Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

The Great Divorce: The Church and the GOP

After a long, frustrating courtship with the GOP, Richard Land, then President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention declared, ”The go-along, get-along strategy is dead. ‘No more engagement. We [conservative Christians] want a wedding ring, we want a ceremony, we want a consummation of the marriage.” That was 1998.

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If Not a PAC or Lobby Then What or, One More Reason to Disband the ERCL in the SBC

The ever gutsy Dave Miller over at SBC  Voices got hammered for suggesting we no longer need the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Some raced in to tout the helpful work of the ERCL. I still am looking for evidence. Instead I keep finding reasons to question if this is money well spent and if we can point to any real benefit beyond re-capitulating the Republican National Committee’s platform.

My religion reporter friend knew I was on vacation. Greg also knew I have been disturbed by the ERCL-Richard Land Debacle. He sends over a piece on Florida Baptists. The default Baptist response has been autonomy. We get some of the religious liberty side of our heritage. We do not do so well with the ethics side. Read More

Land Mass or, Trustees Carelessly Caring for SBC Land

Only a document igniting a fever pitch discussion about Calvinism in the SBC could bury the report by the ERLC Trustees of the SBC.

Suspicions confirmed. Baptist Press released the report from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission on Dr. Richard Land’s racially charged comments and plagiarism. The ERLC Trustees took more action than I suspected, but much less than most pastors or staff would have received. The typical non-celebrity pastor would have surely been terminated.

The rate of pastoral terminations for his or her own indiscretions or the systemic maladies of the churches served could be considered epidemic. Sitting in a breakfast meeting intended to help place graduates of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1988, I remember the statistic of pastoral changes for the State of Oklahoma. Clyde Cain noted, “On any given week there are 12 pastors going to new churches and 12 pastors leaving their church.” Talk about encouraging job security. Not much has changed – anywhere. Read More

A Land Beyond or, How the ERLC May Problematize Inerrancy

A crushing blow to inerrancy in the SBC will likely come on June 1st. Since 1979 the accuracy and authority of the Scriptures under the rubric of inerrancy has provided access to the SBC Speakeasy. In a single action the Trustees of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission may re-constitute the standard bearing reference to the importance of ultimate truth among most Southern Baptists.

There are two separate articles that form the most recent news about the upcoming Trustee investigative report on charges against Dr. Land regarding racism and plagiarism due on June 1st. The former has been mitigated by an apology. The latter likely hangs not on what would happen were a student to plagiarize but on the politics of a person’s “body of work.” After all a student has not had the time to amass enough credit to avoid the hook when plagiarism is discovered. Read More

Wright-ing Land

Led Zepplin hit upon our human language dilemma in the rock classic, Stairway to Heaven,

There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure

‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.

In a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird who sings,

Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,

Ooh, it makes me wonder.

Tuesday, April 18, Bryant Wright talked with Soledad O’Brien. I watched the video and read the transcript. On each occasion where Wright was asked about the substance of Land’s comments, even when offered an audio clip to specifically discuss, the response was the same. Land apologized. We should forgive. Read More