southern baptist

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.”

Wallis and Mohler Debate Social Justice and the Gospel

What was most telling about the disagreement between the two men was their discussion of Luke 4. Mohler argued the passage should be understood in light of how he interpreted the preaching and teaching of Paul and the other apostles. This means that when Jesus said that he came to bring good news to the poor that good news was personal salvation.

Wallis argued that yes, personal salvation is one part of that good news, but that the other part is the Kingdom of God breaking into the world and transforming societal relationships as well. When the Gospel is proclaimed, it is good news for a poor person's entire being, community and world -- not just his or her soul.

First, it was encouraging to hear Mohler spend a lot of time emphasizing that working for justice is essential to fulfillment of the Great Commission. Throughout the night he repeated his concern that a lot of Churches are REALLY bad at making disciples who actually do the things Jesus told us to do. As the president of one of the largest seminaries in the world, it will be interesting to see if he is able to train a generation of pastors who will do things differently. My concern is that he is missing the connection between his theology and the failure of Christians to actually do justice.

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