"I know I represent the views of overwhelming numbers of Southern Baptists." So said Richard Land today as he dismissed a meeting of moderate Baptists in Atlanta at which leaders of Baptist groups representing some 20 million Baptists were present.
What is Land's list of "Baptist views?" He has consistently insisted on a handful of necessary beliefs: pro-life (in Land's world, "pro-life" actually means "anti-abortion"), pro-Israel, non-gay marriage, pro-Bush and pro-Iraq War. That's it folks; that's what is required to be a Southern Baptist, according to Richard Land, head of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and self-appointed spokesperson for all Southern Baptists.
Never mind that prior to the 1960s, Southern Baptists did not pretend to take definitive stances on the first three of Land's defining issues. In fact, one would have been hard-pressed to find any Southern Baptist who was pro-Israel as Land defines it (Christian Zionism did not develop until the 1970s), most Baptists were not discussing abortion (and most that were discussing it were not entirely opposed), and gay marriage was a non-issue. And it is doubtful that any Southern Baptist prior to this decade would have voiced unwavering support for a president who repeatedly lied to start a war (and in order to continue the utter fiasco that the war has become) and considers the Constitution of the United States "nothing more than a *^&$%&$* piece of paper!"
In short, by Richard Land's definition, true Southern Baptists did not even exist until sometime after the 1960s!
But what of the present, an era in which Land and his fundamentalist cronies claim to be leading Southern Baptists around by the nose? In my current church, whose members financially support both the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Southern Baptist Convention, not a single one of the roughly 10 of 500 or so members who actually know who Richard Land is ... consider Land as representative of their views. As a matter of fact, very few Southern Baptists (outside of preachers) know who the man is, and although quite a few Southern Baptists might agree with the man on some of his views, few turn to Land for guidance on what to believe, and many would take offense that he pretends to speak on their behalf.
And in Baptist circles other than (some) Southern Baptists and other fundamentalist Baptists, Land's priestly pretensions are widely recognized as the shrill rantings of a blowhard.
So, Richard Land, just what are you smoking? It seems you are rather high on the fumes coming from the tailpipe of your own self-importance ... and inhaling deeply.