A top Southern Baptist official has accused President Obama and black civil rights activists of using the Trayvon Martin shooting to foment racial strife and boost the president’s re-election chances.
“Rather than holding rallies on these issues, the civil rights leadership focuses on racially polarizing cases to generate media attention and to mobilize black voter turnout,” Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the denomination’s top public policy official, said on his radio program  on Saturday (March 31).
“This is being done to try to gin up the black vote for an African-American president who is in deep, deep, deep trouble for re-election and who knows that he cannot win re-election without getting the 95 percent of blacks who voted for him in 2008 to come back out and show they are going to vote for him again.”
Land’s remarks were reported Monday (April 2) by the Associated Baptist Press .
Martin is the 17-year-old African-American youth who was shot to death in February by a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Fla.
Martin was unarmed and was walking back to his father’s house with a bag of candy and an iced tea when he was confronted by George Zimmerman, who was patrolling the gated community where Martin was staying. What transpired next is a matter of dispute, but Zimmerman shot Martin once in the chest and killed him. Zimmerman was not arrested or charged, and because his father is white and his mother is Hispanic the growing controversy over the case has become racially supercharged.
Obama himself weighed in on the case, saying that as a parent he was pained by the shooting and adding: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.”
“The president’s aides claimed he was showing compassion for the victim’s family,” Land said. “In reality he poured gasoline on the racialist fires.”
In his radio show, Land also described activists Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as “racial ambulance chasers” who are fomenting a “mob mentality” that is akin to what the Ku Klux Klan used to do to blacks in the South.
“This situation is getting out of hand,” Land said. “There is going to be violence. When there is violence it’s going to be Jesse Jackson’s fault. It’s going to be Al Sharpton’s fault. It’s going to be Louis Farrakhan’s fault, and to a certain degree it’s going to be President Obama’s fault.”
David Gibson is an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He writes for RNS and until recently covered the religion beat for AOL's Politics Daily. He blogs at Commonweal magazine, and has written two books on Catholic topics, the latest a biography of Pope Benedict XVI. Via RNS .