Richard Land and the Censoring of Discourse about Race in America

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English: Vectorized Southern Baptist Conventio...

English: Vectorized Southern Baptist Convention logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Richard Land‘s radio show has been canceled by the Southern Baptist Convention. Although Mr. Land was cited for plagiarism, which he apparently did commit, this was not the focus of the SBC’s statement. The SBC was concerned about Mr. Land’s allegedly inflammatory remarks concerning the Trayvon Martin case.

What did Mr. Land say that was so horrible? He said that Mr. Obama was taking political advantage of the situation. One can make a good case for this claim–Mr. Obama said that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin–this could be construed as an attempt to shore up support among his base. Political charges similar to Mr. Land’s claims have been made quite frequently in conservative circles, though perhaps with more tact than Mr. Land used. Mr. Land also referred to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as race baiters. An even more solid case can be made for that claim–are Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton beyond criticism? Should they escape the inevitable criticism that those in the public eye routinely face? Surely not except in a liberal fantasy world. Does anyone remember the Tawana Brawley case or the Duke Lacrosse case and how Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton stirred emotions to a dangerous level in cases that turned out to be other than Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton claimed?

Discourse about race has become so emotionally charged that the range of politically correct things to say has narrowed to the point that one cannot say anything outside the liberal party line without being labeled a racist. Now I don’t know if Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter or not–I will wait until the facts of the case come out. Pointing out the fact that some individuals are using the case to agitate others and to stir up dangerous emotions is not irresponsible or wrong. The more the left and the pseudo-right shut off discourse, the more frustrated those silenced become. If those silenced already had wrong attitudes, they will only be hardened in them. If they did not have wrong attitudes, they are far more likely to gain them after being silenced. Cutting off discussion of race will most likely lead to an increase, not to a decrease, in racism.

I have noticed a leftward trend in conservative Evangelical churches over the last few years, fueled by liberals in their academic institutions. These colleges, universities, and seminaries train ministers and other church officials. They may be technically “conservative,” but they buy into much of the left’s beliefs, including supporting politically correct speech on race. If Mr. Land had used an obscenity to refer to another race, he should have been fired and disciplined by the church. If he had claimed that one race was intrinsically superior to another, then he should have been disciplined. He said neither of those things. Yet he lost his radio show and was forced to apologize–I do not doubt the sincerity of his apology. What I doubt (without defending everything Mr. Land said and not justifying his plagiarism)  is the apparent belief of Southern Baptist officials that any criticism of Mr. Obama, Mr. Jackson, or Mr. Sharpton is tantamount to racism, which is an absurd position.

Belmont University’s “Inclusiveness”

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Freeman Hall at Belmont University in Nashvill...

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Belmont University has decided to add “sexual orientation” to its nondiscrimination policy. I remember the days when Belmont was a fairly conservative Southern Baptist university–it is still a huge rival of my alma mater, David Lipscomb University. But Belmont has cut its ties with the Southern Baptist Convention and no longer considers itself bound by traditional Christian moral teachings.

Someone might argue that a nondiscrimination policy does not imply acceptance of practicing homosexuality. The difficulty with that argument is that a nondiscrimination policy places sexual orientation on the same par as race and sex–just another non-essential difference between human beings when it comes to admissions and hiring. In addition, if the policy is consistently applied to faculty as well as to students,  it would allow practicing homosexuals to teach at an ostensibly Christian university.

Traditional Christians have long desired to send their children to educational institutions that uphold the orthodox Christian faith. State universities, with their general hostility to Christianity, are not an option for these parents and their children. But the options are increasingly being taken away as “Christian” schools hire faculty who often hide their true positions until they receive tenure. The university does not want a lawsuit on its hands, so it keeps those faculty, who hire more faculty in their own image. Over time, the traditional Christian nature of the college or university evaporates and is replaced by a watered down liberal Christianity that puts tolerance above the teaching of the church. Sadly, that is what has happened at Belmont University. I pray that the same process does not take place at Lipscomb, my alma mater, but as it increases in size and influence, it, too may follow the ways of the secular world. It is one thing to be an at institution which from the start is mainline Protestant–one expects a general liberal bias at those schools (although they will hire the occasional traditional Christian!). But for a school traditionally loyal to the historic Christian faith to deny the basic sexual ethics held by the Christian Church from the beginning is a betrayal of its Christian mission. Belmont is a fine university academically, but potential students for whom it is important to attend a traditional Christian college or university should consider other schools.