April 24, 2014
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Trustees reprimand Land, halt radio program over comments
Posted on Jun 1, 2012 | by Art Toalston

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Two reprimands have been issued to Richard Land by the trustee executive committee of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

The ERLC trustee executive committee also is terminating Land's weekly call-in radio show -- the venue where Land made comments about the Trayvon Martin killing that ignited intense controversy, prompting the formation of a trustee ad hoc investigative committee.

The ERLC, led by Land since 1988, must "redouble our efforts to heal re-opened wounds," the executive committee said of Land's on-air comments about the intrusion of politics into the Trayvon Martin case and his references to President Obama and the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson by name.

At the outset of its reprimands and broadcast termination, the trustee committee stated that Land's statements "were very hurtful and offensive to the Trayvon Martin family and to many in the African-American community, including hundreds of thousands of African-American Southern Baptists. Damage was done to the state of race relations in the Southern Baptist Convention."

The two reprimands of Land by the ERLC trustee executive committee state:

"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," the trustee executive committee said regarding plagiarism allegations against Land over material he failed to attribute to a Washington Times columnist on the March 31 broadcast.

Regarding the call-in radio show, the ERLC trustee executive committee stated:

" 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."

Land, in a statement issued to Baptist Press after the release of the reprimands and broadcast termination, stated:

"I have said on numerous occasions that I believe in trustee oversight and governance. I am under the authority of the trustees elected by the Southern Baptist Convention. This whole process was conducted in a Christian manner by Christian gentlemen.

"I look forward to working with them and their fellow trustees and the ERLC staff as we seek to continue to minister the Gospel of our Savior across our great land," Land said.

In his May 9 apology, Land apologized "for the harm my words of March 31, 2012, have caused to specific individuals, the cause of racial reconciliation, and the gospel of Jesus Christ." The five-part, two-page apology followed a May 2 meeting when Land met with 11 other SBC leaders, including several prominent African American pastors. As a result of the meeting, which lasted nearly five hours, Land said, "I have come to understand in sharper relief how damaging my words were."

For the Baptist Press story on Land's May 9 apology, which includes the full text of the apology, go to www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37795.

Among those in attendance May 9 were Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans; James Dixon Jr., president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of El-Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Md.; and K. Marshall Williams, chairman of the Southern Baptist African American Advisory Council and pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pa.

The ERLC trustee executive committee that issued the reprimands and broadcast termination is led by Richard D. Piles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Camden, Ark. Piles, on May 21, replaced Steve Faith as ERLC trustee chairman after Faith, a retired pastor and director of missions from New Albany, Ind., resigned citing a need to assist his local church that is currently without a pastor.

In addition to Piles, other members of the ERLC executive committee are Donald L. Mason, a Georgia layman; Stephen W. Long, a director of missions in Ohio; Christopher L. Slaughter, a West Virginia layman; and Stephen G. Veteto, a Colorado seminary educator. The committee includes the ERLC trustee officers and the chairmen of the trustees' three subcommittees.

On May 9, Faith followed Land's apology with a statement that the ad hoc investigative committee was working "with due diligence and will bring a thorough and complete report to the ERLC Executive Committee who will prayerfully consider the findings. The ERLC Executive Committee will bring a report to the full board of trustees and then release a public statement by June 1.

"It is important to understand that our Southern Baptist polity places Dr. Land under the authority of the ERLC trustees who are elected by and accountable directly to the Convention," Faith said. "The trustees are aware of their responsibility to the Convention and to the watching world."

Additional Baptist Press reports on the controversy over Land's comments can be accessed at www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37804; www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37620; and www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37619.
--30--
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press. The full text of the June 1 statement by the trustee executive committee of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission follows:

The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees
of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
of the Southern Baptist Convention, Nashville, Tennessee

June 1, 2012

On March 31, 2012, Dr. Richard Land, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission ("ERLC") made statements during the Richard Land Live! (RLL) broadcast which were very hurtful and offensive to the Trayvon Martin family and to many in the African-American community, including hundreds of thousands of African-American Southern Baptists. Damage was done to the state of race relations in the Southern Baptist Convention. We announced our regret for those remarks, and we also commissioned an Ad Hoc Investigation Committee to address allegations of plagiarism that were made related to those same remarks and to commentary made in another RLL broadcast. The investigation proceeded with diligence. Dr. Land exhibited a very compliant spirit and was fully cooperative during the investigation. We thank Dr. Land for that.

The Ad Hoc Investigation Committee has completed its work and reported its findings to the Executive Committee. On May 29, 2012, the Executive Committee of the ERLC met in Nashville, Tennessee to consider the findings of the Ad Hoc Committee, as well as other related matters, and to review those findings with Dr. Land. The Executive Committee unanimously agreed to, and hereby undertakes, the following actions:

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.
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