A former Southern Baptist Convention leader and public-policy spokesman says President Obama or some other national figure should seize a “Sister Souljah moment” and rebuke anti-police rhetoric within the Black Lives Matter movement.
After deadly attacks on police officers in Baton Rouge, La., over the weekend and in Dallas on July 7, Richard Land, former president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote a Christian Post commentary July 13 denouncing Black Lives Matters as a “divisive movement” engaged “in counter-productive rhetoric” that is leading to the murder of police officers.
“The inflammatory rhetoric of Black Lives Matter has help created a myth that there is a police war against African-Americans in this country,” said Land, who now works as president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and executive editor of the Christian Post. “That is a blatant falsehood with lethal consequences.”
The term “Sister Souljah moment” was coined to describe then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s rebuke of a black hip-hop artist and activist who expressed empathy for black-on-white violence in the 1992 Los Angeles riots, saying in an interview “if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people.” Clinton compared her to David Duke, a politician and former member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Land, recently named to Donald Trump’s new executive board to provide advisory support to the presidential hopeful on the issues important to evangelicals and other people of faith, said the issue would be entirely different if the Black Lives Matter movement employed the phrase, “Black Lives Matter, too.” As it is, Land said, the slogan accompanied by inflammatory language has incited violence against police officers.
“Such violence and the language that incites it must be condemned in the strongest terms possible,” Land said.
Land, a sponsor of the Southern Baptist Convention’s historic 1995 resolution apologizing to African-Americans for racism, weighed in on that controversy by accusing President Obama of using the teenager’s death to “gin up the black vote” for his re-election and labeling African-American activists Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as “racial ambulance chasers” and “race hustlers.”
ERLC trustees responded by canceling Land’s weekly radio program and reprimanding him for “hurtful, irresponsible and racially charged words.” Land apologized and a short time later announced his plans to retire after 25 years in the position in 2013.
Meanwhile, Robert Parham, executive director of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship partner Baptist Center for Ethics, said in an editorial July 12 that the “exclusive claim that only certain racial groups matter” is “untruthful and unwise.”
“It is a divisive claim designed to pit the innocent (young black males in particular) against the guilty (all of the white society),” Parham wrote on the BCE website EthicsDaily.com.
Parham said it’s wrong to assign blame for injustice to an entire group, because all human beings are flawed.
“Looking at the rates of incarceration of young black males underscores the deep flaws in our larger society,” Parham wrote, “just as looking at the rates of black-on-black violence underscores the flaws in the black community.”