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January 25, 2011

Richard Land Leaves Interfaith Coalition on Mosques

Richard Land withdrew from a group of religious leaders who support the right of Muslims to build mosques in the United States. Land, who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, joined the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques (ICOM) as a charter member. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) spearheaded the ICM’s creation in response to increasing challenges to the construction of mosques and Islamic centers last summer.


Land said he did not quit the ICOM because of a change in his convictions but out of a need to represent the views of the SBC. In a letter to the ADL, Land wrote, “While many Southern Baptists share my deep commitment to religious freedom and the right of Muslims to have places of worship, they also feel that a Southern Baptist denominational leader filing suit to allow individual mosques to be built is 'a bridge too far.'”

Land said that his involvement with ICOM was not a promotion of Islam, but he said this was the perception of many in the convention.

“Southern Baptists have the oft-expressed right to form their own perceptions as well as the right to expect their denominational servant to be cognizant of them and to respect them,” Land said in a statement. “I serve Southern Baptists.”

The departure of Land comes days after the coalition sent a letter supporting the right of a Muslim group to build a mosque in Temecula, California. The mosque received approval from the Temecula City Council in December, but there is a hearing Tuesday night on an appeal to overturn the council decision. The ICOM stated that reversing the decision would be a violation of federal law. Land is listed as a member of the ICOM in the letter.

Concerned American Citizens filed the appeal, viewing the mosque as a cover for the promotion of Shariah Law. The mosque in question will be built on land adjacent to Calvary Baptist Church (not associated with the SBC). The church opposes the building of the mosque for both practical reasons, such as land use, but also because it, too, believes Islam promotes Shariah law and the destruction of religious liberty.

"The religious philosophy of Islam is directly contradictory and confrontational to the Christian faith we espouse. Putting a mosque within feet of a Baptist church exacerbates those differences,” wrote Calvary Baptist pastor William Rench in a letter to the city council supporting the appeal.

The IOCM support for the Temecula mosque is its first since it supported the right of a Muslim group to build an Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Land also publicly supported the right of the mosque in Murfreesboro to be built.

ADL National Director Abraham Foxman released a statement to the Associated Press on Land's decision, saying, "We respect Richard Land. We respect his decision. We wish it were otherwise."

Buster Wilson of the American Family Association (AFA) criticized Land for his support of the mosque and his membership in the IOCM.

“[Land] has joined a group is now filing court briefs to HELP Muslims get mosques built in this country. Fight for their RIGHT, but don’t help them advance a 'gospel' that is no gospel at all and will send people to hell,” Wilson wrote on AFA's blog.

The ERLC responded within hours of Wilson's criticism. It emphasized that Land opposed the building of an Islamic center near the site of the World Trade Center attack (as did the ADL) but that he supports religious freedom of Muslims to build mosques in their communities.

“Richard Land defends the right of American Muslims to build their houses of worship (mosques) in places where they live. He is NOT involved in efforts to encourage or aid the building of those mosques. He is only involved in legal efforts to defend American Muslims who are having their legal rights under the First Amendment denied or curtailed by zoning commissions and city councils,” the ERLC said in a statement.


I think I would respect Mr. Land more if he had made this decision out of conviction. As it is, it sounds like he is caving to the desires of his denomination members, whether or not those views are Biblical or not. Not every church wants to institute a Christian theocracy, and I think Mr. Land has missed a good opportunity to challenge his flock on why they think every mosque would want to institute Islamic theocracy.

Being a servant-leader is different from being a servant. Even Paul felt free to call the churches he worked with on their theological and moral blind spots.

I am pretty sure that Land has supported things that are not popular with the SBC before. I agree with Marta, this would have been a good teaching moment and way to ratchet down the rhetoric. Too bad.

Land's response was well-reasoned and justified. Marta, it is important to recognize that Land is not a pastor and thus has no flock. He is a denominational leader, which means he represents many churches--many of whom did not agree with that particular affiliation.

Bad call, Mr. Land. The principles of freedom, so hard-fought by Baptists of old, are now subject to majority votes.

Let us advmire and respect anyone who has the integrity displayed by Land. If we all had the same strength and had used it as well, there would be no abortion horror in this country. God would not be so poorly served by us now. That is my firm conviction and I am aware of the fact that I'll be "disagreed with" as Land is for speaking at all. Shall we continue to criticize each other? Or, shall we try to act like and as Christians? That's your choice and, of course, mine. Let us pray.

Only God knows Mr. Land's true motivation, but I was reminded that I was thankful that Dr. Martin Luther King was not concerned about what others thought, but followed his convictions against great odds. We are to be "salt and light." We can't get away with hiding our light under a bushel, Mr. Land. When we do, we're not much different than those who don't follow Christ.

"If we all had the same strength and had used it as well, there would be no abortion horror in this country".
Interesting how a lot of us have problems with the abortion horror, but almost nobody shares the same feeling about the "war horror". Even more interesting, because Jesus did not say "blessed be the abortion opponents", but "blessed be the peacemakers"!!!!!

Who is ERLC? I searched this website, but nowhere is that group defined???

Dr. Land graduated magna cum laude from Princeton and received his PhD from Oxford. I've always appreciated his willingness to take on the difficult issues and provide a Christian Statesman response. If you want to find well reasoned arguments for a number of difficult issues we face when we venture outside our churches, check out his book "The Divided States of America."

I can't say I agree with every opinion of his but his book will certainly make you think.

If he feels he now needs to resign from the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, at least give him credit for being a charter member and for defending religious freedom even if it wasn't for Christians.

I appreciate Dr Land on two accounts. First, he walked according to his convictions concerning religious freedom. Such is a Baptist Christian. Secondly, he remembers whom he represents and who ultimately signs his paychecks, that is Southern Baptist.

Since neither issues are doctrines of eternity, Land chose the path of the greatest peace. Blessed are the peacemakers...

Perhaps the greatest irony here is that the Baptists were at the forefront of demanding religious liberty in the early 19th century over against the New England Calvinists who saw the election of the "atheist" Thomas Jefferson as an assault on the privileged position of Christianity in America. Baptists overwhelmingly supported the Jeffersonian separation of church and state when their religious liberties were on the line. Now when another religious group is threatened by the same impulses they raise the "Christian" flag.

It's time that we recognize that the strength of the American system of governance is the freedom accorded to all religious groups as a haven against the very kind of religious intolerance the mosque-building opponents represent. Shame on Dr. Land for caving in.

The Mosque problem resides in the basic belief of Islam which is opposed to democracy, freedom and respect to women. We are seeing this play out in England and other areas where Islamic inclaves grow. Gentle at first but militant as they grow. The "freedom of religion" view ignores this severe truth.

Islam doesn't promote democracy or believe in it but does use it to expand their Sharia and Islamic laws. Building adjacent to a Church is what Muslims do to conquer the area. They couldn't build over it or turn it into a moszue in this country as they do in other countries so they build next to it to tell other Muslims that this building, and this area and religion of this area is now Islam. Maybe Land finally figured this out. And why are Christians filing lawsuites and forking over money to help people who have laws that don't allow new churches to be built in their countries and where pastors are burned to death and churches are burned down. Churches in the middle east are used by Muslim men to worship in to the detriment of Christians finding room to worship in their own neighborhood church. And Muslims have no more right to build than anybody else who has to fullfil the local building laws, etc. In our area, naked dancing girls nightclubs are not allowed near a church or in a housing area either. Sharia Law says that Muslims don't follow the local laws but Sharia law. It will be demanded in time by this Mosque, count on it. Why don't these Christians help Christians in Islam countries by filing lawsuits to get them freedoms and allow them to build churches or even say openly they are Christians. Who are they really working for.

Let Christians worship openly and spread the Gospel in Islamic countries without being persecuted then we can talk about religious tolerance.

It is a shamer that Land is not making a bigger issue out of fairness. There are no churches allowed in several Muslim countries and in many others ythey are persecuted. He should tell the Muslims who want to build peace bridges with Americans to rebuild the thousands of Churches they have destroyed over the years.

the "path of greatest peace" is directed by who signs one's paycheck? interesting position. as is the default go-to stance that abortion trumps all. we engage in war and kill and are killed by the tens of thousands. 26,000 children under the age of five die each day from preventable disease. over one sixth of our world lives in extreme poverty. i could on and on. but to the point at hand: a principle is either right or wrong. if we christians do not honor truth, no one will.

Everything I hear about the Islamic religion from former
Muslims who were highly educated and even leaders in Islam
is that in all of its branches or manifestation it is a relio-political movement bent on world domination with Sharia Law. Studying their writings, their history, and their present activities of schooling their adherents whould cause one to conclude that they are a subversive organization in the same way that any political movement bent on the overthrow of the United States would be viewed. It's just that our political and religious leaders are either ignorant of the facts, or afraid of stating the facts, or a combination of both. We have never faced such an insidious Trojan Horse before, and we seem impotent to do anything about it.

I wonder how many people who defended Dr Land's decision to join ICOM have bothered to read the qur'an, the hadith of bukhari or the reliance of the traveler? The qur'an is app 400 small easy pages of reading, the hadith of bukhari about 700 pages of very easy reading. Anyone who reads these books, and studies The Holy Bible, has to see islam is pure evil. If you read 1st and 2nd John, you will see by Biblical definition islam is nothing more than the antichrist.

As Christians we are to love the sinner, but hate the sin, to love our Muslim Brothers and Sisters, and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them, but hate the sin that is islam. The SBC should have severed their relationship with Dr Land the minute he joined the ICOM.

Dr. Land is a highly principled Christian and a true statesman.He has always faithfully served the SBC and taken on many tough issues and unpopular stances through the years.If Dr. Land feels that being affiliated with ICOM is contrary to his role as an SBC leader then withdrawing was the right move.In my mind Dr. Land has shown true grit in making this announcement and facing his critics and detractors. I am constantly amazed at how harshly Christians judge our religious leaders.Perhaps we should pray and support their efforts instead of looking for chinks in their armor. God Bless you Dr. Land for your many years of service and for continued success in your ministry.

Democracy is a truly delightful thing. It tells you that you must give a man rights in your country which he does not allow in his country of origin. It compels you to fight and die for the rights of the man in your country who tramples with impunity on those same rights in his country of origin.

In short democracy demands that you give a man in your country the right to undermine the very rights to which your country entitles him. Therefore I believe the saying to be true that "democracy bears within it the seeds of its own demise".

The fact that so many people cannot and/or do not see Islam for the evil that it represents is truly amazing. Islam is not simply another "religious group", nor are the people trying to point this out merely being hysterical.

I am sure, Dr. Land like most patriotic Americans believe in standing up for the rights of all to freely practice their religion, which includes building places of worship. However, when any Christian gives support and comfort to a religion as hostile to Christianity and as dangerous to the ideals of individual rights and personal freedoms as Islam is, assisting that religion is no longer a defence of rights and freedoms, that is capitulation.

These comments show why it was difficult for Land to stay in the coalition, but more why it is important for him and others to continue to fight for the freedom of religion for others. Clearly, most of the commenters here do not believe that freedom of religion means that we need to fight for the freedom of religion for others as well as ourselves. If Christians, especially those from the US want freedom of religion around the world (for Christians to practice) then we have to make sure those within the US are free to practice their religion. This is not a matter of fairness, this is an example to the world.

If Richard Land wanted to maintain his support and affiliation with the ICOM, he had the freedom to do so. It may have necessitated his resignation from his SBC post, but that is his choice to make. His actions to support the right to build mosques (or Mormon Temples, or Jehovah Witnesses places of worship), inherently caries with it an implied support of what is taught in those places.

Think of it in this manner. Should Richard Land, as an SBC leader, join a group to openly support right of Planned Parenthood to build facilities? I hope the resounding answer to that is no because of Planned Parenthoods intention to use the facilities to promote the death of unborn babies. Why then should he join a group that is openly supporting the building of facilities that promotes eternal death of ones soul? Jesus said, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

If Land wants to make a principles statement based upon his convictions, let him resign his SBC leadership position and remain part of the ICOM; however, it seems that his convictions about the ICOM do not override his desire to remain with the SBC.

To varying extents, BOTH Christianity and Islam have always had extremist sects or factions which one may/may not be justified in calling "evil" for one reason or another. For example, the highly controversial Westboro Baptist Church. But does that particular church make all other expressions of Christianity evil? Of course not. In Sierra Leone, West Africa, Christianity has always had far fewer followers than Islam. Yet in the history of that land, never has there ever been any major hostility between the two religions. In fact for centuries, despite its smaller numbers, the influence of Christianity in Sierra Leone on the nation's government, educational system, health care, etc. has actually been much greater than that of Islam, with no apparent resentment from the latter. The horrific rebel war of the '90s over "blood diamonds" in Sierra Leone had nothing whatsoever to do with religion. My point is that calling an ENTIRE religion "evil" is neither helpful for the purposes of Christian evangelism nor for the work of Christian missions around the world.

It interesting to note that Land is struggling with his own belief in religious freedom but the question now arises what does he mean by religious freedom in Baptist concept. Is he no longer a Baptist in this respect? If so what are the Southern Baptists a US baptist sect adhering to some Baptist principles but not all.

We have had mosques and even an Islamic center here in central Indiana for at least 20 years. Shariah law has yet to be passed by the Indiana legislature.

Yes, there is a militant Islam that caused 9/11 and is brutally suppressing many throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. But if our government is given the mechanism to suppress an unpopular faith from expressing itself, such as building a place of worship, evangelicals could have the same mechanism turned on them. Instead, we may find ourselves surprisingly thankful for some of the recent overreaching by secularists to keep religion out of the public square - their efforts will have laid the groundwork for also preventing the implementation of Shariah law in the United States.

Dr. Land's liberal education at Oxford is showing. He fails to appreciate that Islam is a political movement vaniered as a religion. I have lost confidence in his leadership at any level.

If you are in the corner and have no money to move out from that point, you would have to take the personal loans. Because that will aid you for sure. I take collateral loan every time I need and feel myself fine because of that.

Christians are saying okay to help people of a faith that is of satan to erect places of worship? How far have we fallen as far as our understanding of principles are concerned? Have we as Christians become a law unto our own PC ways? Would God have been okay with Israel helping those of other "faiths" around them help erect places of worship?
what have we come to?
Richard Land is led by his intellect fueled by PC a PC slant, NOT Biblical principles. what a sad day to see christians be so daft in their posted responses singing their "praises" of the great one!
I had called him on his talk show when I got a hint while listening of him trying to convey that Islam is a religion of Peace. I challenged him, he responded, and I respectfully interjected and he cut me off yelling at me on his radio show, " Don't you interrupt me. This is my show!" I was stunned. He had blown his top so badly he went to a commercial. And guess what he quoted to prove Islam was not a religion of Peace? He quoted modern Muslim leaders. Yes HE did quote them and statements they made. How does that change what their texts say or what their founder did as a means to become dominant? This all makes sense now. Besides a few weeks later an Iraqi who found Christ from Dallas had led 2 other Iraqis to Christ also. This man spoke of what he thought of Mohammad, that supposed HOLY man! This man was a former Muslim and spoke of the evil he saw Mohammad as founder of islam to be. Land would not want to hear this!
All makes sense now!

P.S. some latter posts I read do question very correctly his involvement ( John Hale,Velma, Adam Shields, etc.)