Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Has the SBC Ethics Committee Endorsed a Presidential Candidate?

I'm perplexed.

On one hand, the SBC Ethic's Committee Chair, Richard Land, told the Texas Baptist Convention that he won't endorse candidates. His exact words were, "I don’t. I won’t.” Instead, he said he wanted a well-informed electorate.

Sounds good. But how has it been playing out? After a bit of a review, it looks like Land has endorsed Fred Thompson. Let's consider the following from Rob Boston on his Americans United blog:

* In April, Land told The Hill, a Washington, D.C., newspaper, “Fred Thompson reminds me of a Southern-fried Reagan. To see Fred work a crowd must be what it was like to watch Rembrandt paint.” Land went on to say that he would not support former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich, partly over their marital histories. He excused Thompson’s divorce, saying the circumstances matter and noting that Thompson’s first marriage was an amicable split that ended years ago.

* Not long after that, the Politico newspaper reported that Land introduced Thompson during a meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy in Virginia. Thompson went on to deliver a speech critical of church-state separation.

* Land rushed to Thompson’s defense after James Dobson of Focus on the Family criticized the former senator’s stand on the Federal Marriage Amendment and his failure to attend church regularly. Land told David Brody, a reporter and blogger at TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, “I’ve received phone calls and e-mails from Southern Baptists about Sen. Thompson. They are all furious at Dr. Dobson. They just feel that, first of all, there was a mischaracterizing of his positions. Do I wish that he supported the marriage protection amendment? Of course I do. To say that he is for 50 different views of marriage in 50 different states is a gross mischaracterization of his position. Secondly, do I wish that he attended church every Sunday? As a Baptist pastor, of course I do. But does that make him a person of unbelief? That’s harsh and unwarranted.”

* On July 12, 2007, Land told Brody, “My assessment is that at this moment in time it is Fred Thompson’s race to lose. It may be a convergence of the right man, in the right place and at the right time. I have never seen anything like this grassroots swell for Thompson. I’m not speaking for Southern Baptists but I do believe I have my hand on the pulse of Southern Baptists and I think I know where the consensus is.” Brody later wrote of Land’s “fascination with Thompson.”

* Land told the far-right evangelical magazine World that Thompson will win because he offers “red meat” to socially conservative evangelicals.

* A pro-Thompson Web site, Blogs for Fred Thompson, notes at least two examples of Land pushing Thompson on right-wing radio shows.

Do your own Google Search using the names "Fred Thompson" & "Richard Land." Draw your own conclusions as to whether or not Land endorses any candidate.

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