Monthly Archives: April 2012

WHY THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION NEEDS TO GO ON RECORD REPUDIATING THE LAND RACIAL REMARKS

From the, “Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.: New Blog for a Pneuma Time” blog, with my thanks for my friend Pastor McKissic’s fearless and faithful Christian thinking on matters of culture and faith, especially within the SBC:

  • WHY THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION NEEDS TO GO ON RECORD REPUDIATING THE LAND RACIAL REMARKS

By

William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

April 18, 2012

Richard Land’s racial remarks against the backdrop of the Trayvon Martin tragedy are the most damaging, alienating, and offensive words about race that I’ve read or heard, rendered by a SBC personality, in the twenty-eight years that I’ve served as a SBC church planter/pastor.

The pain that Richard Land inflicted upon Blacks in the SBC is a pain that would be only felt greater by the pain inflicted upon Trayvon Martin’s family by George Zimmerman. In his non apology—apology, he blames those of us who responded to his racial views, for the pain we felt. The opening line in his letter of apology, dated April 16, 2012, says, “I am writing to express my deep regret for any hurt or misunderstanding my comments about the Trayvon Martin case have generated.” He then blames his readers and listeners for not being “progressive” enough to be on the same page with him racially:

“Clearly, I overestimated the progress that has been made in slaying the ugly racist ghosts of the past in our history. I also clearly underestimated the extent to which we must go out of our way not to be misunderstood when we speak to issues where race is a factor…Please know that I apologize to any and all who were hurt or offended by my comments.”

Note carefully that he never acknowledges that the problem was caused by the substance of his words but rather by the misunderstanding of his words. He begins and ends by telling us that the problem was the response to his words and the lack of progress in the public square as it relates to understanding or accepting his words. This is a huge problem for the President of the Ethics Division of the SBC to attempt to pass this on as a genuine apology. However, I accept his apology simply because he asked; and therefore, feel biblically constrained to do so (Ephesians 4:32; Matthew 5:23-25).

I remain appalled at his unrepentant words. And since Dr. Land will not repent of his words, I feel compelled to ask the SBC by way of resolution to repudiate and renounce the racially offensive, biblically unjustifiable and factually incorrect words of Dr. Richard Land. He spoke these words as an official of the SBC; therefore, the SBC must take ownership and responsibility for Dr. Land’s words. I could not with a good conscience attend a SBC meeting in the post Luter years, or increase giving to the Cooperative Program as long as Land’s words remain un-repented of. To do so would be to engage in self-hatred; the exercise and practice of low self-esteem; to support Land’s view of racial profiling and his flawed racial reasoning.

What was even more troubling to me than Land’s remarks, was his assertion that the vast majority of Southern Baptists agree with his racial views. If he is accurate in his assessment, it confirms the suspicion that many Black Baptists have held for years regarding Southern Baptists; and that is many Southern Baptists, if not the majority, inherently and instinctively don’t honestly respect, relate to or view Blacks with a mindset of mutual respect, equality and understanding. Blacks are primarily viewed as mission projects, not as mission partners. Inadvertently, Dr. Land opened to us the window of his heart and showed us this painful reality (Mark 7:20-23). The question now is, did Richard Land show us the heart of the entirety of the SBC?

To read Land’s initial comments and his apology is painful, shameful and heartbreaking for many of us. Now the SBC must take ownership of Dr. Land’s words, because according to Dr. Land, his words reflect the views of his constituency. There are three reasons why I believe the SBC must repudiate Dr. Land’s remarks; or I, for one, will remove myself from SBC gatherings.

I.                    Dr. Land’s Racial Comments Are Factually Incorrect

Land owes President Obama an apology for assigning a racial motive to the POTUS Trayvon Martin remarks without any factual evidence to support his claim. President Obama said, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin.” President Obama was expressing Christian compassion, parental affirmation and support, and heartfelt identification with the grief and pain the family was suffering. For Dr. Land or anyone else to read anything else into the POTUS statement, they would have to do what theologians call “isogete” (reading into), rather than “exegeting” (taking out of). Land Says President Obama was “pouring gasoline on racialist fires” when he made the above statement. Dr. Land is simply factually incorrect.

Dr. Land falsely accused President Obama again, “It was Mr. Obama who turned this tragedy into a national issue.” Again, that’s simply not true. When the Samford Police Department took forty plus days to arrest George Zimmerman and the national media began to report this fairly early on, that’s what turned this story into a national issue. Again, Dr. Land owes the President an apology.

Dr. Land referred to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as “race hustlers” and “ambulance chasers” with respect to their role in the Trayvon Martin case. I happened to hear an interview where Trayvon’s mom and dad said that they called and asked Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton—both Baptist Ministers—to come and support them in the aftermath of Trayvon’s death. It is simply factually inaccurate and unkind to say to ministers who have been requested by a family to support them that they are “race hustlers” and “ambulance chasers” for fulfilling a ministry responsibility. Dr. Land owes these two men an apology. I know for a fact they were simply responding to the requests of Trayvon’s family. This is an unethical accusation coming from the chief ethics officers of the SBC. Shameful!

Dr. Land, speaking of Rev. Jackson, Rev. Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan says, “In their eyes segregation has never been truly repealed; it has just become invisible…They need Trayvon Martin’s to continue perpetuating their central myth:  America is a racist and an evil nation. For them, is always Selma Alabama, circa 1965.” Dr. Land would be surprised to learn that if he has accurately summarized the beliefs of Jackson, Sharpton and Farrakhan with regard to “segregation,” this may be the only true statement he made; the vast majority of African Americans would agree with the “In their eyes…” statement. Land has to look no further than the Annual SBC meeting, the SBC Executive Offices and Sunday morning in most SBC churches to see the kind of segregation he described. Dr. Land’s comments are not only factually incorrect, they are biblically unjustifiable.

II.                  Land’s Comments Are Biblically Unjustifiable

As I’ve listened to Black Baptists discuss Land’s comments, I believe his most offensive remark related to his belief in justified racial profiling. The SBC must repudiate the profiling comment, if nothing else. According to the prosecutor and investigators in Florida, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed because of Zimmerman’s profiling. Land’s comments gives ecclesiastical license from the SBC for this kind of profiling. Land’s racial profiling comments are analogous to what the major SBC pastors and theologians said about Black people for many years—for which they have never repented of—and that is, Black people were cursed by God. Land’s “justifiable profiling” doctrine is virtually identical and analogous to the SBC “curse of Ham” doctrine. Land just presented the 21st Century version of the “curse of Ham” doctrine, financed with Cooperative Program dollars. This is an egregious offense. Black SBC churches only give 1% to the Cooperative Program. Nevertheless, our churches helped to finance Richard Land’s communicating to all of America that racial profiling is justifiable.  It was the justifiable profiling doctrine that led the SBC to conclude that slavery and segregation were biblically permissible. Land has revived that doctrine. According to Dr. Land, persons like me are worthy of being profiled.

Dr. Land’s position on racial profiling is contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Bible. In Malachi 2:10, the prophet said:

“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?”

In Acts 10:34, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.”

In Acts 17:26, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,”

In Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Dr. Land’s most serious racially offensive statement was the “profiling” remark. This is the statement that would make me a suspect if a crime occurred at the annual SBC meeting while I’m in attendance. Now that I know how Dr. Land feels about profiling, I no longer feel welcome at a SBC gathering, especially if the majority of the SBC agrees with Dr. Land.

Why would Dr. Land speak out on the Trayvon Martin case, while he remained silent about a litany of racial atrocities in SBC life? (http://dwightmckissic.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/attitudes-toward-race-in-sbc-life/) (http://dwightmckissic.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/lessons-from-the-animal-kingdom/)  Why does Dr. Land remain silent about the fact that the majority of persons incarcerated are Caucasian? Why does Dr. Land remain silent about approximately 70% of all arrests in 2008 were Whites being arrested according to Royce West, Jr., a criminal justice professor and practicing attorney at the University of Texas at Arlington? If Dr. Land were balanced or fair, he would have to also look at statistics and argue for the justifiable criminal profiling of Whites. I don’t think we need to profile anyone and neither do I appreciate the Chief Ethics Officer of the SBC advocating profiling. Racial profiling resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin. It is no small matter that the SBC is now embracing racial profiling.

III.                Land’s Comments Are Racially Offensive and Balanced in Favor of Zimmerman

Dr. Land said:

“It turns out that alleged shooter George Zimmerman is hardly some kind of white supremacist. He’s Hispanic on his mother’s side. His mother is Peruvian. He has black family members. He has mentored black children and is a registered Democrat.

And Martin isn’t exactly a saint.  He’d been suspended three times for vandalism, truancy and carrying a baggie with pot residue.”

Dr. Land owes Trayvon’s parents an apology for this unfair and unbalanced assault on the character of a dead man, whose life was cut short by a man who shares Land’s profiling doctrine. George Zimmerman has been arrested for assaulting a police officer, domestic battery arrests and alcohol related arrests. Dr. Land mentions none of Zimmerman’s “unsaintly” history, but yet he attempts to paint Trayvon as a person worthy of profiling and, consequently, death. The SBC owes Trayvon’s parents an apology for helping to finance this unfair and unbalanced assault on a dead man paid for by the Southern Baptist Convention. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of our actions in this regard.

Richard Land has about as much business being in charge of the ethics of the SBC as I have being in charge of the physically-fit society or George Zimmerman being in charge of a battered women’s shelter and the temperance society. I trust and pray that Dr. Land will repent of his racially and attitudinally flawed words. If he doesn’t, I pray that the SBC will have the courage and character to hold him accountable by repudiating his remarks and dismissing him from an office that he no longer has the credibility to hold.

The real test of the SBC racial progress is not electing a man of color to a two-year position, but rather demonstrating respect and equality toward people of color eternally. There is not a person of color in the SBC today who serves as an entity head and manages a budget. Unfortunately, that will remain true even after Dr. Luter is elected president. Why would Dr. Land address the Trayvon Martin matter, when he has not addressed the current lack of racial inclusion and empowerment in SBC life? The SBC casts the wrong votes about slavery and segregation in the past. The question now is will the SBC cast the right votes regarding the repudiation of the Land racial remarks?

 

The Fool: “Convicted of Madness:” John Calvin on Psalm 1

Ps. 14:1. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God; they have corrupted; They have done abominable work; there is none that doeth good.

Many of the Jews are of opinion that in this psalm there is given forth a prediction concerning the future oppression of their nation: as if David, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, bewailed the afflicted condition of the Church of God under the tyranny of the Gentiles. They therefore refer what is here spoken to the dispersed condition in which we see them at the present day, as if they were that precious heritage of God which the wild beasts devour. But it is very apparent, that in wishing to cover the disgrace of their nation, they wrest and apply to the Gentiles, without any just ground, what is said concerning the perverse children of Abraham. We cannot certainly find a better qualified interpreter than the Apostle Paul, and he applies this psalm expressly to the people who lived under the law, (Romans 3:19.) Besides, although we had not the testimony of this Apostle, the structure of the psalm very clearly shows that David means rather the domestic tyrants and enemies of the faithful than foreign ones; a point which it is very necessary for us to understand. We know that it is a temptation which pains us exceedingly, to see wickedness breaking forth and prevailing in the midst of the Church, the good and the simple unrighteously afflicted, while the wicked cruelly domineer according to their pleasure. This sad spectacle almost completely disheartens us; and, therefore, we have much need to be fortified from the example which David here sets before us: so that, in the midst of the greatest desolations which we behold in the Church, we may comfort ourselves with this assurance, that God will finally deliver her from them. I have no doubt that there is here described the disordered and desolate state of Judea which Saul introduced when he began to rage openly. Then, as if the remembrance of God had been extinguished from the minds of men, all piety had vanished, and with respect to integrity or uprightness among men, there was just as little of it as of godliness.

The fool hath said. As the Hebrew word ‫נבל, nabal, signifies not only a fool, but also a perverse, vile, and contemptible person, it would not have been unsuitable to have translated it so in this place; yet I am content to follow the more generally received interpretation, which is, that all profane persons, who have cast off all fear of God and abandoned themselves to iniquity, are convicted of madness. David does not bring against his enemies the charge of common foolishness, but rather inveighs against the folly and insane hardihood of those whom the world accounts eminent for their wisdom. We commonly see that those who, in the estimation both of themselves and of others, highly excel in sagacity and wisdom, employ their cunning in laying snares, and exercise the ingenuity of their minds in despising and mocking God. It is therefore important for us, in the first place, to know, that however much the world applaud these crafty and scoffing characters, who allow themselves to indulge to any extent in wickedness, yet the Holy Spirit condemns them as being fools; for there is no stupidity more brutish than forgetfulness of God. We ought, however, at the same time, carefully to mark the evidence on which the Psalmist comes to the conclusion that they have cast off all sense of religion, and it is this: that they have overthrown all order, so that they no longer make any distinction between right and wrong, and have no regard for honesty, nor love of humanity. David, therefore, does not speak of the hidden affection of the heart of the wicked, except in so far as they discover themselves by their external actions. The import of his language is, How does it come to pass, that these men indulge themselves in their lusts so boldly and so outrageously, that they pay no regard to righteousness or equity; in short, that they madly rush into every kind of wickedness, if it is not because they have shaken off all sense of religion, and extinguished, as far as they can, all remembrance of God from their minds? When persons retain in their heart any sense of religion, they must necessarily have some modesty, and be in some measure restrained and prevented from entirely disregarding the dictates of their conscience. From this it follows, that when the ungodly allow themselves to follow their own inclinations, so obstinately and audaciously as they are here represented as doing, without any sense of shame, it is an evidence that they have cast off all fear of God.

The Psalmist says that they speak in their heart. They may not utter this detestable blasphemy, There is no God, with their mouths; but the unbridled licentiousness of their life loudly and distinctly declares that in their hearts, which are destitute of all godliness, they soothingly sing to themselves this song. Not that they maintain, by drawn out arguments or formal syllogisms, as they term them, that there is no God, (for to render them so much the more inexcusable, God from time to time causes even the most wicked of men to feel secret pangs of conscience, that they may be compelled to acknowledge his majesty and sovereign power;) but whatever right knowledge God instills into them they partly stifle it by their malice against him, and partly corrupt it, until religion in them becomes torpid, and at last dead. They may not plainly deny the existence of a God, but they imagine him to be shut up in heaven, and divested of his righteousness and power; and this is just to fashion an idol in the room of God. As if the time would never come when they will have to appear before him in judgment, they endeavor, in all the transactions and concerns of their life, to remove him to the greatest distance, and to efface from their minds all apprehension of his majesty. And when God is dragged from his throne, and divested of his character as judge, impiety has come to its utmost height; and, therefore, we must conclude that David has most certainly spoken according to truth, in declaring that those who give themselves liberty to commit all manner of wickedness, in the flattering hope of escaping with impunity, deny in their heart that there is a God. As the fifty-third psalm, with the exception of a few words which are altered in it, is just a repetition of this psalm, I will show in the proper places, as we proceed, the difference which there is between the two psalms. David here complains that they have done abominable work; but for the word work, the term there employed is iniquity. It should be observed that David does not speak of one work or of two; but as he had said, that they have perverted or corrupted all lawful order, so now he adds, that they have so polluted their whole life, as to make it abominable, and the proof of this which he adduces is, that they have no regard to uprightness in their dealings with one another, but have forgotten all humanity, and all beneficence towards their fellow-creatures.