The annual March for Life brought thousands of people to Washington, D.C. on Friday, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. This year, Focus on the Family and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission teamed up to create more of an evangelical presence at the heavily Catholic march. “Our burden was to see the reborn stand up for the unborn," said the Southern Baptists’ Russell Moore on Thursday. At Friday’s march, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly acknowledged that evangelicals took “a while to come to the party” on abortion.
A few hundred people attended the first Evangelicals for Life conference, which began on Thursday and continued on Friday morning until the rally and march were set to begin. Among the conference speakers, in addition to Moore and Daly, were Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life and Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
The day started with Moore and Daly interviewing and praying for David Daleiden, whose videos have been at the center of the latest right-wing effort to destroy Planned Parenthood. Moore gave Daleiden a chance to respond to criticism that his deceptive tactics had required lying, asking if he was engaging in moral relativizing. Daleiden explained that his “undercover” work is different from lying because its ultimate purpose is truth-telling, an extremely dubious claim in this case.
Charmaine Yoest celebrated the anti-choice movement’s success at generating a “tidal wave” of restrictions on abortion, explaining as she did in her remarks at the World Congress of Families summit in October, that those victories were based on a strategic decision to focus on state legislatures, pass restrictions, and create opportunities for the Supreme Court to chip away at Roe. She called it a “stealth strategy” and an “under-the-radar” way to go on the offensive.
Yoest and other speakers argued that the movement’s continued success will depend on putting a more loving, compassionate, woman-focused face on the movement, directly challenging pro-choice advocates who ground their legal arguments in women’s dignity. Yoest described abortion as “fundamentally anti-woman” and abortion advocates as “the true misogynists in our society.”
Rodriguez, as he often does in conservative settings, tried to convince the audience not to “drink the Kool-Aid” about changing demographics being bad news for the anti-abortion movement. Rodriguez said pro-life Hispanics can provide a “spiritual firewall” for the movement.
In reality, progressive-voting Latinos created a firewall for President Obama, which may be why Rodriguez complained that “our voting pattern runs counter to what we preach about on Sunday” and declared, “If we are pro-life on Sunday, if we preach pro-life on Sunday, we cannot support a candidate that advocates abortion on Tuesday.” Rodriguez spoke directly to Latinos, saying it’s fine to march for immigration reform -- “as long as it’s not amnesty or illegal immigration; we need to stop that” -- but “we must be above all things pro-life.”
The most surprising and interesting remarks of the day came from Christian author Ron Sider, a pacifist and anti-hunger advocate who challenged a movement that calls itself pro-life to be more engaged in fighting global poverty, challenging subsidies to the tobacco industry, protecting the environment, fighting racism, and opposing capital punishment. He said white evangelicals would have more success at getting Black Christians into the anti-abortion movement if white Christians became supportive for Black Lives Matter.
Rodriguez also said the future of the movement had to be multiethnic, declaring that “the day of white, angry, pro-life advocates as a collective movement, that day is officially over.” He said that abortion providers target African American and Latino women, which he called “unbridled and unfettered racism.” Rodriguez said he is working with Bernice King, daughter of MLK, to launch later this year the National Christian Leadership Conference, “an organization for the purpose of advancing a culture of life, and we will be specifically targeting the Latino and African American communities.”
A few notes from afternoon breakout sessions:
Russell Moore, an influential evangelical leader who serves as the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, has not been shy about his disapproval of Donald Trump, even as Trump continues to lead polls of Republican-leaning evangelical voters. It turns out that Moore’s predecessor, Richard Land, has similar feelings about The Donald, telling a Christian radio program this week that he was “dismayed” by Trump’s “mystifying and somewhat depressing” popularity among evangelicals.
“I guess I would have to say that I’m somewhat dismayed that Donald Trump is doing as well as he is among evangelicals,” Land told South Carolina pastor Kevin Boling on his radio program on Tuesday. “I frankly take that as a failure on our part to adequately disciple our people. I mean, Donald Trump’s a showman, Donald Trump’s a master at manipulating the media, but when we have so many good candidates, from an evangelical perspective, why perhaps as many as one fifth of evangelicals are supporting Donald Trump, who among other things is in his third marriage, has acknowledged that he’s never really had anything that he’s needed to ask God for forgiveness for, I find mystifying and somewhat depressing.”
Land said the better choices for evangelicals would be Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.
In an attempt to woo social conservatives in advance of a possible presidential bid, Sen. Marco Rubio delivered a speech at Catholic University today, where he attempted to come across as a uniter on social issues like marriage equality and abortion rights while assuring his party’s right flank that he agrees with their hardline policy positions.
The Florida Republican drew heavily from the Religious Right’s persecution narrative to claim that while LGBT people have faced discrimination in the past, he and fellow opponents of marriage equality are now the victims of widespread “intolerance.”
“We should acknowledge that our nation is marred by a history of discrimination against gays and lesbians,” he said. “There was once a time when our federal government not only banned the hiring of gay employees, it required federal contractors to identify and fire them. Some laws prohibited gays from being served in bars and restaurants, and many states carried out law enforcement efforts targeting gay marriages.”
“Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then,” he continued. “Many committed gay and lesbian couples feel humiliated by the law’s failure to recognize their relationship as a marriage, and supporters of same-sex marriage argue that laws banning same-sex marriage are discrimination. I respect their arguments, and I would concede that they pose a legitimate question for lawmakers and society.”
But now, according to Rubio, it is gay-rights opponents whose rights are under attack.
He criticized judges who are “redefining marriage from the bench,” claiming that pro-marriage-equality decisions take away the rights of “Americans like myself” who oppose same-sex marriage: “Those who support same-sex marriage have a right to lobby their state legislature to change its laws. But Americans like myself who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage also have the right to work to keep the traditional definition of marriage in our laws without seeing them overturned by a judge.”
Calling tolerance a “two-way street,” he lamented that “today there is a growing intolerance on this issue, intolerance towards those who continue to support traditional marriage.”
“I promise you that even before this speech is over, I’ll be attacked as a hater or a bigot or someone who’s anti-gay,” he said. “This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy. Supporting the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is not anti-gay. It is pro-traditional marriage.”
The theme was repeated by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore, and Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance, who joined a panel discussion after Rubio’s speech.
“I think the myth of somehow those who are concerned about these issues from a more conservative standpoint are simply going to evaporate, I think that that is actually fueling some of the things that Sen. Rubio talked about right now, when he did talk about this growing intolerance of those who would define marriage as a conjugal union of a man and a woman,” Moore said.
Nance praised Rubio for his “unifying” message, as opposed to the “divisive” tone of President Obama whom she said “has pitted gays against straights”:
“I believe that this president has been so divisive for this nation. He has pitted men against women, he has pitted wealthy against poor, he has pitted gays against straights, and I was so happy and encouraged by the tone that Sen. Rubio took. It was a unifying message that he gave us today, and I think it was a winning message.”
Sen. Rubio’s office has posted video of his remarks. His comments on LGBT equality and abortion rights begin about 13 minutes in:
Religious Right leaders love to claim that Christians are threatened in the U.S., the subject of a forthcoming PFAW report on the Religious Right’s persecution complex. The latest example comes from the just-completed annual conference of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Russell Moore, who heads the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, hosted Rick Warren, David Platt, and Samuel Rodriguez for a June 9 panel on religious freedom in America through the lens of the Hobby Lobby case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to an account by Tom Strode in the Baptist Press, Rodriguez, who heads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, warned, “Today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity. The firewall against secular totalitarianism is religious liberty and religious pluralism.”
“Secular totalitarianism” in this context is the requirement, being challenged in the Hobby Lobby case, that for-profit businesses provide insurance coverage that includes contraception methods to which the company’s owners have religious objections.
“The justices will decide whether “there is the freedom to dissent and the freedom to accommodate these conscientious objections in the governing of people’s lives and the running of their businesses,” Moore said. “This will have everything to do with everything that your church does for the next 100 years.”
Moore of course is ignoring, or rather obfuscating, the clear constitutional, legal, and policy distinction between churches, who are exempt from the requirement, and for-profit corporations, whose claim to a religious conscience is at the core of the Hobby Lobby case.
Rodriguez and Warren agreed that religious liberty is the civil rights issue of the future. And panelists spoke as if Christians are on the verge of being jailed for their beliefs:
“I’m spending all of my time right now making sure that we stay out of jail,” [Moore] told the audience. “But there is one thing worse than going to jail, and that’s staying out of jail and sacrificing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Warren responded, “This issue may take – just as it did with Martin Luther King – it may take some pastors going to jail. I’m in.”
The idea that pastors are going to be thrown into jail is a ridiculous argument that Religious Right leaders have used to oppose hate crimes legislation and laws against anti-gay discrimination in the workplace. This kind of rhetoric is not only ridiculous, it is also irresponsible and damaging. As People For the American Way Foundation’s Twelve Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics says in explaining that religious and political leaders should not “cry ‘wolf’” about religious persecution:
Inflammatory charges about religious persecution can lead to an angrier and more divisive political arena. If you believe your political opponents are actually out to take away your religious freedom, shut down your church, and literally criminalize Christianity—goals that some Religious Right figures attribute to political liberals—you have little reason to treat your opponents civilly or engage in a search for constructive common ground or compromise. Creating that kind of environment is not good for our country.
It is possible to have a vigorous debate about political issues and about the separation of church and state without resorting to falsehoods about religious persecution.
The panel wasn’t a total bust, apparently. Unlike some Religious Right leaders, who claim that religious liberty protections apply only to Christians – or to a particular subset of Christians – news reports indicate that Rodriguez, Warren, and Moore said Christians should promote religious liberty for everyone in the context of religious pluralism. We don’t say this often about these guys, but we agree.
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.
On Monday, five religious organizations filed an amicus brief urging the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold bans on same-sex couples getting married in Utah and Oklahoma. According to the Associated Press, the brief was written by lawyers for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and was joined by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
The thrust of the brief is to argue that there are sound social policy reasons to oppose marriage equality, and to attack the notion that opposition to gay couples getting married is grounded in anti-gay prejudice, or “animus.” Says the brief, “The accusation is false and offensive.”
“Our faith communities bear no ill will toward same-sex couples, but rather have marriage-affirming religious beliefs that merge with both practical experience and sociological fact to convince us that retaining the husband-wife marriage definition is essential.”
No ill will toward same-sex couples? Let’s review.
We can start with the Southern Baptists, who have officially declared that “homosexual conduct is always a gross moral and spiritual abomination for any person, whether male or female, under any circumstance, without exception” and that they even oppose businesses extending benefits to domestic partners. OK, to be fair, that was 1997. The SBC voted in 2003 to “call upon all judges and public officials to resist and oppose the legalization of same-sex unions,” and in 2008 called for constitutional amendment to prevent same-sex couples from getting married anywhere in the U.S.
Richard Land, who was for 25 years the voice of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission until his retirement last fall, has said the Devil takes pleasure in the destructive homosexual lifestyle. In 2012, Land said, “God is already judging America and will judge her more harshly as we continue to move down this path toward sexual paganization.” A year earlier he accused gay rights activists of “child abuse” for “recruiting” children in elementary school.
Land’s retirement was expected to shift the ERLC’s tone; but the group still opposes ENDA, a proposed federal law to protect LGBT people from discrimination on the job.
Let’s see, who else opposes ENDA, domestic partnerships, civil unions, and marriage equality? That would be the US Conference of Catholic bishops. The bishops have said they oppose “unjust discrimination” against people with same-sex attractions, but they define the term “unjust” in a way that applies only to people who remain celibate. So if you are a gay couple and you are having sex, workplace discrimination against you is justified, as is a refusal to legally recognize your relationship.
A number of prominent U.S. bishops signed, and urged other Catholics to sign, the Manhattan Declaration, which compared liberals to Nazis. It declares conservatives’ positions on marriage to be "inviolable and non-negotiable," and pledges that conservatives will engage in civil disobedience, and may even need to prepare for martyrdom, in order to avoid recognizing legally married same-sex couples.
Let’s not forget Bishop Thomas Paprocki, from Springfield, Illinois, who told Catholics in 2012 that voting for the equality-supporting Democratic Party would put their eternal souls in jeopardy, and who responded to the passage of marriage equality in Illinois by conducting an exorcism.
The Mormon Church was a driving force in opposition to early marriage equality moves in Hawaii and Alaska and was crucial to the success of California’s Prop 8, providing tens of thousands of volunteers and a flood of cash. After a post-Prop-8 backlash from both inside and outside the church, LDS officials seemed to have abandoned the anti-marriage-equality crusade. The church says it supported Salt Lake City ordinances banning discrimination in housing and employment and has supported same-sex couples’ rights regarding “hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights” – sounds good – “so long as those do not infringe of the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.” Hmm.
How about the National Association of Evangelicals? In 2008, Richard Cizik, the longtime public policy face of the NAE, was forced to resign after he publicly expressed support for civil unions.
Unlike the more progressive Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), the more conservative Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) strongly opposes LGBT equality. In a statement after the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, the church insisted, “Same-sex unions are contrary to God’s will, and gay marriage is, in the eyes of God, no marriage at all… no matter what the courts or legislatures may say.” The conservative Lutherans have backed HJR 6 in Indiana, which is attempting to add a ban on marriage equality to the state constitution.
In January, the LCMS announced it was entering formal discussions with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Makane Yesus, which cut its longstanding ties with the ELCA last year over sexuality issues. The Ethiopian church was so disturbed by the ELCA’s pro-equality positions that it has declared its members may not share communion with ELCA members. Ethiopia’s churches and government, with the encouragement of American missionaries, have, in the words of a recent disturbing Newsweek article, “declared war on gay men.”
So, maybe it depends what you mean by “ill will.”
The Religious Right went into a frenzy this week over charges that the military was deliberately blocking access to SBC.net, the official website of the Southern Baptist Convention’s, as part of an anti-Christian ploy.
“What we are seeing here, I want to be very clear here, we are seeing under the Obama administration a Christian cleansing underway in the United States military,” Fox News' Starnes maintained.
David Limbaugh accused the military of acting like a “thought police” who “selectively suppress[es] First Amendment freedoms” that “our armed forces are charged to protect,” and the SBC’s top ethicist Richard Land said it was an “outrageous” move and the person who blocked the website “needs to be fired.”
The American Family Association called the incident an example of the military’s “hostility towards faith and religious freedom” and its spokesman Bryan Fischer claimed it was part of an Islamist-secularist conspiracy to classify the entire denomination as a “hate group that spews nothing but ‘hostile content.’”
SBC.net was in fact blocked, but not as a result of anti-Christian bias, but because of malware on the SBC’s website.
Don’t just take our word for it, the Baptist Press, the news arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, reported that “the military's software filters detected malware at SBC.net and blocked the website.” Due to malware, not the content of the website, SBC.net was considered “hostile content.”
But don’t hold your breath for Land or Fischer to retract their inflammatory claims.
A military official says malware was to blame for the Southern Baptist Convention's website being blocked on some military bases.
Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a Defense Department spokesman, said the military's software filters detected malware at SBC.net and blocked the website. The malware since has been removed off the website, and the denomination's website unblocked, he said.
"The Department of Defense is not intentionally blocking access to this site," Pickart told The Tennessean in an email. "The Department of Defense strongly supports the religious rights of service members, to include their ability to access religious websites like that of the SBC."
Chris Chapman, the SBC Executive Committee's director of information systems, said SBC.net -- like the websites of many other organizations -- is a target for hackers. He also said the military's filters are at an "optimum level" in blocking content, not simply "recognizing invading viruses" but also blocking anything that possibly could be harmful.
"The recent situation impeding access to our website for some was aggravated by a misunderstanding of a term familiar to those in the information technology field. That term is 'hostile content.' To technical administrators, it simply means some sort of vulnerability or virus. It might not even be an actively harmful element, but simply an exploitable or potentially exploitable condition. We now live in an age where defending against or removing 'hostile content' is a daily undertaking, especially for any organization that maintains multiple Internet servers.
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.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s polling arm LifeWay is out with a new poll revealing widespread support for gay rights, particularly among young people. According to the survey, a clear majority of Americans believe that “homosexuality is a civil rights issue like gender, race and age,” agree that same-sex marriage is “inevitable” and oppose employment discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The denomination is a fierce critic of marriage equality and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and last year passed a resolution “opposing the idea that gay rights are the same as civil rights.”
Richard Land, the denomination’s top political spokesman, has claimed that the Devil is behind homosexuality and warned that gay rights will lead to divine judgment and “paganization.” While the SBC believes it is wrong to consider gay rights a civil rights issues, Land compared his own anti-gay activism to Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership of the Civil Rights Movement.
Key findings from the poll include:
The poll also found that women, young people and people with college degrees were more likely to favor gay rights.
LifeWay’s survey appears to line up with a new bipartisan analysis of exit polls which found that opposition to marriage equality is concentrated among the elderly, white evangelical Christians and people without college degrees.
Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission appeared yesterday on Istook Live, the Heritage Foundation radio show hosted by former Congressman Ernest Istook, to discuss why the Boy Scouts of America should maintain its ban on gay members.
Co-host C.J. Wheeler asked Land how to tell her gay peers and colleagues, “You’re my friend, but I don’t want you to be a Boy Scout leader. You’re my friend, but I’m tired of your agenda being forced down my throat.” She lamented that “it’s a hard world to really walk in out there” for “the average person out there who has friends in these communities,” because apparently life is really tough for straight people who support discrimination against their gay friends.
Land explained that gays and lesbians shouldn’t be treated any differently, except when it comes to their inclusion in the Boy Scouts, marriage and other social institutions. He told Wheeler to tell her gay friends that she respects them but thinks that if they are allowed to join the Boy Scouts they will jeopardize the ability of the organization to “protect children” and consequently “human tragedies will follow.”
Land also explained that “the homosexual activists have gone after [cultural] icons” such as the military, marriage and Disney in order to realize their “breathtaking” agenda.
Land: They do not believe in a live and let live philosophy. Let’s be very clear about what their agenda is, their agenda is to have the homosexual lifestyle affirmed by society as healthy and normal and as a perfectly acceptable to young people and to have those who disagree with that ostracized the level of being Ku Klux Klansmen.
Istook: I do want to expand on the Scouting part but you mentioned the overall agenda, Dr. Land, because it’s not just in Boy Scout’s, we see it in the policy toward same-sex marriage, we see it creeping into something’s such as the ‘anti-bullying agenda.’ What are the different fronts of this conflict?
Land: Well, every front, but the Boy Scouts are an icon and so the homosexual activists have gone after the icons, the cultural icons of our culture. They’ve gone after the military, the most admired institution in American society, the American military; they’ve gone after Disney, the family-friendly supposedly network and family-friendly entertainment venture; they’ve gone after marriage, what can be holier than marriage; now they’re going after the Boy Scouts, nothing is more American than Apple Pie than Boy Scouts. They are going to go after every front, they’ve gone after the cultural icons first but there is no place that they are not going to go and as I said there overall agenda is really quite breathtaking.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s top ethicist and resident plagiarist Richard Land is offering a completely original idea that he hopes will end the debate over same-sex marriage once and for all! In his column, What Relationships Should Be Called Marriage: A Modest Proposal, Land proposes that gay couples should be barred from marrying but instead be treated the same way as “two maiden or widowed sisters who were living together or a mother and a devoted son or daughter who were living together in a platonic relationship.”
Marriage has been defined in Western civilization for at least two millennia now as being a sexual relationship between one man and one woman. Christianity has defined it so historically, most often coupling it with life-long permanence and monogamy. As an Evangelical Christian, I certainly embrace that definition.
However, how do we deal with those who would choose to extend some of the legal privileges our society has accorded marriage to same-sex relationships without shattering the definition of marriage or discriminating against people outside the heterosexual definition of marriage? How do we protect society against those who would extend the special status of marriage to homosexual, lesbian or polygamous relationships? How do we protect time-honored titles, like "husband" and "wife," from being attacked as homophobic or sexist terms to be replaced by spouse #1 and spouse #2 or "Mom" and "Dad" from being reduced legally to caregiver #1 and caregiver #2? Such legal assaults on these time-honored family terms seem inevitable if "same-sex" marriage becomes equal with heterosexual marriage.
I propose that as Americans we declare heterosexual marriage as the only relationship in our society that is to be defined by its sexual nature and that it will continue to be defined as a legal relationship between one man and one woman consummated by sexual intercourse.
If two men or two women are living together in a relationship and they want to ask the state legislature in their state to grant some of the special legal privileges accorded marriage to their relationship the state legislature should respond in the following fashion: "We will consider your request, but the sexual nature of your relationship will be irrelevant to our discussions because marriage is the only relationship in our society that is defined by its sexual nature. Why should other people who are living in committed relationships that do not involve sexual activity be discriminated against or left out?"
In other words, the state legislature would not discriminate against two maiden or widowed sisters who were living together or a mother and a devoted son or daughter who were living together in a platonic relationship. Why should such households and relationships be left behind when legal privileges and recognition are being passed out just because they are not in a sexual relationship?
In the wake of a plagiarism scandal, controversy over racially inflammatory remarks, and an internal investigation, Richard Land announced Tuesday that he would step down next year as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Land will formally retire in October, 2013 – 25 years to the day he assumed the presidency.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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, 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.