Land honored for bioethics, liberty

LA MIRADA, Calif. (BP)--Richard Land was honored May 15 as a "leading bioethicist" for his defense of human life alongside his commitment to religious freedom at the national and international level.

Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, received the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth at Biola University during an event that focused on the future of the Intelligent Design movement.

Biola, a Christian university founded in 1913 as a Bible institute, established the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth in 2004 to honor legal scholar and Berkeley law professor Phillip E. Johnson, who was the award's first recipient.

The award is given every other year by the university's master of arts in science and religion program to a nationally or internationally recognized scholar who challenges the "materialistic bias of the modern academy and advances a position that fosters an integrative approach to science and religion."

"I am grateful for Biola's honor and I accept it on behalf of Southern Baptists whose voices have been raised in defense of the unborn and the sanctity of all human life -- from conception to natural death -- across the last quarter century," Land said.

Land's service on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom was part of the recognition.

"In America, we have the right, secured by the wisdom and the blood of those who have gone before us, to allow our religious convictions and our religious beliefs to inform our values -- values that then influence what we say, what we think and what we do, no matter where we are," Land said, warning that Americans must be vigilant to ensure that those rights are not lost or watered down.

John Bloom, Biola professor of physics and founding director of the master of arts program in science and religion at the La Mirada, Calif., campus, noted that the Intelligent Design community "has seen a chilling of the bioethical climate in the United States, such as the use of human embryonic and fetal tissue, and continuing global threats to religious expression, some under the guise of 'tolerance' and 'political correctness.'"

Bloom emphasized that the freedom of scientists to follow the evidence where it leads is impossible in a culture or state that does not grant religious freedom or value the individual.

"I am both honored and humbled to be considered in any group that includes Philip Johnson, Antony Flew and Ben Stein," Land said in reference to the award and its recipients. The late British philosopher Antony Flew, once considered the most prominent defender of atheism in the English-speaking world, received the award in 2006. Lawyer and former presidential speechwriter Ben Stein received the award in 2008 for his work in the film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," which documented the harassment of Intelligent Design sympathizers in the academic community.


Reported by the communications staff of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

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