southern baptist

Breaking Personal Pledge, Southern Baptist Leader Land Endorses Romney

Richard Land
Richard Land

Breaking a1e longstanding personal pledge, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land has endorsed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, saying next week's election is the most important since Abraham Lincoln's win in 1860 and he can no longer stay silent.

“America is at a fork in the road and must choose between a President Barack Obama who wants to remake America in the model of a European welfare state and a Governor Mitt Romney who wants to restore a more economically vibrant and traditionally moral America,” Land wrote in an Oct. 26 column in the Christian Post.

Land, who is executive editor of the independent Christian Post and the top public policy spokesman for the SBC, said the “stark and revealing” differences between the Republicans and Democrats on abortion rights and same-sex marriage guided his decision. 

“For Christians of traditional religious faith, there cannot be more fundamental issues than the protection of the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death and the defense of marriage as a divinely-ordained institution between one man and one woman,” he wrote.

Land’s endorsement comes just as Romney's campaign has been trying to cast the candidate in a moderate light by downplaying the Republican’s views on abortion and gay rights and saying voters should not expect him to take significant action on those social issues if he is elected.

Democrats Gather in the Heart of Billy Graham Country

Religion News Service photo courtesy of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
A giant cross-shaped window at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. RNS photo courtesy of Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc.

The host city for the Democratic National Convention is not a particularly political place. Charlotte, N.C., is known for three things: banking, NASCAR, and religion.

And when it comes to religion, Billy Graham’s spirit looms large.

America’s most famous evangelist of the 20th century was born on a dairy farm just outside of town and was raised in Charlotte, home of his ministry.

For the Democrats – labeled disparagingly by some Republicans as the party of secular humanism – Charlotte is not a bad place to try and raise their religious profile.

Baptist Leader Stands His Political Ground Amidst Akin Furor

ST. LOUIS — Don Hinkle stands out among the serious, conservative men of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Not that Hinkle isn't conservative or serious. He is both. But Hinkle prefers bow ties, which — along with his white, furry mustache and thatch of white hair — give him a sort of plump Mark Twain air.

Late last week, a church-state watchdog group in Washington filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service accusing Hinkle, who is also his organization's director of public policy, with violating federal tax law by intervening in two campaigns for public office.

Those were the Republican primary campaigns of U.S. Rep. Todd Akin for U.S. Senate, and Ed Martin for Missouri attorney general.

The 500,000-member Missouri Baptist Convention is the state arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, with about 16 million members.

In his column in the May edition of the Pathway, the state convention's newsjournal, Hinkle wrote that while he did not want an American theocracy, "when it comes to public policy, Southern Baptists must be motivated by love for our fellow citizens, believing that God's way is the best way."

For that reason, Hinkle continued, "I personally support candidates like U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican who wants to challenge Democrat Claire McCaskill for her U.S. Senate seat, and Republican Ed Martin, the St. Louis attorney who is running for state attorney general."

Southern Baptist Leader Richard Land Announces Retirement

Richard Land
Richard Land

Richard Land, the man who became the public face of the Southern Baptist Convention on ethical and political issues for nearly 25 years, has announced plans to retire in 2013 after a rough-and-tumble spring.

The decision comes months after Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, made controversial comments about the Trayvon Martin case that resulted in a reprimand and the loss of his radio talk show for the racial tension they caused.

Land, 65, said in a Tuesday letter announcing his retirement that he has no intention of ending his role as a culture warrior.

“I believe the ‘culture war’ is a titanic spiritual struggle for our nation’s soul and as a minister of Christ’s Gospel, I have no right to retire from that struggle,” Land wrote in a two-page letter to the acting chairman of his commission.

Mormons and Baptists Compete for Converts

RNS photo courtesy the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Mormon Missionaries — RNS photo courtesy the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jake Pulsipher's first day as a working missionary for the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board began at 6:30 a.m. with prayer and exercise, followed by breakfast and study.

Then he put on a black suit, white shirt, and red tie, along with his official name tag, and headed out to knock on doors and tell people about Jesus. In doing so, he became the latest of 20,000 Mormon missionaries in the United States.

Every year, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spend tens of millions of dollars to spread their takes on Christianity. They rely heavily on thousands of faithful volunteers willing to spread out across the country to share their faith.

The two groups are among the four largest denominations in the United States -- Southern Baptists are second and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fourth, according to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches from the National Council of Churches. The Catholic Church is No. 1 and the United Methodist Church is No. 3.

They are also competitors for converts, says Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

''Methodists are not out knocking on doors. Mormons are,'' he said.

Southern Baptists’ Richard Land Loses Show, Keeps Job

Dr. Richard Land testifying in 2010. Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call via Getty Images

A top Southern Baptist official who was accused of plagiarism in a radio segment that claimed civil rights leaders and President Obama used the Trayvon Martin case to stir racial tensions will lose his weekly call-in program but can keep his main job, a church panel announced Friday.

Richard Land, the influential head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and the denomination’s top policy spokesman, was rebuked for racial insensitivity and for not attributing the source of his radio commentaries after a review by ERLC trustees.

The controversy over Land’s explosive remarks in a March 31 radio program was especially awkward as Southern Baptists are expected to elect an African-American pastor, the Rev. Fred Luter, as the denomination's first black president later this month.

The investigators chided Land for “his hurtful, irresponsible, insensitive, and racially charged words” in a broadcast of the “Richard Land Live!” show in which Land accused Obama and black civil rights activists of using the Trayvon Martin shooting to foment racial strife and boost the president’s re-election chances.

Baptist Leader Critiques Anti-Gay Comments

A Southern Baptist leader who works on gay outreach has criticized recent anti-gay comments by two Baptist pastors in North Carolina, saying they “show a complete lack of understanding of how to minister to those struggling with this particular temptation.”

Though the Southern Baptist Convention has long condemned homosexuality, Bob Stith, the SBC’s national strategist for gender issues, said the remarks – made by pastors who are not affiliated with his denomination – lacked compassion.

After Meeting with Black Southern Baptists, Richard Land Apologizes (Again)

Richard Land. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.
Richard Land. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Southern Baptist leader Richard Land has issued a lengthy public apology for his racially charged comments about the Trayvon Martin case, and said he has sent a personal letter to President Obama seeking forgiveness.  

Land, who leads the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, issued the two-page apology Wednesday (May 9), a week after a five-hour meeting with African-American leaders and other Southern Baptist officials.  

Because of that meeting, "I have come to understand in sharper relief how damaging my words were," he wrote in the statement released through his denomination's news service.  

Land had previously apologized for his comments, which charged Democrats and civil rights leaders with exploiting the killing of the unarmed Florida teen. He also has apologized for failing to attribute the material he used when discussing the case on his radio show. 

SBC's Richard Land Says Obama, Jackson, Sharpton 'Exploiting' Trayvon Martin's Death

Richard Land. Photo via Getty Images.
Richard Land. Photo via Getty Images.

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.”

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