Southern Religion

Counterfactual Richard Land Un-Mosqued

The head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission doesn’t let the facts confuse his opposition to the Park51 Islamic center.

Richard Land made his lack of due concern for the facts clear in a recent interview with Ethics Daily. Brian Kaylor wrote:

Land began an interview with by quickly asserting that the site stands too close to Ground Zero and therefore is inappropriate for housing a mosque. Land argued the site is “at best two blocks away, depends on how you calculate it.” He proposed that moving it “four or five blocks” would make the site acceptable.

In reality, the proposed center would sit more than two blocks from the closest corner of the 16-acre World Trade Center complex that includes many buildings that survived the attack nearly nine years ago. The center actually would be about six blocks from the closest of the two main towers hit by airplanes. Such distance from the towers fits with Land’s desired distance, but he remains opposed to the site.

When Land complained during the interview that the site was within eyesight of Ground Zero, it was pointed out to him that there were actually tall buildings that prevented the site from being seen from Ground Zero. Yet, he still maintained that the site was too close.

Later on the radio program “Interfaith Voices,” Land took a different position that was more expansively confused:

There shouldn’t be one [a mosque] within, uh, eyeshot or earshot. And if it weren’t for the interference of buildings, this would be within the, what’s being proposed would be within eyesight.


Whatever he meant in that case, counterfactual positions aren’t new to Richard Land. He has also been persistently counterfactual on health reform. Indeed, he deserved an honorable mention for Sarah Palin’s PolitiFact Lie of the Year Award, which she received for elevating the fictitious “death panels” to a topic of frenzied national debate. Nor should it be forgotten that his false health reform/Holocaust comparisons were elevated to the level of international scandal.

Why expect a new and different Richard Land to step forward for Park51?


September 14, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | , , , , | 2 Comments

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 | | 3 Comments

SBC’s Richard Land et al. unhappy about gay immigration partners

Unsurprisingly certain evangelicals reject gay partners in immigration bill.

Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission czar Richard Land joined Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver and at best a handful of other Religious Right leaders in signing a statement of opposition to the proposal by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Although the National Evangelical Association, “which [Yahoo News reports] includes members from 40 evangelical denominations,” seeks to rally support for immigration reform.

You may struggle to make heads or tails of the Baptist Press story on Richard’s out-Land-ish stunt here. Or visit Right Wing Watch’s review of the little band of others attempt to kidnap the larger group’s spotlight here.

June 8, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , | Comments Off on SBC’s Richard Land et al. unhappy about gay immigration partners

Oh no, Rubio! From outRichardLandish to uh-oh?

Promoted by SBC ethics czar Richard Land as a credible 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mario Rubio is under Internal Revenue Service investigation.

The Miami Herald reports that Rubio is one of three former Florida Republican Party credit card holders being scrutinized for their alleged use of party credit cards to pay personal expenses.

Whether a full-fledged criminal investigation is merited has not been decided, and Rubio adviser Todd Harris told the Miami Herland, “There is absolutely nothing to this.”

The principal effect, as Talking Points Memo suggests, is likely to be on the dynamics of Rubio’s fight with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for the Republican senatorial nomination, without which Rubio becomes another Land loser.

April 22, 2010 Posted by | Politics, SBC | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is Rubio for president 2012 another outLandish prediction?

After making a scandal of himself in opposition to health reform, Southern Baptist Convention ethics czar Richard Land has in an interview with Politico promoted former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio as a credible 2012 Republican presidential nominee who has “more experience than Obama had.”

The gimlet-eyed journalists at PolitiFact poured that outLandish claim through their fact-filter and emerged with a “barely true.” Even that conclusion is a stretch. It assumes, for example, Rubio is elected to the U.S. Senate and serves two years — although he has yet to win the Aug. 24 Fla. Republican primary.

Sarah Palin benefitted from Land’s dubious blessings. In 2008 he sang her praises as a potential vice presidential nominee in an interview with Brian Goldsmith of CBS, mentioning Southern Baptist Mike Huckabee only as an afterthought.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain chose Palin as his vice presidential nominee and after a brief popularity bubble, she helped sink his candidacy. Then, Palin the public servant went home to abandon the governorship of Alaska.

Palin’s former prospective son-in-law Levi Johnson said at the time that she left in pursuit of cash. The dollar figures have since born Johnson out. Matthew Mosk of ABC News reported:

Since leaving office at the end of July 2009, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee has brought in at least 100 times her old salary – a haul now estimated at more than $12 million — through television and book deals and a heavy schedule of speaking appearances worth five and six figures.

Along the way health reform in which Land and Palin both invested so much vilifying energy and who both contributed to the “death panels” howler which copped a “lie of the year” award, passed.

When Land comes to anoint you, candidate Rubio, if you’re really interested in public service, then for heaven’s sake outrun him.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Conservative intellectual honesty’s price: Continued

David Frum, who lost his job at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) after his “Waterlooanalysis, clarifies the report that he said AEI scholars were being muzzled if they agreed too much with Obamacare. Frum wrote:

Did AEI muzzle healthcare scholars? I fear that in reproducing in print a private conversation from some months ago, Bruce Bartlett made a transmission error. I did not report as fact that scholars were laboring under any restrictions. What I did say was that AEI was punching way below its weight in the healthcare debate. I wondered, not alleged, wondered, whether AEI scholars were constrained by fear of saying something that might get them into trouble. To repeat: this was something I asked many months ago in private conversation, not something I allege today in public debate.

Well and obliquely said.

Bruce Bartlett then issued his correction. With elaboration. Summary: There’s a compelling “circumstantial case” for the muzzling, and AEI has demeaned itself by letting Frum go.

March 30, 2010 Posted by | Health, Medical Care, SBC | , , | 1 Comment

Conservative intellectual honesty’s price: Part II

Just as David Frum was fired for his “Waterlooanalysis of the Republican health reform loss, Bruce Bartlett was fired by National Center for Policy Analysis in 2005 when he shared with them the manuscript of his book, “The Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.”

Bartlett reflected Thursday on the scope of the scope of the intellectual dishonesty involved in Frum’s dismissal.

The takeaway:

Since, he is no longer affiliated with AEI, I feel free to say publicly something he told me in private a few months ago. He asked if I had noticed any comments by AEI “scholars” on the subject of health care reform. I said no and he said that was because they had been ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do.

It saddened me to hear this. I have always hoped that my experience was unique. But now I see that I was just the first to suffer from a closing of the conservative mind. Rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed, and the conservative brain will slowly shrivel into dementia, if it hasn’t already.

Indeed, some Religious Right minds already have episodes of doleful echolalia.

March 26, 2010 Posted by | Politics, SBC | , , | Comments Off on Conservative intellectual honesty’s price: Part II

Conservative intellectual honesty’s sometime price

Sometimes, politics is a religion, and heretics are punished, even when they’re right. Former Bush speech writer David Frum laid out in a few words the cause and effect of the Republican health reform loss, and three days afterward, “was forced out of his job at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday.”

March 25, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , | 1 Comment

Richard Land echoed (or the echo)?

The Christian Coalition issued a statement yesterday which compared “Sunday, March 21, 2010,” when health reform was adopted, to “a very infamous day full of betrayal and deceit” like Japan’s “sneak attack on America at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.” And so on.

Did they steal that image from Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission chief Richard land? Who after all went on from his Pearl Harbor to forecast an electoral Battle of Midway (casting the Democrats in the role of the Japanese Imperial Navy), whereas the Christian Coalition took another path.

Coordinate it with him?

Or was the similarly ineloquent lack appropriate restraint merely perchance?

March 24, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , | 1 Comment

Waterloo, not Pearl Harbor

Debated for a year, health reform has in the mind of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission chief somehow become an aircraft carrier-based surprise attack:

Liberals across America are rejoicing today over their ‘historic’ victory. My message to them is, ‘Enjoy it while you can.’ This was a Pyrrhic victory of epic proportions. The Japanese pilots who bombed Pearl Harbor won a ‘historic’ victory as well. Their celebrations were cut short six months later when most of them were killed at the Battle of Midway.

Richard Land’s curious view of World War II also came up in September, when he misappropriated Holocaust images to assault Obamacare. You may recall that he attracted attention as far away as Jerusalem with that, and was was driven to apologize at the time.

Land has a penchant for the counterfactual, and was joined in that on occasion this week by Baptist Press, which for example wrote:

The House of Representatives barely passed a controversial health-care bill Sunday, deeply disappointing pro-life Americans who hoped a small group of Democrats would block legislation they say will permit federal funding of abortion and likely increase the rate of the procedure.

Yet both Catholic and protestant pro-life Americans were famously divided on the issue, with pro-life/faith leaders applauding the Senate bill as pro-life. Thus some pro-life Americans were disappointed by the 219-212 House approval of health reform. While at the same time, some pro-life Americans celebrated passage.

Land’s radical denialism helped create the circumstances he seeks, with more of the same failed strategy, to undo. Former Bush speech writer David Frum has both commented on the magnitude of the defeat and explained that the legislation is effectively immune to repeal:

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.

As for the voter outrage about which Land speculates, it isn’t there except perhaps in a radical minority, and isn’t likely to emerge. As Nate Silver accurately observes today, “history suggests that endeavors of this nature (Medicare, Social Security, Romneycare) generally become popular and are appreciated by the large majority of voters once they become law.”

March 23, 2010 Posted by | Health, Politics, SBC | , , | 3 Comments