Southern Religion

Richard Land’s misanalysis of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe

Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a drummer in the right-wing parade of blame for the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe. Blame is directed at “the environmental movement” and the Obama administration, while British Petroleum is treated gently.

Brian Kaylor, contributing editor at Ethics Daily, writes:

Richard Land, head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, argued during the June 5 broadcast of “Richard Land Live!” that oil giant BP is only partially to blame for the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and even defended BP’s handling of the disaster.

Land blamed “the environmental movement” for why drilling was being done in the deepwater site of the BP oil rig. He argued that “environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all of the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production.” He offered no condemnation of BP for deciding to drill there.

Two days after Land’s defense of BP and aspersions on others, Pro Publica revealed that Land had it wrong. BP was the author the catastrophe:

A series of internal investigations over the past decade warned senior BP managers that the company repeatedly disregarded safety and environmental rules and risked a serious accident if it did not change its ways.

The confidential inquiries, which have not previously been made public, focused on a rash of problems at BP’s Alaska oil-drilling unit that undermined the company’s publicly proclaimed commitment to safe operations. They described instances in which management flouted safety by neglecting aging equipment, pressured or harassed employees not to report problems, and cut short or delayed inspections in order to reduce production costs. Executives were not held accountable for the failures, and some were promoted despite them.

Similar themes about BP operations elsewhere were sounded in interviews with former employees, in lawsuits and little-noticed state inquiries, and in e-mails obtained by ProPublica. Taken together, these documents portray a company that systemically ignored its own safety policies across its North American operations – from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico to California and Texas.

Don’t expect Land to retract. His record of constructive revision is a blighted one, distinguished in part by an unapology for misapplication of Holocaust imagery which attracted attention as far away as Israel.


June 12, 2010 - Posted by | SBC |


  1. Why Richard Land is allowed to drag the Southern Baptist denomination down one side or the other of non-religious subjects is a mystery.

    Comment by jack | June 15, 2010

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