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ERLC trustees reprimand Richard Land, terminate radio program over Trayvon Martin commentscomment (0)

June 7, 2012

Two reprimands have been issued to Richard Land by the trustee executive committee of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

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, 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, 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.”

The ERLC trustee executive committee that issued the reprimands and broadcast termination is led by Richard D. Piles, pastor of First Baptist Church, Camden, Ark.


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