Richard Land Loses Radio Show over Racially-Charged Remarks, Plagiarism Scandal

The Southern Baptist Convention’s top “ethicist” Richard Land, a major Religious Right figure and cheerleader for the GOP, is about to lose his radio show, Richard Land Live, as a result of using racially-charged comments while describing the Trayvon Martin shooting and plagiarizing his material.

Back in April, we reported that the leader of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) said that African American “race hustlers” were using Martin’s death to “gin up the black vote” for President Obama, whom he said “poured gasoline on the racialist fires.” After his remarks generated controversy, as his denomination has been working to improve its relationship with the black community as a result of its racist past, Land pledged to never apologize. Later, Land issued a non-apology apology that blamed others for having “misunderstood” him, which only intensified the outcry from black pastors in the SBC.

Moreover, Baptist blogger Aaron Weaver found that Land plagiarized part of his remarks on the Martin shooting from a Washington Times column, and also plagiarized columns from other conservative publications like the Washington Examiner and Investor’s Business Daily in previous broadcasts. The ERLC promptly pulled his radio show archives off his website while Land tried to claim that it isn’t plagiarism when other people’s words are lifted on the radio.

Land eventually offered a second apology and the ERLC launched an investigation, and today released two reprimands for Land’s racially-insensitive remarks and “for quoting material without giving attribution.” The ERLC said Land’s “hurtful, irresponsible, insensitive, and racially charged words” regarding the Martin shooting had “re-opened wounds,” and acknowledged “that instances of plagiarism occurred because of his carelessness and poor judgment.”

The ERLC concluded that “the content and purpose of the Richard Land Live! broadcast” are “not congruent with the mission of the ERLC” and will be pulling the show once its contract with Salem Radio Network ends:

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.

Finally, 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.