Richard Land, Trayvon Martin & the SBC

As an African-American who has been spiritually nurtured by the men and women of the Southern Baptist Convention. I feel a deep sense of gratitude and indebtedness. Thankfully, more and more African-American brothers and sisters are joining the SBC ranks, locking arms for the cause of Christ.

I am grateful for the steps the SBC has taken toward the goal of racial reconciliation. This is a complex problem that requires leadership on multiple fronts, whether on the grass-roots level, in denominational strategies, or in SBC resolutions.  Countless Southern Baptists have helped advance these critical issues, and I am encouraged by their continued work, and our steady movement in the right direction.

But we haven’t arrived.

The recent comments by Richard Land, president of the ERLC, regarding the death of Trayvon Martin are an example of this. The media and blogs have shown us in great detail what was said by Dr. Land and the extent of his apology. Because of this, I won’t be focusing on whether or not Land plagiarized, or whether or not the statistics are correct (although there is plenty that needs to be said and done). There is quite a bit of discussion on these issues already.

I simply want to say that in the wake of Dr. Land’s statements, apology, and the response from the ERLC, my spirit is broken for multiple reasons.  First, my initial sorrow comes from the non-apologetic apology of Dr. Land and its acceptance by SBC leaders.  I am aware that we will all make mistakes, but the journey toward racial reconciliation will be hindered without genuine confession and apologies.  Admitting that you are sorry that others were offended is not a Christ-honoring apology. Real racial reconciliation depends upon real apologies for real mistakes.

Secondly, many African-American brothers and sisters in the SBC are being pressured to leave. It’s difficult to articulate the kind of uproar these situations cause for us.  Many non-African-American Southern Baptists would be surprised at how routinely we have to defend our participation in the SBC, and our spirits have been shaken by the unfolding of these events.

Lastly, I am an enthusiastic advocate of the SBC to those beyond our fellowship.  It is my joy to promote the SBC’s love for the scriptures, passion for missions, and advances toward racial reconciliation.  Occasions like this continually place asterisks by all of the good gospel-work being done in our convention and it is increasingly difficult to convince African-American brothers and sisters to stay, much less encourage others to join.

The process of healing this wound begins with we as a convention holding one another accountable to make real apologies for real mistakes.  Also, I’m hopeful that the SBC leadership will take steps to restore the shaken confidence of African-Americans in the SBC, granting us a leg to stand on both inside and outside of its fellowship.

Comments 0

  1. Walter,

    I appreciate your blog post. You hit on the right stuff. As a pastor who has more experience than your average white guy in black culture let me say I understand some of the tension you face. I was a member of a Missionary Baptist Church in El Paso and Germany. I had the privilege to serve as the evangelism pastor and executive pastor in an black church in Arlington.

    I have become deeply concerned as of late at the racial realities that have surfaced to the top in light of the Trayvon Martin case. My heart is broken for a few of the following reasons:

    1. Trayvon Martin is dead.

    2. George Zimmerman was not arrested immediately.

    3. The racial division that surfaced that did not have to surface as it was only surfaced because —

    — the tone of leaders like Al Sharpton. I know he has been a leader who has gotten results for justice. But I am convinced we live in a post Sharpton era. Because of his tone and rhetoric some people will not listen to him and when they see him as the spokesman, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, they will not listen.

    This is a problem that we cannot ignore if we want to move forward. If we continue to bury our real feelings, we will not move forward.

    — the tone of leaders like Richard Land. I believe Land made the mistake of speaking out as a “politician.” So the difference between him and other news commentators is Land is accountable to the SBC and has more to lose if he gets it wrong, which he did. Again, Land spoke as a politician. His approach is passive and resolutional. Resolutions are only political attempts to say, “I’m not racial” without having the right conversations.

    Until the SBC leaders make real moves toward getting to the heart of the matter, we are doomed.

    — The media poured gas on the situation.

    4. Let me end by saying we often wait to have conversations on race until it is too late. Let me say it again, “we wait until something goes wrong to have the conversations we should have had already.” And the church stands condemned at every angle because of what we fail to condemn. And white and blacks bunker down and fail to seek trust.

    I have so much more to say on this but this post is getting long. I love you. Let me say on behalf of everyone and anyone who will let me say it, “I’m sorry for what you have to deal with because of our failure to do what is right.” Don’t leave the SBC. Together for the Great Commission will make more inroads than if you went solo or to another convention. I hope you can explain to your circles that there are good reasons to move forward for God’s the purpose of the gospel.

    Whatever I can do to help, let me know.

  2. Seems like your reasoned approach and passionate treatment of the subject indicates that you may well be the one to affect the racial reconciliation of the SBC.

  3. honestly, anyone who knows my father at all knows that he does not have even one racist bone in his body. My father has always stood up for and fought for racial reconciliation. I was raised by the man. I know him. He did apologize. He apologized for not being as cautious or careful as he should have been when discussing sensitive a subject matter. That IS admitting a mistake. But you cannot ask the man to apologize for something he isn’t or didn’t do. Just because a person says something that some may not agree with or even anger said specific group of people, doesn’t make the comments themselves incorrect or invalid. If I said something that maybe could have been said in a more racially sensitive way, I should apologize for the way I said it, not what I said. By the way, none of our family’s African American friends think any of us are racist. At all.

  4. Richard:

    I never called your father a racist.

    I do not believe he is a racist. So let me put that to rest from my angle. I met your father once years ago and have appreciated his ministry. Although this situation has put a “check” in my spirit about the ERLC. But that is for another time and out of my scope of influence.

    Your father is under enormous pressure right now. And the truth or intent is not always the only answer in race matters. It’s emotion. And that is the challenge. You can line up all the people you want, but they will not be able to immediately erase the “emotion” of the comments your father made.

    I read your father’s apology. I thought it was a politician’s type apology. In other words, from the angle of a black man, which I’m not, his apology read like he was doing it because he had too. True? I have no idea. What I do know is what he said in the Martin case was at times not factual and at the same time just as divisive as Al Sharton’s comments can be to a white person. People are played out on insensitive remarks when obvious empathy should be expressed. Whites usually do not get that, in our rush to state our own justice desires. We rush to the end when black culture is waiting to see if we will empathize first. HUGE THING.

    I am truly sorry for your situation. Yet what your father needs to do is to apologize not for what other people perceived, but for what he said that was his opinion, but not necessarily true of the President’s motives and or Sharpton’s motives. And I am not a Sharpton guy. I believe we live in a post Sharpton era and need post Sharpton leadership. But even when I criticize Sharpton, and I have some moral authority and experience to do so, it’s a tough sell.

    Tough stuff. You all are in a tight spot.

    Bottom line: for the sake of the gospel and reconciliation, your father, Dr. Land, needs to say, “I am sorry for the content of my remarks as the claims in them are not true (who can know the President’s motives? We can assume, but not know). I am sorry my comments hurt African-Americans.” etc.

    Your father has done much good. As I told a friend, brother and mentor recently, “Land may have undone all his good in this area because of a few comments.” You all need to get this fixed.

    What you father has failed to do, unless I missed it, is lead the SBC in a real, authentic discussion on race. We need more than a “race relations day.” We need leaders at the executive level to have race discussions at the conventions, conferences, etc, that get people talking, listening, repenting, and praying. Am I right?

    I’m calling on Johnny Hunt, Bryant Wright, Fred Luter, Dwight McKissic, Terry Turner, CHARLES STANLEY, Frank Page, Andy Stanley, Gregg Matte, John Piper, David Platt, Tony Evans, Robert Jeffress, Mac Brunson — and on and on — to OPEN YOUR MOUTHES and address this issue together. Let’s get to where we want to go. We are running out of time and Satan is laughing at us all.

    Where are the voices of courage?

  5. Thank you for your honest post. And thank you Mr. Land for sticking up for your dad. I too raised my sons not to be racist and I did not nor do I believe that I am a racist.

    But…

    and this is most difficult to understand, I was and am more racist than I understand. Let me pose an example that may be helpful. When you first come to know Christ you are filled with zeal. Your desire is to be godly and to walk in His delightful ways. But as you grow in the grace and the knowledge of your Lord Jesus you begin to be aware (alarmingly so) that you are more sinful than you ever dreamed. As your eyes are enlightened you begin to realize that this or that that you used to ignore is really the fruits of the flesh and not the fruits of Christ righteousness. So you repent as you see it to be true. And you grow in Christlikeness as a result.

    In the same way, as you begin to love your fellowman (esp in this case the black man) you begin to be aware of his plight. And as you are and are walking with him in fuller understanding you begin to become sensitive to the things that he is sensitive to. You begin to act (without coercion or measured speech) very differently and talk very differently.

    I don’t believe your dad is a racist either. But I do believe your dad erred in the same way that I err day by day. Rather than going to the offended leaders to understand their offense so that he could be truly repentant of it and be reconciled to his brothers whom he offended, he defended his non-racist position and did the generic “I’m sorry if I hurt you” non-apology. For that, he needs to be discipled.

    I thank God for opportunities to expose these matters. May God help us to understand one another. “Wisdom is supreme therefore get it. But understanding, though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” Prov. 4:7

  6. I appreciate your thoughts and concerns about this situation, and being white, I can’t say 100% that I know exactly how this situation makes you feel. I would, however, like to try to explain something like this from my perspective. Please don’t take this as anything other than my opinion.

    I am white and not a racist.

    I can tell you, however, that many times I feel that I am perceived to be a racist by the very nature of my skin color. The black community, at least insofar as it is represented by so-called “leaders” such as Sharpton and Jackson, tell me constantly that racism is still alive, and that my community (the white community) is inherently racist. I do not myself harbor racism or tolerate it in my community, and as such I find it highly offensive whenever I’m accused of being a racist.

    The reality is that as a white person, I feel that I am constantly walking on eggshells when it comes to having any opinion on an issue that involves race in any way. I’m told that I am a racist for disagreeing with President Obama on political issues. I’m told that I bury my head in the sand when I say that I believe justice should be colorblind. In the case of Trayvon Martin, I was told that I was a racist simply for saying we should wait for all the facts to surface before having an opinion on the case.

    In that manner, I can relate to the black community in that I often feel judged based solely on MY skin color. While it’s certainly not on the same level as the injustices levied against the black community during this country’s history, the principle is the same. Like many of my peers, I vehemently resent my perception as a racist. And I can see how that, in turn, could actually serve to spur on racism rather than deter it.

    I think that true racial reconciliation is a two-way street. As long as racial reconciliation is defined as an action taken by the white community alone, it will be doomed to fail. I firmly believe that we should be stomping out all instances of true racism in this country. In the white community, we can certainly do a better job.

    However, I also believe that if the black community has work to do as well. The simplest and most effective tool is this: in matters like this one, they must be willing to give the benefit of doubt to Christian brothers of different skin colors. There is a difference between true racist comments made to intentionally offend and comments which offend unintentionally.

    If we can’t get along in the church with the love of Christ present, what hope do we have as a nation? When a person with a long history of non-racism comes forward to apologize for unintended offenses, as Christians we must take them at their word and be willing to forgive. However, if we critique their apologies and reject them because we don’t feel they are “sincere enough”, or if we continue to treat perceived racism as some sort of unforgivable sin, then I don’t think we will ever be able to achieve true racial reconciliation.

  7. Well, honestly brother. We have more than one point on which we disagree but I am not going to voice them here. I think this whole thing has been blown out of proportion. You have a God given right to have your OPINION. I have a God given right to have mine. It is okay that we disagree.

    I replied to Walter Strickland’s blog post. Not your reply to his post. My reply to you was directed to the email address I found on your churches website. I did so for this precise reason. As you said it’s about emotion. I obviously stirred up emotions, and your reply has obviously stirred up emotions in me. It was my great hope that this conversation could be fleshed out through private email and not on a blog for the world to see.

    I am bowing out of this conversation with the understanding that there is much to be said and reply to that I simply refuse to say in a blog reply. If you wish to take this up with me via personal email, you will find that I am more than willing to engage in a thought provoking discussion on this issue. However I will not simply continuously stir the pot here.

    I will take my stirring stick and insert it into the proverbial pot and stir it only once here, and only for one reason.

    You said, my father should say that he is “sorry for the content of (his) remarks as the claims in them are not true (who can know the President’s motives? We can assume, but not know).” I find faulty logic here. Maybe there is a mistake in speech here?

    Did you mean “as the claims in them may not be true?” I ask because, you then go on to say “who can know the Presidents motives? We can assume but not know.” This being true, there is no demonstrable way to know that this is in fact not exactly what his motives were. We can’t say one way or another, so to make an apology that states that the claims in his comments were in fact untrue, would be somewhat disingenuous.

    Just a thought. I will reply to your email, and will reply no further on this blog. It is not for any other reason than I wish to have a conversation with YOU about this and not everyone who wishes to comment about this. I am asking here in public that if you wish to discuss this further with me, you do so in private and not in this format.

    Rich <

  8. Walter (and, Alan, if you could),

    Please, if you could, reply to Jonathan’s post. He mentioned many of my difficulties with this whole situation….and I (and, he, I believe) are honestly seeking on these issues….and I would love to see a reply from your perspective of his comments.

  9. Jonathan — very good comments. Courageous. I agree with you. You described our context. The question we will face is “what now? or how do we get there?” And that is huge. Good stuff.

    Richard — you did enter the public conversation on your own. That is not my fault. And let me say I’m sorry for digging in so deep. I would never want to hurt you or your father for the sake of just doing do, but right now you have to be “frayed.” There can be no doubt that we need leadership right now and I hope Dr. Land, your father, can find a way out and forward. I do believe he can move the discussion forward.

    To answer your question, “Did you mean “as the claims in them may not be true?”” Yes. I did. Good point making both, or all of our points. And regardless of my slip, the point is clear.

    You are correct on the President, but the difference is comments in public about him are politically connected and emotionally charged and for right or wrong, are often not given the benefit of the doubt. As you are living.

    I will also bow out in respect of you and your father. And I’m not referring to you (us), but I think the public dialogue is good. We need more of this kind of discussion not less. Less discussion is why have this problem in light of Trayvon Martin. And your willingness to engage it is a sign of integrity on your part. You could wait it out and let it die, but you did not. Most people would have chosen to bury it.

    I will hit you up in private as a matter of integrity and for the gospel’s sake. And would love to get to know you. I’m just a “schmoe” in the SBC and have not agenda other than bringing biblical reconciliation to the church.

  10. Also…I would love to see a discussion on how WE can help with race issues in the SBC. Honestly, I think their are things that can be done in leadership….but I think that, for the most part, things have to change with US.

    I hear a lot of discussion on how we need to have more diversity in leadership, like that is the next big step….but the fact of the matter it, that has quite a few difficulties. Mainly, the fact that, in evaluating candidates for SBC office, most of those qualified will be white…because most of the SBC is white (there are other things as well, differences over cultural and social issues topping the chart.) So, I think, for the most part, it is just taking time for the leadership to cycle. I can say that, I’m not awake of any time where someone of any ethnicity was overlooked, if they were the most qualified…although maybe I show my ignorance here. But, anyway, I don’t think “leadership affirmative action” is the answer.

    But, I say all that to say this: WE need to do something….not wait on the leadership to do it for us. The battle against racism isn’t won my mandates from the top down….it is won by people who are willing to cross the cultural lines in Christian brotherhood.

  11. Ben:

    I agree and get your point on the “WE” — you are right. Yet the leaders have a big voice. I’m going to write on this soon and explain what I think the SBC needs to do next.

    I will reply to Walter’s comments.

  12. First of all Dr. Land had nothing to “genuinely confess”. It is ridiculous how people from the left, right, Southern Baptist, or not, and those who live in glass houses are wanting a more sincere apology from Dr. Land. He did apologize, and it was as sincere as it could be since he was speaking from a place of conviction. Perhaps if we held every organizational leader to the standard by which the SBC is held by everyone else under the sun we may in fact see some progress. I hear few calling for an apology from the New Black Panthers threatening remarks demanding blood in streets following the Zimmerman shooting. As for the truth about the Trayvon/Zimmerman case, let’s wait until we know what that is. It is not a travesty that Zimmerman was not immediately arrested. This was not a cold blooded murder. Personally, I appreciate and respect Dr. Land for being one of the few to have the back bone to say what he did. “The rule of law is being assaulted by racial demagogues, and it’s disgusting, and it should stop”, because it is disgusting, and it should stop. Truth knows no race, religion, or political affliation- unless of course your a white leader with the SBC.

  13. I want say I did have a few great conversations with Richard today. He pushed some of my comments and challenge me to clarify myself. It was a good conversation and I appreciated his integrity in having a conversation on a difficult topic.

    Good job Richard.

    I believe we need to pray. I prayed for the Lands today. You do the same.

    As this issue clears up, and Fred Luter is elected to the SBC Presidency, our future is bright. I plan to be a part of the good that will come out of this.

  14. I must say that I am constantly amazed at the actions of the American public. Dr. Land advised us that we should not “rush to judgment” and that “every citizen is entitled to a fair trial by jury…not by the media” and this is certainly prudent advice. How quickly we have forgotten the cases of Tawana Brawley and Crystal Gail Mangum? In the Brawley case a 15 year old African American girl claimed she had been raped and racial slurs had been written on her body. Rev. Al Sharpton called for the “heads” of the 6 white police officers only to find that it was fabricated. Crystal Gail Mangum was involved in the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the 3 white students were put on trial in the media. In this case, once again, the statements were fabricated. I might add that I attended a historically black university, so I am definitely not a racist (before I am labeled as such). However, these are facts, and sadly cases without merit. Like every American, I am saddened by the Zimmerman/Martin tragedy. These two families will never be the same. I have a son and can’t imagine the pain of the Martin’s loss. But, Dr. Land is right to caution us to not rush to judgment. It is wrong for anyone to be put on trial via the media, intimidated, threatened and to have a bounty placed on their head. It is also wrong for our President to seemingly support and fuel this movement. In my mind, Dr. Richard Land should be lauded for speaking the truth and not condemned by those such as Aaron Weaver and Ed Stetzer who are trying to promote their own careers and agendas. I do agree that honest discussions need to be had regarding racial issues in our country. Let’s pray that this will lead to healing.

  15. Jim:

    You have described the context of our present problem. But in matters like this: Zimmerman/Martin or Tawana Brawley, we often wait until matters like these to voice what we think is true. The problem is this: we should be making these arguments in between the tragic events, not only when they happen.

    The problem with Dr. Land is that he spoke for a viewpoint that many have, but somehow seemed to forget that there is a significant group of people in the SBC who were offended by the racial insensitivity.

    Weaver and Stetzer are not condemning only for what was said. They are trying to say, and so am I, that some things should just not be said until all the facts are in. And somethings should just not be said.

    Have we all not be there in some way or another?

    The answer is to fix it. How do we do that?

  16. Alan,

    I’m sorry, but I fail to understand how honest discourse can be had (concerning race relations) unless the facts are clearly identified and discussed. How can this happen when “some things should not be said”? How do we ever discuss the issues that are of concern? Sadly, sometimes uncomfortable realities have to be fleshed out and put on the table for debate. I fail to recognize the “racial insensitivity” that you mention. Dr. Land stated “that we should let the facts come out and not rush to judgment” is that racially insensitive? It certainly doesn’t seem so to me. I believe we all have the right (no matter our race) to a fair investigation and trial in this country. In addition, I have followed Dr. Land’s work in the SBC and nationally for some time. I have seen him eloquently confront racial issues (within the SBC and on the national/global front) and also seen him address abortion and other ethical/moral issues. He is an informed spokesman and a Godly man, despite the liberal medias attempts to prove otherwise. Lastly, you have said nothing to convince me that the aims of Aaron Weaver and Ed Stetzer were done for any reason other than to promote themselves and their own liberal religious agendas. Honestly, I appreciate your efforts Alan, and I believe that you genuinely want to help mend these racial divides. As a Christian, I applaud you and will pray for your continued good work in this area.

  17. Jim — this is easy.

    First, if you look at the race issue through only the Martin/Zimmerman lens, well, that is not my lens. I do not judge Dr. Land on his race relations. He obviously has been a leader, and probably THE leader in the SBC to do anything.

    So I look at it like this. It is not that Dr. Land is not able to speak to the issue. It is that he probably should have not said anything and might have also waited instead of speaking and getting the situation we/he face.

    Of course I know he has been a spokesman for racial reconciliation. That’s not the point. That is a given.

    The challenge is that in this instance, what could not have been predicted was how Black people and others would be offended by the comments. That has obviously happened.

    The problem is we only have race conversations when something huge happens and then often the wrong things are said. For example, Dr. Land, just like the President, should probably have not commented on the case. It obviously did not help.

    Ok, so lets stop defending and lets get a plan for the future. Is it really too much to ask that a clearer, “non-apology” apology be given? Now we can stay the course, but we will lose people who were offended. And we cannot lose our Black pastors … if that is the result. Maybe not? Maybe?

    And is it too much for us to say, “Hey Al Sharpton, you have done some good in the past for justice issues, but we cannot have you as our spokesman any longer because people are not listening to you?”

    No one has said Dr. Land is racist that I know of. I hear that being used as a response and I am not sure why but I understand why. I had a person call me KKK on Twitter just because I criticized Sharpton. Well, I have a black daughter. So the person obviously was running on emotion and lack of knowledge.

    The conversation gets dicey I know. Dr. Land has nothing to prove concerning his record. What he is stuck with is the now, and the future. What makes his situation different is he spoke for a denomination that has a mixed crowd.

    It is not Dr. Land’s responsibility alone to get race moved forward. Pastors have failed. Today I preached from Acts 2. I serve a predominately anglo congregation, but we have a few non-whites. I lovingly, but truthfully told our people, “God is for all people regardless of color (v. 5, 11) and if you are not on HIs program, get with the program.” So I am willing to take a risk for the cause of the gospel.

    I wonder how many pastors of mega churches would even preach racism is wrong and that it should be repented of? I’m not sure. We made a resolution in 1995. It would interesting to know how many pastors preached it at home.

    Thanks for your encouragement. I’m just talking because I care. I have no agenda other than the gospel. It would be easier to say nothing.

  18. I wrote:

    “Ok, so lets stop defending and lets get a plan for the future. Is it really too much to ask that a clearer, “non-apology” apology be given?”

    but it should just read:

    “Ok, so lets stop defending and lets get a plan for the future. Is it really too much to ask that a clearer apology be given?”

  19. Hello All,

    Sorry for my silence this weekend, I was consumed with teaching a discipleship training lock-in. Our young adults had a wonderful time studying this Great Commission imperative while being equipped for the task.

    I have a few comments and hopes for the future:

    Richard – Thank you for commenting, your family has been in my prayers in recent days. Also, I do not believe your father is a racist, I think he admitted to the wrong thing in his apology.

    Dr. Stoddard – Thank you for all of your thoughtful commentary throughout. You seem to be an excellent mixture of knowledge, humility, and zeal. I would like to sit with you for a cup of coffee in the future.

    Jonathan (and Ben) – I’m sad to say that your feeling of walking on eggshells is far too common, and unfortunately Christian leaders of many stripes have contributed to that sentiment. Let’s work toward a solution together…

    In response to all, in the coming days (Lord willing) I hope to post a follow-up blog that will begin charting a way forward for Christians in civil/social matters in the 21st century. I believe that there has been a way of going about such issues that needs to be refocused and adapted for the issues and the circumstances of the present day. It’s time to be constructive about the future, let’s get to work.

  20. Excuse me for chiming into this conversation – I’m new here and appreciate the opportunity.

    I am African-American. I was ordained in a church that was National Baptist (for those who don’t know, National Baptist can include one of four conventions – National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.; National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. International; National Missionary Baptist Convention of America; and Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.) and SBC. Matter of fact, I went to SBC schools initially, through extension opportunities in my home area.

    Having said all of that, you are right on target. I have pastored four congregations – two have been SBC/National Baptist; two – National Baptist only. I have even held positions in the African-American Fellowship in my state and held a Vice President role in a state convention). There was always a “tug” by National and independent baptists for our churches to leave SBC because of the perception that it was not a productive partnership, instead it was sharecropping (their words not mine).

    I had an associate minister that was up in age and I put him up to preach during our early morning worship. I had arrived late and was in my Study preparing for the Sunday School and second Worship service. One of my deacons ran to the office and said “Pastor, you better come to the worship and hear this sermon.” I came in and walked into the pulpit and the minister stopped, looked at me, said “Good morning Pastor. And now back to my sermon, ‘Why God Doesn’t Want Our Church in the Southern Baptist Convention…”

    It was heart-wrenching and humiliating.

    Anglo brothers don’t know the pressure. Our deacons hang out with deacons of all denominational stripe. So do our ministers and church officers. When Richard Land spoke, it was the shot heard around the world, because of the PERCEPTION that when he speaks, he speaks on behalf of the SBC. ERLC has the PERCEPTION of being the mouthpiece of SBC life. SBC is the only convention in the world where the President is overshadowed by an auxiliary in terms of spokesman. Honestly, ERLC is the bigger problem – it should be dissolved.

    Honestly, I’ve seen the SBC growth stats. If you take out the non-anglo churches out of the mix, the statistics would be frightening. There are very few persons of color in the SBC administrative side of things across the world. I remember saying once that while groups are off to the side meeting, the real decisions are being made in the session. I had the feeling that we weren’t welcome into discussions concerning SBC life.

    If I had a congregation that was SBC at present, I’d be part of the group that would remove from SBC. The PERCEPTION is that we’re not wanted, other than for statistical purposes (my opinion). I admit I was furious when I first heard this. I refuse to label the incident as racist. Boneheaded, yes. Racist, no. But the PERCEPTION from all of our people, who have a social vested interest in the Martin tragedy is that the original words cannot be erased by a written crafted apology. If he said it publicly, he should retract it publicly. That’s why many of us don’t think it’s sincere.

    Healing and reconciliation need to take place. SBC or GCB needs to signal a new era with a strong stance against statements like the ones that Dr. Land put forward as a spokesman for SBC. Otherwise, it’s business as usual and you’ll see not only a decline in African-American churches, but Hispanic churches, Asian churches, etc. and SBC/GCB will become insignificant and a stain on the religious fabric of the nation.

  21. I have heard all the comments and some I agree with and some I disagree. I am African American and a part of the SBC. All of my theological training has been in the SBC. I am tremendously grateful for that. SBC has shaped and influenced my ministry. I owe a debt of gratitude for what SBC has instilled in me. I also am an African American that has grown up in suburbia among a predominately white community and school system. I have had to listen to racial statements and stereotypes in regard to blacks all my life. The Land comments reminded me so much of those comments I grew up hearing. The comments that are made to me because I am “different” than the “other blacks” and I can understand where they are coming from. Those types of comments hurt then and they still hurt now. The Land comments carry with them so much emotion in the eyes of African Americans that have grown up hearing that all their lives. I beg my white brothers, try to understand rather than justify. A pastor once said when people were trying to minimize and marginalize “puppy love” He said “puppy love is real to the puppy!” Even though you may try to disregard our feeling on this , try to at least understand our feelings, like most of the people on this thread.
    My response to the threads and comments can be summed up in a favorite saying that I heard not to long ago,” Seek to understand rather than seeking to be understood.”
    I have heard alot of people talk about Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Let me say up front that I do not believe in a majority of their viewpoints, but let me try to understand why they were chosen. The Trayvon case would probably still be under the covers unless Sharpton and Jackson brought attention to it. Unfortunately it is a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. Perhaps the family of Trayvon tried other options before Sharpton and Jackson were called. A lesson can be learned from this. Maybe white america, particularly Christians, need to be proactive in dealing with issues like this. Maybe this can help avoid, the publicity hounds and “race baiters.” Often blacks feel that the Sharptons and the Jacksons are their last resort or their only hope for justice.
    Do you understand?
    African Americans have to understand that whites cannot be stamped as racist because they have a different viewpoint. Often values expressed are a product of their particular upbringing. Just as people that are against homosexuality are not homophobic. Every whote person that does not agree with some black ideology or speaks out against things that plague our community is not a racist.
    Do you understand?

    “Seeking to understand”, will help us as races develop a plan for the future in regard to race relations. The way we can move forward is to do like my good friend Alan has stated and also demonstrated in his own life.
    Alan has demonstrated what it truly means to have fellowship, “koinonia” with peope of other nationalities, particularly African American. I almost on a weekly basis sat down and had coffee, ate breakfast, lunch and dinner in his home. We got a chance to really know each other. We disagreed on most things political but agreed on all things theological. I have to admit I am a better person for it. Those two years of my life while he served on staff at the church was a time of tremendous growth in my spiritual life. I also grew in my understanding or racial relations from a white man’s perspective. (joke) The relationship I had was as close as I have been with anybody white or black. Although I was happy for him in his new assignment, his loss left a void in my life because we had come so close. Because of my own racilal uneasiness, I never thought that me and a Caucasian would be have a close relationship. This was because Alan demonstrated the principle in Acts 2:42.
    So, how do we move forward in race relations? We have to seriously take the initiative to have real koinonia among one another. We have to eat together, pray together, fellowship with one another and finally, seek to understand rather than seeking to be understood!

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