Although it may seem odd to list a religious denomination among the nation’s top Religious Right groups, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has earned the distinction. The leadership of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination has been firmly aligned with the Religious Right for nearly three decades. SBC agencies often take public policy positions identical to that of major Religious Right organizations and join with them in various coalition efforts and legal briefs at the Supreme Court.
The SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission – a fancy name for a lobbying office – is headed by Richard Land, who openly participates in Republican Party politics.
Land does not even pretend to be non-partisan. In 1998, he told The New York Times that the Religious Right was tired of being taken for granted by the GOP. “The go-along, get-along strategy is dead,” Land said. “No more engagement. We want a wedding ring, we want a ceremony, we want a consummation of the marriage.”
During the 2008 primary season, Land hyped the candidacy of Fred Thompson, frequently lauding him in the media. He compared U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton to Darth Vader and a witch (saying if she failed to be president, she would want to park her broom outside the Supreme Court for life). He has called George W. Bush “the greatest president of my lifetime.” Land claims he recommended that John McCain put evangelical Christian Sarah Palin on the ticket.
Since the election, Land has been harshly critical of President Barack Obama, going so far as to compare his heath-care reform efforts to Nazi genocide.
In a 1997 sermon, Land insisted he does not favor theocracy – he just believes a majority should be able to impose its religious will on others.
“It’s our work to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Land said. “But when we preach that Gospel, and God has blessed it and people’s hearts and minds have been changed, then they have the right as citizens to come forth in the public arena and say, ‘This is wrong, and we want it stopped.’ For example, abortion is the killing of innocent children, and we want laws to change it. When we convince a majority of Americans that we are right, that’s not called a theocracy, that’s called the democratic process.”
Land Quote: “We must confront those trying to keep us from the public square. [America] was founded by Christian men who believed Christians should use their faith to make public policy.” (Family Impact Summit, Tampa, Fla., September 2007)