but also most voters in the Republican primary.” (Earlier this month, while in Iowa campaigning for Gov. Terry Branstad, Christie said he supports the Court’s Hobby Lobby decision; he had initially declined to say whether he supported the decision.)  

The Judicial Crisis Network has also slammed Christie, saying his failure to “deliver on judicial activism” may have doomed his 2016 presidential hopes. It has created an entire website devoted to trashing Christie’s judicial record to conservative voters:  www.christiebadonjudges.com. In June, Fox News ran an op ed by JCN’s Carrie Severino using Christie’s alleged failure to appoint right-wing ideologues to the state supreme court as a way to discredit him with conservative activists.

Christie didn’t deliver on judicial activism. Has he doomed his 2016 bid?

If a candidate’s tenure as governor is his road-test for the presidency, Governor Chris Christie just flunked.

As a candidate for governor, Christie talked the talk on judges, vowing to "remake" the New Jersey Supreme Court and to transform the most activist court in the nation into one that operates under the rule of law. 

Despite having the opportunity to appoint four of seven justices on the court since taking office, Christie has repeatedly nominated individuals with no discernible judicial philosophy….

And while elected representatives must stand for re-election every few years, federal judges sit for life. 

Today’s nominee could still be playing the same tricks in 2050 or beyond.  That is why the issue of judges matters so much during presidential primaries and caucuses….

Right-wing advocates have been talking for a while about how important it is to their judicial plans not just to elect a Republican, but to elect a Republican committed to making the kind of Supreme Court nominations they want. In February, right-wing activist Mychal Massie complained that many justices nominated by Republican presidents over the past few decades did not turn out to be ideological warriors (though that is hardly the case with more recent nominees).

But forward-thinking conservatives are keenly aware that we must be concerned about the future as well, and not just because of Obama. Based on age alone, one of the primary areas of concern is that the person elected president in 2016 will potentially have at least four Supreme Court Justices to replace. Two of the potential four are liberals, so a Democrat president would simply be replacing liberals with liberals, ergo, it would be a wash. But of the other two the one is a solid Constructionist, and the other is a swing vote who has, in recent years, ruled based on Constructionism enough times that we should be concerned if a Democrat president replaces him….

As you can see, the potential for the political complexion of the High Court to be changed for decades to come should be of critical concern if a Democrat wins the presidency in 2016. But, it is myopic betise on an epic level to even for an instant believe we need not be concerned if a Republican wins. Especially if it is an establishment Republican….

With Karl Rove and Reince Priebus pulling the strings of the GOP and RNC, the Republican Party resembles a RINO theme park more than it does the Party true conservatives have supported.

With them controlling things from behind the curtain it is not just critical that the next president be “conservative” but he/she must be a legitimate conservative whose conservative bonafides are unimpeachable. It does conservatism no good to elect a Mitt Romney, John McCain, or Jeb Bush type. The 2016 election will place in office a person with the potential to change the face of SCOTUS for many decades to come. And as John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, et al. have showed us — it’s not just Democrats who are betraying us.

Religious Right leaders will certainly be keeping the issue of judicial nominations at the forefront of the 2016 campaigns. This week, George O. Wood, who heads the Assemblies of God denomination, wrote:

Moreover, we should encourage voting because elections have consequences. One of those consequences is that the president nominates judges who serve on district and appellate courts and on the Supreme Court. The U.S. Senate must then approve those nominees. It is a sad fact that no evangelical sits on the Supreme Court—even though evangelicals constitute a very large faith community in America. I suspect that at present no evangelicals could even be nominated or confirmed to a federal bench because they hold views that are pro-life and pro-traditional marriage. People in our Fellowship need to remember that when they cast a ballot, they effectively decide who will sit as a federal judge. Indirectly, they are casting a vote for or against a robust understanding of the free exercise of religion.

Southern Baptist Official Says Satan Is Behind Michael Sam Media Coverage

An article published on the Southern Baptist Convention’s website today asserts that Michael Sam is no Jackie Robinson and that it is Satan’s fault that people are comparing the two athletes.

Writing for the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, pastor David Prince dismisses claims that Sam faces prejudice for being gay since “much of the institutional and structural authority in America is committed to aiding the cultural momentum to normalize homosexuality in all aspects of American culture.”

“Robinson endured hatred and persecution because of his skin color whereas Sam’s homosexuality is a self-identification,” Prince writes. “Satan is pleased with the narrative that Michael Sam is the new Jackie Robinson.”

Jackie Robinson and Michael Sam share the same skin color and are both athletes whose entrance in professional sports caused a stir in the media. And that is where the similarities end.

Robinson was an unquestionable talent who was named rookie of the year in his first major league baseball season. The only thing that had kept him out of the major leagues was his skin color and institutional racism. Sam’s future in the NFL will be decided by whether he is talented enough and not an off-field distraction. Robinson endured hatred and persecution because of his skin color whereas Sam’s homosexuality is a self-identification.



The Spirit of Christ met the challenge of Jim Crow with a call to faith and repentance, and we must meet the challenge of the sexual liberationist movement with that same call. Satan is pleased with the narrative that Michael Sam is the new Jackie Robinson because it is his same old temptation to look at the world without the cross of Christ (Matt. 4:1-11). But the evil one would be equally pleased for Christians to look at the world without the cross of Christ from the opposing direction by declaring war on Sam as a two-dimensional enemy in an abstract culture war as if his failure would be our victory.

That’s not all. Dwight McKissic, a Southern Baptist pastor with a history of anti-gay remarks, wants to pass a resolution at the upcoming SBC annual meeting condemning President Obama and the media for their positive treatment of Sam.

Whereas Jesus warned His disciples concerning the dangers of adversely impacting the lives of children (Matthew 18:6),

Be it resolved that we believe that it is inappropriate for children to be subjected to having to watch same-sex couples engage in public displays of affection while watching a sports-related event on allegedly family-friendly channels. We discourage any further televising of such events. While there is a missing airplane somewhere in the Far East, over 200 kidnapped girls from Nigeria, and high unemployment in America, we respectfully request the President of the United States to refrain from congratulating and extending well wishes to any future homosexual professional sports players, unless simultaneously he is going to make celebratory and well wishes calls to the likes of Tim Tebow, Prince Amukamara—the “Black Tim Tebow,” and AC Green, professional athletes committed to sexual purity.



Be it resolved that the Southern Baptist Convention views it as an unfit analogy that the St. Louis Rams—having recently drafted the first openly homosexual player and the Los Angeles Rams in 1946, having signed the first African American to an NFL contract in the modern era, is indicative of social progress or advancement. To compare the advent of a same-sex attraction player, to an African American player is to compare one man’s skin—to another man’s sin. The Southern Baptist Convention completely, absolutely, and unequivocally rejects the comparison. One’s racial identity is a by-product of biology. One’s sexual identity is a by-product of one’s preference or choice. Therefore, it is intellectually dishonest to compare skin color, with same-sex relational desires. It is also offensive and racist.

Right Wing Leftovers - 1/30/14

  • The Southern Baptist Convention's ERLC will host a conference on "the gospel and human sexuality to equip pastors and church leaders to speak to these critical issues in their own congregations" that is going to feature Mark Regnerus.
  • Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry are in need of prayer.
  • The Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders is out with its long run-down of incredibly vague predictions about what the world will experience in 2014.
  • FRC prays against the legalization of marijuana: "May the American people come to their senses to reject this trend and reverse it!"
  • Finally, Gary Cass delivers a "Spiritual State of the Union" address; it is not good: "[A] small but militant minority is hell bent on destroying all vestiges of our Christian heritage. Marxist / Secularists have prosecuted their 100 year Cultural Jihad to infiltrate the media, education and politics, especially the courts, and impose their secular fundamentalism. The election and re-election of Barack Obama is sobering proof of their formidable influence."

Right Wing Leftovers - 1/9/14

  • Politico profiles "America's craziest governor," Paul LePage.
  • "God is not homophobic." He just doesn't like gays, apparently.
  • Peter LaBarbera unveils the first half of his "Ten Culture-Engaging Resolutions for 2014 for Christians Fighting the ‘Gay’ Agenda."
  • The Southern Baptist Convention's "ERLC Leadership Network is about ministering in the midst of a devil-haunted universe."
  • You too can read and sign the "Declaration of Dependence."
  • Finally, FRC prays that God will move the Supreme Court to "stop the Obama administration from pushing pro-abortion Obamacare down the throat of the American people."

Southern Baptist Official Calls David Barton's Propaganda 'Satanic'

Yesterday, we noted that a top Southern Baptist Convention official blasted David Barton and Kenneth Copeland for their “profoundly ignorant” comments on soldiers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Barton and Copeland advised soldiers not to look for psychosocial help, and instead can simply “get rid of” PTSD by reading the Bible because they are God’s warriors. Joe Carter, the communications director for the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, elaborated in a blog post for The Gospel Coalition.

He calls the two right-wing speakers “fools” who are “among the last people who could be relied on to intelligently interpret a text,” adding: “Their mishandling of Scripture is inexcusable, but what makes it unconscionable is they use God’s Word to shame and berate veterans with PTSD.”

“Barton is still, inexplicably, trusted by many conservative evangelicals, he has himself built his reputation on twisting and misrepresenting historical documents for ideological and propagandist purposes,” Carter writes. “For Copeland and Barton to resurrect this ‘blame the victim’ trope and coat it with the veneer of Biblical warrant is Satanic.”

"Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes." Proverbs gives us two approaches and expects us to use wisdom in knowing when they should be applied.

How then should we answer the fools Copeland and Barton? While it is tempting to ignore them completely, I believe that would be a mistake. Had they merely proffered another laughably inept reading of the Bible, it would have hardly been worthy of notice. Throughout his career, Copeland has been accused of various heresies, most of which he created through his inept handling of Scripture. And though Barton is still, inexplicably, trusted by many conservative evangelicals, he has himself built his reputation on twisting and misrepresenting historical documents for ideological and propagandist purposes. They are, in other words, among the last people who could be relied on to intelligently interpret a text.

Yet many people will erroneously believe that Copeland and Barton speak as experts on the Bible and that their interpretation is the natural result of a literal or inerrant view of Scripture.

To those who are unclear on that point, let me express what I believe is the shared opinion of Biblical scholars, intelligent laymen, and just about anyone else who has ever bothered to read the Bible: Copeland and Barton's application of Numbers 32:21-22 to modern veterans suffering from PTSD is one of the most profoundly stupid interpretations ever uttered.

When those verses are read in the context of the chapter, and in the context of book of Numbers, and in the context of the Old Testament, and in the context of the entire Bible, it becomes almost impossible to imagine how anyone with an elementary school level of reading comprehension could have come up with such an interpretation.



Their mishandling of Scripture is inexcusable, but what makes it unconscionable is they use God's Word to shame and berate veterans with PTSD. Barton and Copeland imply that PTSD is due to guilt over actions carried out in wartime that leads to self-condemnation. This is a profoundly ignorant view of both the causes of combat-induced PTSD and the motivations behind medical and psychological based treatment.

PTSD is psychological trauma that can change how the brain and mental processes function. While in combat, veterans are exposed to the stresses of hyper-violence while living in a near constant state of hyper-vigilance. As psychiatrist Jonathan Shay explains in Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character:

A human enemy strikes not only at the body but also at the most basic functions of the human mind. The Vietnamese enemy defeated the soldier's perception by concealment and his ability to understand what he saw by camouflage. The basic mental state of intention and will was attacked by ambush, deception, surprise, and anticipation . . . . The cumulative effect of prolonged attacks on mental function is to undermine the soldier's trust in his own perceptions.

On returning from combat, the veteran is no longer exposed to violence, yet the reflex for hyper-vigilance -- whether conscious or subconscious -- may remain intact and beyond the person's control. "Exposed to continuous threats of warfare," says Shay, "the body remains mobilized for battle indefinitely." Veterans suffering from PTSD can lose some of the authority over mental processes, such as perception and memory, which civilians take for granted.

Throughout most modern wars, from World War I to Vietnam, both the military and civilian worlds denied or downplayed the existence of this form of psychological trauma. It wasn't until the post-Vietnam era that the medical community began to recognize that experiences of PTSD sufferers were not only real, but also that the causes were likely rooted in genes and brain chemistry, rather than a defect in the veteran's character.

For Copeland and Barton to resurrect this "blame the victim" trope and coat it with the veneer of Biblical warrant is Satanic. Christians need to counter this demonic, gospel-destroying message by letting the men and women who are suffering from combat related PTSD know what the Bible really says about hope, healing, and deliverance through Christ Jesus.

Southern Baptist Spokesman Condemns Barton And Copeland For 'Shocking And Unconscionable' PTSD Remarks

David Barton is coming under fire from the Southern Baptist Convention, with a spokesman for the conservative denomination’s political arm condemning the pseudo-historian’s recent remarks on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The right-wing activist recently spoke to televangelist Kenneth Copeland about PTSD, suggesting that soldiers are warriors for God and therefore should never suffer from such a condition. They advised against psychological help and said that simply reading the Bible will “get rid of PTSD.”

Joe Carter of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said their remarks demonstrate how Barton and Copeland are “profoundly ignorant about theology and history,” arguing that by “downplaying the pain of PTSD” they have “denigrate[d] the suffering of men and women traumatized by war.”

Carter, who also writes for The Gospel Coalition and The Acton Institute, added: “[F]or them to denigrate the suffering of men and women traumatized by war — and to claim Biblical support for their callow and doltish views — is both shocking and unconscionable.”

Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton, whose book Getting Jefferson Right helped convince Thomas Nelson to pull Barton’s book on Jefferson from publication, noted that Barton and Copeland’s “naïve and potentially offensive” comments show “they do not have knowledge of the condition.”

PTSD has been a recurring issue among military veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs classifies PTSD as a mental health problem that can occur after a traumatic event like war, assault, or disaster. In 2011, 476,515 veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD received treatment VA medical centers and clinics.

“Just telling someone to get rid of it is naive and potentially offensive to someone who is suffering with PTSD. It is obvious that they do not have knowledge of the condition,” said Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City College psychology professor who has written on Barton. “Copeland and Barton err theologically as well by taking specific Scriptures written in relationship to Israel and apply them to American armies.”

This isn’t the first time Copeland and Barton have been “profoundly ignorant about theology and history,” said Joe Carter, an editor and communications director for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

“But for them to denigrate the suffering of men and women traumatized by war — and to claim Biblical support for their callow and doltish views — is both shocking and unconscionable,” Carter said. “Rather than downplaying the pain of PTSD, they should be asking God to heal our brothers and sisters.”

Russell Moore: 'I'm Not Seeking A Pullback' From Politics

Religious Right activists were none too pleased with Dr. Russell Moore’s interview with the Wall Street Journal, fearing that the new leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is throwing them under the bus. On his personal blog, Moore took issue with the article’s title, “Evangelical Leader Preaches Pullback From Politics, Culture Wars,” calling it “awfully misleading.”

In an interview with The Christian Post, where his ERLC predecessor Richard Land serves as executive editor, Moore reassured conservatives that in no way is he steering Southern Baptists away from political activism.

Much like Republicans who called on the GOP to only change their tone but not their actual political positions, Moore explained that he is “not seeking a pullback” from politics but instead a shift to less hateful and bellicose rhetoric:

Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, clarified some misleading information from a profile of him in The Wall Street Journal, and praised his predecessor, Dr. Richard Land, in a Wednesday interview with The Christian Post.

The Wall Street Journal article was titled, "Evangelical Leader Preaches Pullback From Politics, Culture Wars." In the article, reporter Neil King Jr. appeared to suggest that Moore, who was recently inaugurated to head the SBC's public policy advocacy group, wanted Southern Baptists to be less involved in politics, while adding that Moore is not "seeking to return the Southern Baptists to a past in which it shunned politics entirely."

Moore clarified, though, that he thinks Christians should be more involved, not less involved, in politics, and he is also concerned with how they are involved. "I'm not seeking a pullback," he said. "I'm seeking a change in priority, which means a wide and deep political engagement, but a political engagement that keeps Christ at the forefront. A gospel-centered, kingdom-focused political engagement is what is needed."



Another part of the WSJ article suggested that Moore would avoid controversial issues like gay marriage and abortion. King wrote that Moore's "advice meshes with those in the Republican Party who want the GOP to back off hot-button cultural issues to stress themes such as job creation and education."

"Goodness no," Moore responded, "I don't avoid issues that are controversial. As a matter of fact, I'm engaging in issues that are controversial every day, from abortion and same-sex marriage all the way through to questions of surrogacy and immigration reform."

The goal is not to avoid controversial issues, Moore explained, but to communicate on those controversial issues in a way that mirrors Jesus, which means that Christians should not hate those they disagree with.

"We disagree and we disagree strongly, but we don't hate the people who are opposed to us. The issue is whether or not we communicate the way Jesus did – convictionally, but with the sort of kindness that recognizes our ultimate goal is the gospel."



Moore was dealing with the controversial transgender issue long before it became a hot topic in California and other places, he recalled.

Many of the recent media profiles of Moore since he took the helm at ERLC have emphasized the differences between him and his predecessor, Dr. Richard Land, who recently became president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and has continued his position as executive editor for The Christian Post. Moore believes it is only natural for the media to be interested in what is different during a transition, but also suggested that the differences have been overplayed.

"It's expected," he said, "that people would look at a transition, particularly a generational transition, and seek to mine the points of difference. But there are so many points of commonality."

Just a few issues, Moore explained, in which "Dr. Land and I are exactly the same" include human life, the centrality of marriage, racial reconciliation and justice for immigrants.

In writing about the differences between himself and Land, Moore believes that some miss "the way that Richard Land was himself quite a prophetic voice in many places, who was unwilling to simply attach Bible verses to whatever his allies were putting in front of him."

Rep. Steve Stockman: Immigration Reform Will Destroy GOP and Help Obama 'Destroy America'

The House GOP’s resident provocateur Steve Stockman (R-TX) appeared on The Steve Deace Show yesterday to urge his fellow Republicans to oppose immigration reform because Latinos typically vote Democratic. Stockman mocked the claims of pro-reform conservatives who believe that many Latinos would back the GOP if the party backed away from its hard-line stance on immigration reform, while noting that reform efforts would only help Obama in his plan to “destroy America.”

Stockman: Their advice is: allow this to happen and they will somehow overnight turn into Republicans. I can assure you, if these people were voting Republican, the Democrats wouldn’t want a single person to be legalized, not one, and yet we are somehow fooling ourselves believing that they are magically going to go into a corner and turn into Republicans. It’s not going to happen.

Deace: Why would anybody think that Charles Schumer and Bob Menendez and John McCain, that all the sudden these people that you’re going to do this photo-op with that have already shown they have no regard for the rule of law where this issue is concerned, people like me are just looking at it from the outside in and thinking: why would I support anything they support? When David Axelrod goes on national television and says this issue is Obama’s legacy, pardon me if I’m a little skeptical of fueling the legacy of a guy—

Stockman: To destroy America

Deace: Who thinks that the Constitution is—he just puts it through a paper shredder. Exactly, I don’t get this.

He also lashed out at groups such as Focus on the Family and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is led by Richard Land, for supporting the pro-reform Evangelical Immigration Table. Stockman said that such social conservative organizations are unwittingly pushing the Republican Party’s demise, imperiling the Religious Right’s political agenda and creating permanent Democratic majorities.

Stockman also accused NPR of calling undocumented immigrants “unregistered citizens,” a charge we haven’t found any evidence to back up, and said that it is like calling drug dealers “unregistered pharmacists.”

I’m upset with our own guys. I’m shocked that Focus on the Family and Richard Land, I’ve been in their camps and worked with them a long time, are coming out against us and saying they’re for legalizing twelve million unregistered Democrats, or as NPR calls them ‘unregistered citizens,’ that’s the new term they are using now. I was really appalled at NPR, government-controlled radio, says they are ‘unregistered citizens.’ I guess drug dealers now are unregistered pharmacists. It’s bizarre. I’m a little bit upset with our side so I’m taking bullets on both the right and the left for my stance. I have a dear friend, he came from Lebanon, he took fifteen years to follow our laws, he respects our laws, he is abiding by our laws, if we go and say ‘okay you guys that break the law now get to cut in front of everybody else that’s been waiting in line,’ what kind of message are we sending to the rest of the world?

Reagan allowed a million illegal immigrants at that time and after he did that two things happened: 1) they voted primarily and increasingly for the Democrats; 2) ten million more came in. The system is if we pass this it’s going to increase illegal immigration and it’s also going to turn Texas, Florida into Democrat states, we will never keep the White House and the entire agenda of Focus on the Family and Richard Land that is pro-life and all those things that we hold dear are going to be washed away because of the stupidity and the folly of granting citizenship to people who have not a clue about how our system is or the principles. They are saying here this is the rope, please put it around your neck and then jump off the tree and young hang yourself. It’s just bizarre that we’re so willingly doing that and a little bit frustrating.

SBC's First Black Leader Teams up with Group that Says African Americans 'Rut Like Rabbits' and Calls Obama a 'Street Thug'

Earlier this summer the Southern Baptist Convention was embroiled in a fiasco over SBC “chief ethicist” and political activist Richard Land’s racially inflammatory comments regarding President Obama and the Trayvon Martin case, remarks that later turned out to be plagiarized. After initially refusing to apologize, Land ultimately apologized, lost his radio show and announced his retirement.

One of the people who pressed Land to apologize was Dr. Fred Luter Jr., the African American pastor who was later elected to head the SBC. Luter said of Land’s comments at the time, “It doesn’t help. That’s for sure.”

Luter is now slated to appear at a Religious Right simulcast, iPledge Sunday, hosted by the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, a group whose very own spokesman and Director of Issues Analysis for Government and Public Policy, Bryan Fischer, has used racially offensive language just as bad if not worse than Land’s, and far more frequently.

The group Faithful America is asking Luter to cancel his appearance at the event whose organizer proudly promotes “racial rhetoric to demonize President Obama.”

The Rev. Fred Luter Jr. is the first African American to serve as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He helped get the denomination to formally apologize for its racist history and even rebuked a fellow Southern Baptist leader for making offensive comments about the killing of Trayvon Martin.

When Rev. Luter was elected this summer, he said that the racial rhetoric used to criticize President Obama shows "that we have a long, long, way to go in America as far as racial reconciliation." Now he has an opportunity to stand up and show real leadership by pulling out of this event and disavowing the hateful rhetoric of his fellow conservative evangelicals.

Rev. Luter: If you want the Southern Baptist Convention to overcome its racist past, you must cancel your appearance at iPledge Sunday and denounce the religious-right extremists who've used racial rhetoric to demonize President Obama.

Fischer, a birther and conspiracy theorist who has defended the three-fifths compromise and regularly refers to Obama as an imam, a dictator and a Hitler clone, has said that:

  • Obama is a racist: “President Barack Obama nurtures this hatred for the United States of America and, I believe, nurtures a hatred for the white man.”
  • Obama is like a “street thug” and a “juvenile delinquent” who is “destroying America.”
  • Obama’s re-election will lead states to “talk about secession” and warned the health care reform law may bring about armed revolt “to resist the tyranny imposed on us.”

In addition, Fischer claimed that African Americans “rut like rabbits” due to welfare.

Welfare has destroyed the African-American family by telling young black women that husbands and fathers are unnecessary and obsolete. Welfare has subsidized illegitimacy by offering financial rewards to women who have more children out of wedlock. We have incentivized fornication rather than marriage, and it’s no wonder we are now awash in the disastrous social consequences of people who rut like rabbits.

Fischer even alleged that African Americans are “like drug-addled addicts.”

The only reason we can see why the Democrat Party still has support in the African American community is because the Democrat Party promises them more goodies, the Democrat Party is handing out stuff, basically getting them addicted. It’s like the government is one big giant methadone clinic and they’re just handing out these injections to people in the form of welfare benefits to get them hooked, so they got to hook up with their supplier once a month, they got to get their fix, they got to hook up with their dealer on a street corner once a month and get their fix from the federal government. They’re like drug-addled addicts and the Democrat Party has gotten them addicted to welfare benefits. That apparently is the only reason they continue to support this party.

Luter rightfully led the SBC to reprimand Land over his inflammatory comments, but partnering with the AFA and its racially-charged rhetoric directed at Obama and the African American community only undercuts his message of racial reconciliation.

Richard Land Ends Radio Show in wake of Trayvon Martin Rant, Plagiarism Charges

Southern Baptist Convention’s chief “ethicist” Richard Land signed off from his weekly radio broadcast on Saturday without mentioning why he was leaving the show. He simply stated that his program is ending “due to a variety of circumstances” and asked people to pray for a “spiritual reformation” in America. Land lost his show due to his racially-insensitive tirade about the Trayvon Martin shooting, which he vowed to never apologize for until he eventually did, and for plagiarizing commentaries on his show, including part of his remarks about the Martin.

While the SBC trustees reviewing Land’s radio show said that plagiarism was one of the “practices that occur in the radio industry,” even Religious Right talk show host Steve Deace said in an interview with The Tennessean that plagiarism is not common practice on radio shows, contradicting the trustees’ claims:

Trustees claim that Land was following practices that are common in the talk radio industry.

But Steve Deace, a syndicated Christian radio host from Des Moines, Iowa, said that’s not the case.

He said that radio hosts sometimes hear other people’s turns of phrases and repeat them when talking about issues. But they don’t read word for word from other people’s work.

If a host does that, then listeners will eventually catch them at it.

“They are going to know if you are lifting stuff from people,” he said.

Blogger Aaron Weaver, who first caught instances of Land’s plagiarism, pointed out that Land not only didn’t cite the authors of the articles but was actually “adding extra comments and using different adjectives” to pass commentaries off as his own. Indeed, when he initially defended his racially-charged rant regarding the Trayvon Martin shooting, Land never mentioned in his non-apology that he was reading from a Kuhner column.

Weaver and Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics think the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which Land leads, should have been tougher on Land, especially considering the fact that Land teaches at a university where students who commit plagiarism can be expelled:

Weaver, a graduate student at Baylor University who blogs at thebigdaddyweave.com, said that trustees were wrong when they said the plagiarism was a result of “carelessness and poor judgment.”

“He wasn’t being careless,” he said. “This was intentional.”



Robert Parham of the Nashville-based Baptist Center for Ethics said that Land’s radio show should have been canceled years ago. He said that the show was more about politics than about religion or ethics.

Allowing Land to keep his job, despite the plagiarism, sends the wrong message, said Parham.

Along with being the head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Land also teaches regularly at Baptist seminaries.

“Allowing Land to continue as an SBC official — without even an unpaid leave of absence — will create a banquet of distasteful consequences for the Southern Baptists when it comes to how seminaries deal with students who plagiarize papers and how churches deal with pastors who plagiarize sermons.”

Richard Land Loses Radio Show over Racially-Charged Remarks, Plagiarism Scandal

The Southern Baptist Convention’s top “ethicist” Richard Land, a major Religious Right figure and cheerleader for the GOP, is about to lose his radio show, Richard Land Live, as a result of using racially-charged comments while describing the Trayvon Martin shooting and plagiarizing his material.

Back in April, we reported that the leader of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) said that African American “race hustlers” were using Martin’s death to “gin up the black vote” for President Obama, whom he said “poured gasoline on the racialist fires.” After his remarks generated controversy, as his denomination has been working to improve its relationship with the black community as a result of its racist past, Land pledged to never apologize. Later, Land issued a non-apology apology that blamed others for having “misunderstood” him, which only intensified the outcry from black pastors in the SBC.

Moreover, Baptist blogger Aaron Weaver found that Land plagiarized part of his remarks on the Martin shooting from a Washington Times column, and also plagiarized columns from other conservative publications like the Washington Examiner and Investor’s Business Daily in previous broadcasts. The ERLC promptly pulled his radio show archives off his website while Land tried to claim that it isn’t plagiarism when other people’s words are lifted on the radio.

Land eventually offered a second apology and the ERLC launched an investigation, and today released two reprimands for Land’s racially-insensitive remarks and “for quoting material without giving attribution.” The ERLC said Land’s “hurtful, irresponsible, insensitive, and racially charged words” regarding the Martin shooting had “re-opened wounds,” and acknowledged “that instances of plagiarism occurred because of his carelessness and poor judgment.”

The ERLC concluded that “the content and purpose of the Richard Land Live! broadcast” are “not congruent with the mission of the ERLC” and will be pulling the show once its contract with Salem Radio Network ends:

We reprimand Dr. Land for his hurtful, irresponsible, insensitive, and racially charged words on March 31, 2012 regarding the Trayvon Martin tragedy. It was appropriate for Dr. Land to issue the apology he made on May 9, 2012 and we are pleased he did so. We also convey our own deepest sympathies to the family of Trayvon Martin for the loss they have suffered. We, too, express our sorrow, regret, and apologies to them for Dr. Land's remarks. We are particularly disappointed in Dr. Land's words because they do not accurately reflect the body of his work over a long career at the ERLC toward racial reconciliation in the Southern Baptist Convention and American life. We must now redouble our efforts to regain lost ground, to heal re-opened wounds, and to realize the dream of a Southern Baptist Convention that is just as diverse as the population of our great Nation.

We further reprimand Dr. Land for quoting material without giving attribution on the Richard Land Live! (RLL) radio show, thereby unwisely accepting practices that occur in the radio industry, and we acknowledge that instances of plagiarism occurred because of his carelessness and poor judgment. We examined Dr. Land's written work during the investigation, and we found no instances of plagiarism in any of Dr. Land's written work. As a Christian, a minister of the Gospel of our Lord, and as President of the ERLC, Dr. Land should have conformed to a higher standard. We expect all future work of the ERLC to be above reproach in that regard.

Finally, we have carefully considered the content and purpose of the Richard Land Live! broadcast. We find that they are not congruent with the mission of the ERLC. We also find that the controversy that erupted as a result of the March 31 broadcast, and related matters, requires the termination of that program. We hereby announce that the Richard Land Live! radio program will end as soon as possible within the bounds of our contracts with the Salem Radio Network.

Richard Land Blames the Devil for the 'Homosexual Lifestyle'

National Organization for Marriage’s Jennifer Roback Morse stopped by Richard Land Live this weekend, where the embattled head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission claimed that homosexuality has demonic origins. Land chatted with a caller who thanked him and Morse for fighting the “demon of homosexuality,” and Land agreed with her that “the Devil takes pleasure in anything that causes destruction in human society and the homosexual lifestyle does cause destruction.” He went on to claim that homosexuality was at least partly responsible for the collapse of empires in the past:

Caller: My comment is that I thank God for you all for standing up for God’s holiness and righteousness against this demon of homosexuality. My pastor past but he once said that this demon will be the last one to leave this earth because it is so strong and over in all of the New Testament and coming up to now it’s—

Land: Let me just say that first of all that the Devil takes pleasure in anything that causes destruction in human society and the homosexual lifestyle does cause destruction. It’s seen as one of the evidences in the decline of every empire we have seen; studies have shown it became rampant in the Persian Empire, the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, the British Empire.

Land and Morse said that they are working against a “secular theocracy” and “sexual nihilists,” with the SBC’s top “ethicist” maintaining that America is witnessing a return to “paganism” where homosexual priests worshiped sex:

Morse: What we learned in California in the marriage fight is that the secularist thrust, I don’t even know what to properly call it, Richard, maybe you have a good name for it, but the secularists, the sexual nihilists.

Land: It’s a secular theocracy is what it is.

Morse: Yes, that’s exactly—

Land: It’s a secular theocracy driven be a full-blown pagan understanding of human sexuality. It’s just pagan.

Morse: When you say pagan, what do you mean by pagan? I can imagine what you mean.

Land: I mean totally focused on self, anything that feels good do it, just like the Greco-Roman orgies of the 1st Century and 2nd Century AD; same thing that our early Christian forefathers faced.

Morse: That’s very true, the hedonism, the hedonistic aspect of the culture. What I wondered you were going to say is full-on paganism I would think of as somehow worshiping sex, as sex taking on a kind of sacramental role.

Land: As you know many of the Roman religions, the idolatrous religions were sexual, and the priests were homosexuals and they worshiped in Corinth they had homosexual priests had these temples that were pre-Christian paganism.

Southern Baptist Convention's Political Arm Pushes Opposition to the Violence Against Women Act

While the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is mired in scandal resulting from ERLC head Richard Land’s repeated plagiarism and inflammatory remarks on race, it has found time to criticize the Violence Against Women Act. Doug Carlson, manager for administration and policy communications for the ERLC, voiced the group’s opposition to the highly successful law because of new provisions that ensure that LGBT victims of domestic violence do not encounter discrimination while seeking help.

Carlson quoted a letter Richard Land signed along with Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, Jim Garlow of Renewing American Leadership Action, Tom McClusky of Family Research Council Action, C. Preston Noell of Tradition, Family, Property Inc., Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum and Penny Nance and Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America.

Notably, the letter was also signed by conservative activist Timothy Johnson, who was convicted of a felony domestic violence charge and was arrested a second time for putting his wife in a wrist lock and choking his son, as reported by Sarah Posner.

Carlson writes:

Under the reauthorization, VAWA, as the bill is known, would spend vast sums of taxpayer money—more than $400 million each year—on programs that lack sufficient oversight and fail to address the core issue of protecting vulnerable women from abuse. Many of the programs duplicate efforts already underway. Among other problems, it would expand special protections to include same-sex couples. Men who are victimized by their male sexual partners would receive the benefit of the law above heterosexuals. And with broadened definitions of who qualifies for services, those who are most in need of the bill’s protections would have diminished access to it.



Pro-family groups, too, have been leveling attacks on the bill for months for its anti-family policies. Many of them expressed those concerns to the Judiciary Committee in February in hopes of derailing the bill. “We, the undersigned, representing millions of Americans nationwide, are writing to oppose the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA),” Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land, along with nearly two dozen other religious and conservative leaders, wrote in a Feb. 1 letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “This nice-sounding bill is deceitful because it destroys the family by obscuring real violence in order to promote the feminist agenda.”

“There is no denying the very real problem of violence against women and children. However, the programs promoted in VAWA are harmful for families. VAWA often encourages the demise of the family as a means to eliminate violence,” they added.

Regrettably, a slim majority of committee members rejected that counsel, ultimately approving the bill in February on a narrow 10-8 vote. Now the battle lies in the full Senate, where those opposed to the new VAWA are facing significant pressure to support it. Allies of the bill are tagging its opponents as waging a “war on women.”

But no matter how noble its title suggests, the Violence Against Women Act is the wrong answer to addressing ongoing domestic abuse. With a shortage of evidence to date of VAWA’s success in reducing levels of violence against women, the war to decrease such violence and to ultimately strengthen the family shouldn’t include reauthorizing a flawed policy that promises an expansion of the same.

Black SBC Pastor Condemns Land's 'Damaging, Alienating and Offensive Words' about Race

It appears that Richard Land’s non-apology backfired, badly, as the Religious Right leader and chief ethicist of the Southern Baptist Convention is quickly doing damage control following his explosive racial comments on President Obama and the Trayvon Maritn case and accusations that he repeatedly plagiarized conservative columnists during his radio show. Initially, Land took a defiant stance and criticized his detractors, but then issued two statements expressing his “regret” that he “overestimated the progress that has been made” on race relations, and he admitted not to plagiarizing but simply failing “to provide appropriate verbal attributions” during his show. As Kyle pointed out this morning, Land is now facing an investigation by the Executive Committee of the ERLC and also took down the archives of his radio show, ostensibly due to “the danger that such unauthorized use by news agencies or others might include quoted material used by Dr. Land without clear and proper credit being given to the author or source of the quoted material.”

Yesterday, Dwight McKissic, a prominent African American pastor in the SBC who has received attention for his virulently anti-gay views, slammed Land for his initial remarks and his condescending non-apology, and even threatened to boycott future SBC meetings if Land is not repudiated. He even said that Land was reviving the racist “curse of Ham”:

Richard Land’s racial remarks against the backdrop of the Trayvon Martin tragedy are the most damaging, alienating, and offensive words about race that I’ve read or heard, rendered by a SBC personality, in the twenty-eight years that I’ve served as a SBC church planter/pastor.

The pain that Richard Land inflicted upon Blacks in the SBC is a pain that would be only felt greater by the pain inflicted upon Trayvon Martin’s family by George Zimmerman. In his non apology—apology, he blames those of us who responded to his racial views, for the pain we felt. The opening line in his letter of apology, dated April 16, 2012, says, “I am writing to express my deep regret for any hurt or misunderstanding my comments about the Trayvon Martin case have generated.” He then blames his readers and listeners for not being “progressive” enough to be on the same page with him racially.



I remain appalled at his unrepentant words. And since Dr. Land will not repent of his words, I feel compelled to ask the SBC by way of resolution to repudiate and renounce the racially offensive, biblically unjustifiable and factually incorrect words of Dr. Richard Land. He spoke these words as an official of the SBC; therefore, the SBC must take ownership and responsibility for Dr. Land’s words. I could not with a good conscience attend a SBC meeting in the post Luter years, or increase giving to the Cooperative Program as long as Land’s words remain un-repented of. To do so would be to engage in self-hatred; the exercise and practice of low self-esteem; to support Land’s view of racial profiling and his flawed racial reasoning.

What was even more troubling to me than Land’s remarks, was his assertion that the vast majority of Southern Baptists agree with his racial views. If he is accurate in his assessment, it confirms the suspicion that many Black Baptists have held for years regarding Southern Baptists; and that is many Southern Baptists, if not the majority, inherently and instinctively don’t honestly respect, relate to or view Blacks with a mindset of mutual respect, equality and understanding. Blacks are primarily viewed as mission projects, not as mission partners. Inadvertently, Dr. Land opened to us the window of his heart and showed us this painful reality (Mark 7:20-23). The question now is, did Richard Land show us the heart of the entirety of the SBC?

To read Land’s initial comments and his apology is painful, shameful and heartbreaking for many of us. Now the SBC must take ownership of Dr. Land’s words, because according to Dr. Land, his words reflect the views of his constituency. There are three reasons why I believe the SBC must repudiate Dr. Land’s remarks; or I, for one, will remove myself from SBC gatherings.



As I’ve listened to Black Baptists discuss Land’s comments, I believe his most offensive remark related to his belief in justified racial profiling. The SBC must repudiate the profiling comment, if nothing else. According to the prosecutor and investigators in Florida, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed because of Zimmerman’s profiling. Land’s comments gives ecclesiastical license from the SBC for this kind of profiling. Land’s racial profiling comments are analogous to what the major SBC pastors and theologians said about Black people for many years—for which they have never repented of—and that is, Black people were cursed by God. Land’s “justifiable profiling” doctrine is virtually identical and analogous to the SBC “curse of Ham” doctrine. Land just presented the 21st Century version of the “curse of Ham” doctrine, financed with Cooperative Program dollars. This is an egregious offense. Black SBC churches only give 1% to the Cooperative Program. Nevertheless, our churches helped to finance Richard Land’s communicating to all of America that racial profiling is justifiable. It was the justifiable profiling doctrine that led the SBC to conclude that slavery and segregation were biblically permissible. Land has revived that doctrine. According to Dr. Land, persons like me are worthy of being profiled.

Elsewhere in the post, McKissic commented on racial segregation at SBC meetings, called on Land to apologize to President Obama and Trayvon Martin’s family, and said that is comments “are not only factually incorrect” but are also “biblically unjustifiable.”

Richard Land's Terrible Week Gets Even Worse as ERLC Launches an Investigation

As Brian noted the other day, it has not been a very good week for Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

First there was the continuing controversy over his statement that "race hustlers" where using the Trayvon Martin tragedy in order to "gin up the black vote" for President Obama. Land had largely remained defiant in the face of the criticism he had been receiving, saying he was being "mugged" by the media and that he would "not bow to the false god of political correctness."

But this week, Land backed down and issued a rather passive-aggressive quasi-apology, saying he "overestimated the progress that has been made in slaying the ugly racist ghosts of the past in our history."

But that was not the only bad news for Land, as he also had to fess up to having routinely plagiarized articles and columns during his weekly radio program, where he had a habit of reading things on air written by others without attribution and passing them off as his own words.  

But Land's multiple apologies have not put an end to his problems, as the ERLC's executive committee has now issued a statement saying that it is "very concerned" about how Land's behavior "may damage the work of the ERLC" and is launching an investigation

Comments by Richard Land about the Trayvon Martin killing "have angered many and opened wounds from the past," the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's executive committee said in a statement released April 18.

The executive committee also registered concern that Land, the ERLC's president, had used sources from other media without proper attribution for some of his comments in his weekly radio call-in show.

An ad hoc committee has been formed "to investigate the allegations of plagiarism and recommend appropriate action," the ERLC executive committee reported in its statement.

"The [ERLC] 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," the six-member committee said.

On the website for Land's weekly radio program, all of the archived programs have now been removed and replaced with this message from the ERLC:

We recently became aware of instances in which Dr. Richard Land read from materials written by others during his radio show without clear and proper attribution to the authors of those materials on the program. We have also learned that news agencies occasionally access this website and use clips from Dr. Land’s past broadcasts without prior notice or permission. Due to the danger that such unauthorized use by news agencies or others might include quoted material used by Dr. Land without clear and proper credit being given to the author or source of the quoted material, we have removed links to prior radio broadcasts.

Religious Right Defends Criminalization of Homosexuality with Warnings of God's Judgment for 'Sexual Paganization'

Last week, Truth in Action Ministries released a film marking the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic by arguing that the “radical homosexual agenda” is the “iceberg” that will destroy America, and today the group unveiled a new video, Is Our Government Promoting Immorality? Hosts Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy and Jerry Newcombe called for gays and lesbians to be delivered from “this deadly lifestyle” and introduced a segment featuring the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg, Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land and right-wing author Michael Brown where the Religious Right activists defended the criminalization of homosexuality and attacked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech against anti-LGBT violence and persecution.

Sprigg, who has advocated for the criminalization of homosexuality in the past, condemned attempts by the State Department’s push for “decriminalizing homosexual acts” and Brown attacked the “outrageous” dissemination of “our gay activist standard.” “Whenever you go against God’s law, when you challenge God’s law and you have the effrontery and the hubris of trying to redefine one of God’s institutions like marriage you are putting yourself in the place of judgment,” Land concluded, “there is no question in my mind, God is already judging America and will judge her more harshly as we continue to move down this path towards sexual paganization.”

Watch highlights from the film here:

Richard Land's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, yesterday took up a defiant tone against charges that he used racially-insensitive language during his radio show in his attack on President Obama and civil rights activists over the Trayvon Martin case, saying that he is being “mugged” by the media for simply “criticizing this rush to judgment.” Land on his show had said that “it was Mr. Obama” who turned the Trayvon Martin shooting into a national issue” by pouring “gasoline on the racialist fires” in order to help “gin up the black vote” for his re-election with the aid of “race hustlers.”

But black SBC pastors, including the incoming-president of the convention, criticized Land’s comments and one threatened to introduce a resolution condemning Land at an upcoming meeting, and other Baptists commented that it was reminiscent of Southern Baptists’ past work against the civil rights movement and helped feed “the deep-seated resentment toward people of color held by some white Southern Baptists.”

Land’s problems didn’t end there.

Baptist author and blogger Aaron Weaver found that Land not only plagiarized his controversial rant from a Washington Times column by Jeffrey Kuhner, but also that Land has repeatedly plagiarized editorials verbatim from other right-wing publications like the Washington Examiner and Investor’s Business Daily.

Not a good move for the SBC’s “chief ethicist,” who used his title as ethicist while defending his comments about the Trayvon Martin case: “defending people who are being lynched in the court of public opinion is part of my job as an ethicist.”

Rather than apologize for the two incidents, Land instead said he is simply sorry that others have “misunderstood” his comments on Martin or his blatant plagiarism.

First, Land admitted to failing “to provide appropriate verbal attributions” during his show but not to plagiarism, saying he regrets “if anyone feels they were deceived or misled”:

On occasion I have failed to provide appropriate verbal attributions on my radio broadcast, Richard Land Live!, and for that I sincerely apologize. I regret if anyone feels they were deceived or misled.



While I do not use a script, listeners familiar with the program know that both the audio of the program and material I reference during the program are posted on the program’s Web site during or immediately following the broadcast.

However, Weaver notes that Land unmistakably tried “to pass off Kuhner’s words as his own” and even “attempted to make Kuhner’s words his own by adding extra comments and using different adjectives,” pointing out that while Land includes a link to Kuhner’s article on his website no author can “write a 500-word essay, pull 250-300 words verbatim or nearly verbatim from someone else and simply include a short footnote at the bottom.”

Land kept up with his “sorry if you misunderstood” mantra in a letter to SBC president Bryant Wright posted late on yesterday where he again offered a non-apology about the “misunderstanding” regarding his comments, complaining that he “overestimated the progress” the country has made on issues involving race:

I am writing to express my deep regret for any hurt or misunderstanding my comments about the Trayvon Martin case have generated. It grieves me to hear that any comments of mine have to any degree set back the cause of racial reconciliation in Southern Baptist or American life. I have been committed to the cause of racial reconciliation my entire ministry. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister has been a personal hero of mine since I surrendered to the ministry in 1962.



Clearly, I overestimated the progress that has been made in slaying the ugly racist ghosts of the past in our history. I also clearly underestimated the extent to which we must go out of our way not to be misunderstood when we speak to issues where race is a factor.

Please know that I apologize to any and all who were hurt or offended by my comments. I will certainly recommit myself to seeking to address controversial issues with even more sensitivity in the future.

Richard Land faces Firestorm over Trayvon Martin comments, Caught Plagiarizing

Richard Land, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, earlier this month claimed that President Obama “poured gasoline on the racialist fires” by commenting on the Trayvon Martin shooting as part of an attempt by the media and black leaders “to gin up the black vote for an African-American president.” Now it appears that Land was plagiarizing his tirade from a Washington Times column by far-right writer Jeffrey Kuhner, the Baptist Center for Ethics reports:

Aaron Weaver, a doctoral student at Baylor University, posted a partial transcript of Land's March 31 radio show in which Land quoted liberally from a March 29 Washington Times column written by Jeffrey Kuhner without attributing the quotes to him.

Land used Kuhner's material about Trayvon Martin, the media and racism on his radio show – Richard Land Live! – often quoting entire paragraphs without attribution.



Weaver discovered that in Land's approximately 700-word segment on Trayvon Martin, nearly 400 of the words came verbatim from the Kuhner article. Land did not credit Kuhner or even mention his name or the name of the newspaper.

On the radio show's website, Land linked to a "show notes" page that includes a link to Kuhner's column.

At no point in the segment or the radio show was an explanation offered as to the relationship between Kuhner's column and Land's segment.



"Perhaps this will provide an opportunity for Southern Baptists to reflect on why their chief ethics spokesman day-in and day-out sounds much more like a GOP strategist than an actual Christian ethicist," Weaver said.

Besides the plagiarism claims, Black leaders in the SBC, which has a long history of anti-black racism, including the convention’s incoming president and the fervently anti-gay pastor Dwight McKissic have been angered by Land’s remarks:

The comments come as the Southern Baptist Convention is trying hard to diversify its membership and distance itself from a past that includes support of slavery and segregation.

Last year, the denomination for the first time elected a black pastor to its No. 2 position of first vice president, and the Rev. Fred Luter is expected to become the first black president of the Southern Baptist Convention at this year's annual meeting in June.

When asked about the concern that Land's comments hurt the effort to attract non-white members, Luter said, "It doesn't help. That's for sure."

While SBC presidents are elected for one-year terms, as the head of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for 23 years, the outspoken Land is arguably the most powerful person in the denomination and certainly its most visible spokesman.

"I think his (Land's) statements will reverse any gains from the rightful election of Fred Luter," said the Rev. Dwight McKissic, a black pastor at the SBC-affiliated Cornerstone Baptist Church is Arlington, Texas.

McKissic said he plans to submit a resolution at the SBC's annual meeting asking the convention to repudiate Land's remarks.

"If they don't, we're back to where we were 50 years ago," he said.

Land, for his part, is twisting the words of his detractors and claims that he is being unfairly reprimanded for “criticizing this rush to judgment,” and Saturday on his radio show claimed that he is being “mugged” by the press.

Religious Right Marks Anniversary of Titanic's Sinking by Exposing the 'Iceberg' of the 'Radical Homosexual Agenda'

The anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking and release of ‘Titanic 3D’ has apparently inspired Truth in Action Ministries, formerly Coral Ridge Ministries, to produce a new short film presenting the “radical homosexual agenda” as an iceberg that could potentially destroy the United States.

The Truth that Transforms film features well-known anti-gay activists such as Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy and Jerry Newcombe of Truth in Action Ministries, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, right-wing historian Bill Federer, radio talk show host and author Michael Brown, and pastors Harry Jackson, Robert Jeffress and Erwin Lutzer.

Staver warned that the “homosexual agenda is the moral iceberg that we need to steer clear of” and maintained that it is “the biggest threat I believe in our lifetime to religious freedom and the fundamental values we share here in America.” While Jackson said the “homosexual agenda” is “one of those icebergs that if we don’t navigate around them correctly, will take us under,” Brown claimed “we’ve already hit the iceberg and the ship is already going down” and Land insisted that “we’re taking on water, the only question is whether or not we’re going to be able to survive and the ship won’t sink.” Staver predicted that opposition to gay rights is bound to be “criminalized and targeted for assault” and Federer even asserted that “there are just a couple steps before the military could be used in a persecution of those that are viewed as enemies of the new state belief system.”

Watch highlights of the film here:

Matt Barber calls Jimmy Carter 'An Apostate' for Backing Marriage Equality

Liberty Counsel deputy Matt Barber attacked former president Jimmy Carter, who in a new study Bible writes that he supports marriage equality for gays and lesbians, as “an apostate” in an interview with LifeSiteNews. Barber told the conservative outlet that Carter is using his influential position “to push heretical notions,” and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission called Carter “hopelessly confused as a theologian”:

At the same time the 39th president has highlighted his more moderate stance on abortion, Carter has endorsed same-sex “marriage.” He told The Huffington Post, “I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies” but he added he drew the line, “maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people.”

Dr. Richard Land said, “I’m not surprised that he holds that view. He is hopelessly confused as a theologian.” Carter has said his favorite theologians were liberals Rienhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich.

“Homosexual conduct, is listed over and over again in black-and-white as sin,” said Barber.

“There’s a word for what Jimmy Carter is doing. That’s apostasy,” Barber told LifeSiteNews.com. “That’s a strong word to use, but Jimmy Carter is an apostate in that he is leading the least of these to sin against what Scripture clearly condemns in terms of homosexual conduct.”

“He is not just fooling himself with this,” Barber told LifeSiteNews. “Unfortunately he’s using the goodwill he has developed over the years and his history as the leader of the free world to push heretical notions.”
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