Burch: Land’s lost at sea again

Friday, April 6, 2012 at 12:58am
By Michael R. Burch

Richard Land is at sea again, this time headlining the front page of the Tennessean after calling black religious leaders “race hustlers” and other nasty, provocative names on his “Richard Land Live!” radio show.

Land is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. But as an ethicist, he leaves a lot to be desired, as does his church, which remains trapped in the dungeons of Dark Age bigotry and intolerance.

In 1845 the Southern Baptist Church broke away from northern Baptist churches when they refused to allow slave owners to become missionaries. So the raison d'etre and a founding principle of the SBC was the right of church members to not only practice racism but also to own slaves. This surely sprang from a bizarre belief that the entire Bible is the “infallible” word of God. As Jefferson Davis once pointed out to abolitionists, slavery “was established by decree of Almighty God ... it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation.”

If the Bible is the infallible word of God, then God must be a bigot, because the Bible commands the ethnic cleansing, genocide and enslavement of people on racial/ethnic grounds. But the writers of the Bible could never agree about what to do with the virgin girls. Some of them said that everyone captured during orgies of ethnic cleansing should be slaughtered; others said God and Moses wanted them to keep the virgin girls alive as slaves. How can such evil confusion be “infallible”?

Getting back to Richard Land, what sort of “ethicist” can still maintain in the 21st century that the Bible’s satanic verses are “infallible”? And since such verses are obviously not “infallible,” why do men like Land continue to use the Bible to persuade other people to deny fully equal rights to women and homosexuals? Why, for instance, can men expect their health insurance companies to pay for Viagra, but women cannot expect their insurance companies to pay for contraceptives?

Now the SBC is championing the Roman Catholic Church’s quest to deny large numbers of American women access to contraceptives, on the grounds of “religious freedom.” But the SBC isn’t consistent on matters of ethics, because it doesn’t support Mormons who believe polygamy is the “will of God.” It seems “religious freedom” only applies when it suits the SBC’s purposes. Is that “ethical”?

And perhaps worst of all, the SBC continues to threaten the innocent children in its churches’ pews with an “eternal hell” if they don’t believe in a bigoted, intolerant God who favors Jews and Christians over billions of other people.

But curiously and ironically, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, published here in Nashville by the SBC, no longer mentions the word “hell” anywhere in its Old Testament, and barely in New Testament (around 10 verses, with half being duplicate verses in the parallel gospels of Matthew and Mark). The latest Bible published by the Roman Catholic Church, the NABRE, no longer mentions “hell” at all. So even conservative Bible scholars are now admitting that the Hebrew word “Sheol” and the Greek word “Hades” do not mean “hell,” but the “the grave” or “the abode of all the dead, good and bad.”

Is it “ethical” for men like Land to allow children to be threatened with the prospect of “hell” for themselves and billions of other people, when the God of the Bible and the Hebrew prophets never once mentioned a place called “hell” or any possibility of suffering after death?

How can a man who lacks compassion for children and a sense of justice claim to be an expert on ethics? Richard Land remains lost at sea, the captain of a ship without a rudder, vainly perusing charts that are sadly out of date and were never very accurate to begin with.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

65 Comments on this post:

By: Captain Nemo on 4/6/12 at 3:58

Hello again. I see by his 3:00 post the conversation is still over yogi’s head.

By: govskeptic on 4/7/12 at 9:24

It is rather apparent the Author wishes to join the President's existing list
of those rendering moral guidance: First there's the Protestant view from
the right Rev. Wright, for the Catholic view and guidance he calls on
St. Sabina Parish's Father Michael Pleger, and for the Muslim view he
calls on childhood teachings along with the most reverend Louis Farrakhan..
and for Black Nationalism there's Rev. Al. Sharpton who helps with the
Religion of Anger! All Honorable attempts to help with "The Change"!

By: yogiman on 4/7/12 at 11:19

And if he succeeds in his re-usurpation this year, the change has been made.

Be prepared!

By: govskeptic on 4/7/12 at 3:52

It is rather apparent the Author wishes to join the President's existing list
of those rendering moral guidance: First there's the Protestant view from
the right Rev. Wright, for the Catholic view and guidance he calls on
St. Sabina Parish's Father Michael Pleger, and for the Muslim view he
calls on childhood teachings along with the most reverend Louis Farrakhan..
and for Black Nationalism there's Rev. Al. Sharpton who helps with the
Religion of Anger! All Honorable attempts to help with "The Change"!

By: yogiman on 4/8/12 at 7:27

Happy Easter, everyone.

By: Loner on 4/8/12 at 5:45

I missed this fine Mike Burch missive on Friday. I'll comment now.

Happy Easter!

I do not know this Reverend Land gentleman....but I do not generally care much for professional zealots of any stripe, especially the holymen.

And of the holymen - the Sky Pilots of the Air Waves - are especially tempting targets, for verbal sparring and debate.

As I have said before, for those who seek a dogma-free faith community - in a place where folks believe in a personal path to spiritual growth - where people walk the walk of tolerance - then I suggest checking out your local UU church.

In Nashville, I assume that would be this one:

http://www.firstuunashville.org/

I have never been to that church and I do not know a soul there...but I do have faith that, if I ever visit Nashville again, and if I wanted to quickly find like-minded people, I would check that place out....tell 'em that Loner sent you.

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