The head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission signed off without fanfare for the last time on the Richard Land Live! weekly radio show June 2.
Land, Southern Baptists’ top spokesman for moral and religious-liberty concerns since 1988, didn’t go into detail about the controversy over recent comments about Trayvon Martin and a plagiarism investigation that brought rebuke and a decision to cancel the program by the executive committee of his trustee board.
“Due to a variety of circumstances this will be my last appearance on Richard Land Live!,” Land said in the closing moments of a previously recorded broadcast without the usual listener phone calls. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my more than decade-long relationship with and conversation with you. I still believe America needs and must have a spiritual revival followed by a spiritual awakening culminating in a spiritual reformation.”
Paraphrasing Second Chronicles 7:14, Land described America as a land “uniquely blessed by God” but in need of moral reform.
“It seems to me that anyone who reads American history has to come to the conclusion that our nation – nobody could be that lucky,” he said. “Our nation has been not just the object of fortuitous circumstance but divine providence. And that divine providence and that kind of blessing – and blessing by definition means undeserved – merits our response.”
“I believe that response must be to pray for that revival in our own hearts, to pray for that awakening in the hearts of those that are lost, to have that moral re-formation that a reformation would bring as we apply the truth of Scripture to the evils in our society,” he said.
Land first got into hot water March 31 when he described black leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton “race hustlers” and “racial ambulance chasers” and accused President Obama of using the incident to “gin up the black vote” for his re-election.
Later Land said racial profiling is understandable because a black man is “statistically more likely to do you harm than a white man.”
Land apologized April 16 for “overestimat[ing] the extent of progress that has been made in slaying the racial dragon of our past.” Later, after meeting with black Southern Baptist leaders including Fred Luter, the New Orleans pastor expected to be elected the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention later this month, Land issued a second apology for harm to the cause of racial reconciliation caused by his remarks.
Meanwhile, the ERLC trustee executive committee launched an investigation into plagiarism after a Baptist blogger reported that a number of Land’s comments on his radio show were quoted from other sources without on-air attribution. Trustee leaders reprimanded Land June 1 for “racially charged words” and “carelessness” with attribution, and decided to pull the plug on the radio program deemed “not congruent” with the agency’s mission.
Land, 65, closed the June 2 broadcast with his usual sign-off, “God bless you, God bless your family and God bless America.”