Zimmerman was “wrong,” says Southern Baptist Convention official

In sharp contrast to remarks made by his predecessor a year ago about the Trayvon Martin case, the new head … Continued

In sharp contrast to remarks made by his predecessor a year ago about the Trayvon Martin case, the new head of the politics and policy office for the Southern Baptist Convention said Tuesday that Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was wrong and that there are “systemic” racial injustices in the U.S. legal system.

“Regardless of what Trayvon Martin was doing or not doing that night, you have someone who was taking upon himself some sort of vigilante justice, even by getting out of the car. Regardless of what the legal verdict was, this was wrong,” said Russell Moore, 41, who took over this spring from Richard Land as the public face of the Convention, the country’s largest Protestant denomination. “And when you add this to the larger context of racial profiling and a legal system that does seem to have systemic injustices as it relates to African-Americans with arrests and sentencing, I think that makes for a huge crisis.”

A year ago Land was strongly criticized by fellow Southern Baptist leaders after saying President Obama was “trying to gin up the black vote” by empathizing with the Martin family. Land said African-American activists who questioned the shooting “need the Trayvon Martins to continue perpetuating their central myth — America is a racist and an evil nation.”

Land was reprimanded by the Convention and retired a few months later after a quarter century as head of the Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission — Southern Baptism’s most high-profile post.

The Southern Baptist Convention, created in the 1800s in defense of slavery and segregated into the 1960s, recently elected an African-American president. About 1 million of the Convention’s 16 million members are African-American.

“Most white evangelicals, white Americans, are seeing [the Martin case] microscopically, in terms of this verdict, and most African-Americans are seeing it macroscopically. It’s Trayvon Martin, it’s Emmitt Till, it’s Medger Evers, it’s my son, my neighbor’s son, my situation that I had,” Moore said. “Most white Americans say we don’t know what happened that night and they are missing the point.”

Land was one of the Southern Baptist leaders who made possible a 1995 apology to African Americans for the denomination’s historic defense of slavery.

  • Mathew25

    As a 76 year old man who went to college in the south and witnessed the gross injustices of racial surpression I must say your observations are both refreshing and welcomed. I hope you survive this crusade. I thank you for your effort.

  • amelia45

    As a Southern white woman, only a few years younger, I thank you Mathew25. I agree entirely with your comment – this is, indeed, refreshing and welcomed. It is also unexpected. Such clarity and sanity is what we need from religious leadership.

  • mj01323

    It would be helpful for you to explain what it is you witnessed. From your comment it sounds like you are describing what you saw in the late 50s and early 60s. I can imagine what you are talking about, but it would help if you were more specific and descriptive. Plus when you refer to the “south”, I have no idea if you are referring to northern Virginia, central Florida, west Texas, or somewhere else.

Read More Articles

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

shutterstock_134310734
Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

concert
Why I Want to Be Culturally Evangelical

I’ve lost my faith. Do I have to lose my heritage, too?

shutterstock_37148347
What Is a Saint?

How the diversity of saintly lives reveals multiple paths toward God.

987_00
An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.