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Richard Land, the culture warriors and DOMA (why they’ve lost)

While Southern Baptist Convention ethics czar Richard Land and others were laboring to organize a Defense of Marriage Act counterattack by the culture warriors, public opinion deserted them. Capping “a long-term shift in attitudes,” same-sex marriage enjoys 53 percent support in this country, the ABC News/Washington Post Poll found. Whereas only “Forty-four percent are opposed.”

The shift in public attitudes which led to this is rapid, unrelenting and across the board:

While younger adults and liberals remain at the forefront of support for gay marriage, the new results underscore its expansion. In an ABC/Post poll five and a half years ago, for example, under-30s were the sole age group to give majority support to gay marriage, at 57 percent. Today it’s 68 percent in that group – but also 65 percent among people in their 30s, up a remarkable 23 points from the 2005 level; and 52 percent among those in their 40s, up 17 points.

Adults 50 and older remain more skeptical, but even that’s seen change. Most notably, 33 percent of seniors now say gay marriage should be legal, up from 18 percent five years ago.

Trends among other groups are equally striking. Compared with five years ago support for gay marriage has grown by 10 points among women, but by 18 points among men; it’s now at parity. Support has grown by 17 points among Democrats, but also by 13 points among independents, to a clear majority, 58 percent, in the crucial political center. And it’s 63 percent among moderates, up 21 points.

As for religious groups for which opposition to same-sex marriage is doctrinaire — wherein one finds Land’s core support group and the choir to which he preaches — the shift in attitudes is equally unrelenting:

Support is up by a striking 23 points among white Catholics, often a swing group and one that’s been ready, in many cases, to disregard church positions on political or social issues. But they have company: Fifty-seven percent of non-evangelical white Protestants now also support gay marriage, up 16 points from its level five years ago. Evangelicals, as noted, remain very broadly opposed. But even in their ranks, support for gay marriage is up by a double-digit margin.

It is inopportune, Richard, to negotiate a truce in the culture war over same-sex marriage. Not however, as you and your allies argue, because a majority of Americans support fallback to the intolerance of a bygone era. They don’t and the trends suggest that you will see the time when a majority of your target audience doesn’t either.

March 18, 2011 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | , , | Comments Off

Richard Land’s embrace of Peter King’s Muslim McCarthyism

The Souther Baptist Convention’s Richard Land struck an “innocent until proven guilty” pose in defense of Republican Rep. Peter King’s hearings on the “radicalization” of Muslims in the United States.

The Christian Post reported:

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, praised the upcoming meetings for allowing Muslim leaders to separate themselves from Islamic terrorists and establish their loyalty to the United States.

“This is a great opportunity for the Muslim community to come forward and denounce terrorism,” Land told The Christian Post on Monday.

The long-time religious freedom expert said he would advise Muslim leaders to reject the acts of American terrorists – such as that of Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square – and to aid authorities to stop the recruitment of American Muslims by terrorist groups.

“If they (Muslims) don’t do that and attack the questioning, they’re exacerbating the problem,” Land said.

Land and King use the term “Muslim community” in the same McCarthyite way, as William Saletan explains:

Through this phrase—the “Muslim community”—King has casually substituted unnamed Muslim “leaders” for Muslim citizens as representatives of American Islam. Yesterday on MSNBC, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post told King, “You have alleged that the Muslim American community has not been forthcoming in helping law enforcement officials deal with radicalization.” King replied: “I talk to cops and counterterrorism people on the ground all the time, and they get virtually no cooperation.” Robinson accused King of assuming “that the Muslim American community, a religious minority in this country, is somehow abetting and aiding and giving shelter to this process of radicalization, when that is clearly not the truth.” King shot back: “It is the truth.”

No it isn’t the truth.

A study released in February by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security (a combined effort by Duke University, the University of North Carolina and the Research Triangle Institute) found that:

  1. The “number of Muslim-Americans engaged in terrorist acts” is declining. It fell “from 18 in 2009 to 10 in 2010.”
  2. When Muslim-American terrorist suspects were brought to the attention of U.S. officials, “the largest single source of initial information (48 of 120 cases) involved tips from the Muslim-American community.”

King has responded to the study with claims that off-the-record sources report the opposite. Thus neither the existence of King’s sources, nor if they exist their credibility, can be examined.

Too convenient, and so not persuasive.

As a result the onus is still on King, and therefore on Land, to demonstrate that there are in fact truly compelling reasons for the hearings, which begin Thursday.

March 9, 2011 Posted by | Politics, Uncategorized | , | Comments Off

ERLC’s Richard Land deserves ‘Lie of the Year’ recognition

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land is closely identified with the lie that President Barack Obama’s plan to overhaul the American health insurance system is a government takeover of health care that he deserves dishonorable mention.

A well-constructed Google search finds more than 9,000 ties between Land and that argument.

His most extravagant stunt in service of that lie was an alleged 1.3-million signature petition by the National Center for Policy Analysis/Salem Radio Network (for which he is a show host). At the time, he said:

This petition is indicative of a spontaneous grass roots eruption of protest against a government takeover of the American health care system.

More extravagantly, on March 11, 2010, Land argued in an open letter:

… President Obama and the liberal congressional leadership are trying to ram through a takeover of nearly one-sixth of the U.S. economy with a new strategy.

Yet the St. Petersburg Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact service concludes in naming the 2010 Lie of the Year:

Readers of PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times’ independent fact-checking website, also chose it as the year’s most significant falsehood by an overwhelming margin. (Their second-place choice was Rep. Michele Bachmann’s claim that Obama was going to spend $200 million a day on a trip to India, a falsity that still sprouts.)

By selecting “government takeover’ as Lie of the Year, PolitiFact is not making a judgment on whether the health care law is good policy.

The phrase is simply not true.

Said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: “The label ‘government takeover” has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in health care as a ‘takeover.’ “

They document the fallacy of the claim point by point, and its origin in a Republican strategy memo, here.

The SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s full-throated voice of a falsehood is not a new. In 2009, Land was likewise owed honorable mention (below Sarah Palin} for the PolitiFact Lie of the Year award trophy for elevating fictitious “death panels” to a topic of frenzied national debate.

Indeed, Land promoted both the falsehood that health reform involves eugenics programs, like those instituted in Nazi Germany, and the “death panels” myth which is part of those partly retracted claims.

Like Fox News, ERLC so often fosters misinformation that relying upon them has meant being misled on matters of historic significance.

Addendum:

Bold Faith Type offers a few other examples of Religious Right promotion of the falsehood:

  • The Family Research Council held a webcast called “Government Takeover of Healthcare: Counting the Cost.”
  • The Susan B. Anthony List took out radio ads alleging that Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) “cast the deciding vote to allow the government takeover of health care.”
  • FRCAction PAC ran campaign ads accusing numerous Democrats of supporting “big government” that is “taking over our health care.”

December 17, 2010 Posted by | Churches, Religion, SBC | , , , | 6 Comments

The Southern Baptist Richard Land/Wiley Drake anti-mosque axis?

Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) chief Richard Land predicted Park51 will never be built while former SBC Second Vice President Wiley Drake was speaking in futile opposition to the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley (Calif.) mosque.

In an interview with the American Family Association’s oddly filtered One News Now, Land is quoted as having said:

“I guarantee you that mosque will not be built two blocks from Ground Zero, and I’ll tell you why — the construction unions will refuse to build it,” he suggests. “And if the construction unions don’t build it, it won’t get built. The hard hats will picket it, and the unions will not cross that picket line. They lost too many of their own on 9/11.”

Meanwhile, Jeff Horseman of The Press-Enterprise reports that the Temecula Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve plans to build a mosque after a a 5 ½-hour public hearing in which Drake rose to speak:

Mosque critic Wiley Drake said Sept. 11 stemmed from the activity of mosques. And John Trautman said Muslims “are not only our enemy but pagans. Why would we want them in our backyard?”

Drake and others of similar view provoked Planning Commissioner John Telesion to say:

I’ve got holes in my tongue from biting it from some of the things I heard. Ignorance of the facts breeds fear, fear breeds hatred and I hope that’s an anomaly.

Of course Land is well-known for having pushed PolitiFact Lie of the Year Award winner Sarah Palin’s vice presidential candidacy toward John McCain. And in doing so Land helped crush McCain’s presidential hopes.

While Drake is probably best-known for his campaign of “imprecatory prayer” directed at still-alive-and-well President Obama.

From those two, mosques and community centers are safe.

The SBC’s reputation, maybe not so much.

December 2, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , | 2 Comments

The worthwhile data would upend Richard Land’s logic

Accusing “the media” of “conflating figures” to justify repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Southern Baptist Convention ethics czar Richard Land responds with some truly dubious numbers:

Meanwhile, a survey commissioned and just released jointly by the Center for Security Policy and the Family Research Council shows that 63 percent of active duty and retired military families oppose allowing open homosexuals in the military ranks.

The survey Land cited questioned a group which is not representative of the active duty military — 70.58 percent of those questioned were over 50. Whereas 70 percent of the troops are under age 30. The age difference is fundamentally why the Land-recommended survey produced a negative outcome. As David Wood explained:

Tuesday’s Pentagon report [revealed] that things have changed in the ranks over the past two decades: today, the vast majority of troops (70 percent under age 30) either favor repeal of the law banning open gays from military service, or don’t care one way or another.

Or as the New York Daily News’ Michael Sheridan and Richard Sisk put it:

[Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] and [Defense Secretary Bill] Gates spoke at a Pentagon briefing on a massive survey of active duty troops that showed 70% believe a repeal of DADT would have either a positive effect or no effect on their ability to complete missions.

The study is based upon answers provided by nearly 115,000 troops, along with 44,200 military spouses. The study group also visited various military bases and held town hall-style meetings with service members.

If the worthwhile data tends to invert Land’s logic, you may wish to invert his recommendation and call your U.S. Senator to lobby for repeal of DADT.

December 1, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , | 2 Comments

What do you think of your brown-eyed girl now, Mr. Land?

Southern Baptist Convention public policy chief Richard Land pushed Sarah Palin for vice president and:

This fundamental failure to grasp basic facts may help explain Nate Silver’s conclusion that Palin has little support among college-educated and wealthy Republican.

[H/T Oliver Willis]

November 25, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , | 1 Comment

No majority for repeal of health reform

His boss, Richard Land, misled the way. So it’s understandable that Doug Carlson of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Commission tried to extract a referendum on health reform from last week’s mid-term elections:

Aspects of health care reform faced a referendum as well. Citizens in three states—Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado—had opportunity to express their feelings on the health care law rammed through Congress. Arizona and Oklahoma each supported an exemption from the mandate that almost everyone purchase health insurance or else face a fine. A similar initiative lost in a divided vote in Colorado. Nationwide, the number of people upset over Obamacare has not budged. Exit polling by Rasmussen shows that 59 percent of voters favor its repeal.

It isn’t that simple, as this week’s Kaiser Family Foundation poll made clear. There is a majority for repeal or alteration of one aspect of the health reform legislation — the requirement that all Americans have health insurance or pay a fine — but overwhelming support for the remainder of the legislation.

Kaiser Health poll answers regarding whether to keep or repeal specific provisions

Only 24% of those polled supported outright repeal of the law. The conundrum, more specifically:

Looking ahead, Americans remain divided about what lawmakers should do, with 21 percent of the public favoring expansion of the health reform law, 19 percent wanting to leave it as is, a quarter wanting to repeal parts of the law, and 24 percent wanting the entire law repealed.

Given the rising number of Americans, middle class and poor, who are without health insurance, the absence of a majority for outright repeal of the reform legislation is no surprise.

November 11, 2010 Posted by | Law, Medical Care, Politics, Religion, SBC | , , , , , | Comments Off

The cost in lives of Richard Land’s health reform repeal

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land stumbled over the heels of the exit polls to argue without foundation that in the mid-term elections, “American voters” demanded the Republicans “repeal ObamaCare.”

Land is wrong, as Dan at Bold Faith Type explained:

Edison Research’s exit polls – which are used by the Associated Press, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox News – show that a minority of midterm voters (48%) wanted to repeal health care reform, with 31% wanting it to do more and 16% wanting to leave it as is. Furthermore, voters who turned out on Tuesday were more conservative than the country at large. Taking a wider view, a Gallup poll that was in the field last weekend showed that less than ¼ of Americans (23%) think repealing health care should be Congress’s top priority after the election.

Inattentive to the polling data, Land appeared to be instead parroting the message of right-wing strategist Richard Viguerie. Both said the voters had decided “to give the Republicans one more chance” to cut the size of government, although the polling data shows that Americans’ overarching concern is the economy.

Centers for Disease Control analysis suggests that any further health reform action should take the form of an expansion of benefits. Not repeal. As Reuters reported:

Nearly 59 million Americans went without health insurance coverage for at least part of 2010, many of them with conditions or diseases that needed treatment, federal health officials said on Tuesday.

hey said 4 million more Americans went without insurance in the first part of 2010 than during the same time in 2008.

“Both adults and kids lost private coverage over the past decade,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a news briefing.

The findings have implications for U.S. healthcare reform efforts. A bill passed in March promises to get health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans who currently lack coverage.

Lack of health insurance kills at a rate of about one American every 12 minutes, Harvard Medical School researchers found.

How many would Southern Baptists like to see sacrificed on the altar of the Land/Viguerie political goals?

November 10, 2010 Posted by | Health, Medical Care, SBC | , , , | 1 Comment

Southern Baptist Sharron Angle (& others)

Southern Baptist Sharron Angle misjudged the electorate in Nevada, and lost.

Amanda Marcotte makes a coherent argument that Angle’s Mama Grizzly racism is to some conservatives an unbearable contradiction of her femininity. A deal breaker:

This contradiction exposed why it’s so critical to the fundamentalist worldview that women stay at home and abandon ambition. In this world, women are supposed to be the light, the caretakers, the homemakers, those who smooth feathers and wipe brows. Aggression, meanness, ambition, and even lustiness are considered more masculine traits, even by the public at large. As Dave Weigel reports, the Republicans are beginning to feel that Sharron Angle, at least, spent too much time in the public eye. The longer the public stares at a Mama Grizzly, the more painful the contradiction between her ideals of femininity and her actual behavior.

Mark Silk makes the only slightly related argument that Angle and Christine O’Donnell would have done better if neither had been so much the culture warrior:

I would submit that Angle and O’Donnell lost not because of radical Tea Partyism but because they smelled too much of the unwanted social conservatism of yesteryear.

Who represents that social conservatism better, or better underlines the clarity of other analysts, than Angle’s fellow Southern Baptist, SBC ethics czar Richard Land? His post-election analysis was first an echo of aging rightist Richard Viguerie (one more chance for the Republicans). Then, almost as though we held national referenda in this country, Land asserted a rejection of “Obamacare,” a repudiation of judicial decisions with which he disagrees, a rejection of same-sex marriage and so on.

More about which, later.

November 5, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC, Women | , , , , | Comments Off

Religion Research finds majority support for health reform

The Public Religion Research Institute’s biennial American Values Survey reported this week that “a(54%) of voters say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported health care reform.”

That’s a contradiction of of Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission chief Richard Land’s prediction in March that those who voted for health reform would be driven from office in a November electoral Battle of Midway.

There is still a Battle of the Pacific metaphor to abuse. Running hard against health reform may be a kamikaze strategy, Richard.

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Health, Politics, SBC | , , | 1 Comment

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