When someone plagiarizes content that isn't theirs, it's wrong. When that person is a religious leader, who claims the moral high ground on "ethics" while routinely condemning others for their sins, it's worse.
And that person is a religious leader in a denomination with an unfortunate racial history, and he's plagiarized racially charged content, well, that's just adding insult to injury (thanks to reader R.B. for the tip).
Southern Baptist leaders will investigate whether their top ethicist and public policy director plagiarized racially charged remarks about the Trayvon Martin case that many say set back the denomination's efforts on racial reconciliation.
Richard Land, who leads the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention, was accused of lifting remarks for his radio show that accused Democrats and civil rights leaders of exploiting the case of the unarmed Florida teenager who was shot and killed by a volunteer neighborhood watchman.
Even though Land has apologized for both the remarks and not attributing their source, the commission's executive committee said it was obligated "to ensure no stone is left unturned." An investigatory committee will "recommend appropriate action" to church leaders.
Jeffrey Kuhner, a right-wing columnist for the Washington Times recently wrote about civil-rights activists, "They need the Travyon Martins to continue perpetuating their central myth: America is a racist and an evil nation. For them it's always Selma Alabama circa 1965."
Richard Land, on his radio program, told listeners, "They need the Travyon Martins to continue perpetuating their central myth: America is a racist and an evil nation. For them it's always Selma Alabama circa 1965."
The sentiment itself is obviously offensive, and though Land apologized for presenting someone else's words as his own, he didn't express regret for his smear against civil-rights activists.
There's also the historical context -- Land helps lead the Southern Baptist Convention, which has not always played a positive role in the nation's racial debates.
Religion News Service noted this report from Ed Stetzer, a Southern Baptist researcher, who wrote, "The Southern Baptist Convention still must earn a better reputation for racial inclusion and justice. As such, perhaps SBC denominational leaders are not the best persons to speak into racially charged situations, critiquing the actions of African Americans or African American leaders."