January 22, 2005

Terry Gross Interviews Richard Land

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 10:27 am

Terry Gross interviewed Richard Land and Jim Wallis on Thursday’s show. I will post shortly on the Wallis interview, but first, some obsrvations on the interview with Richard Land. He has been called the “Un-Falwell“, and he certainly does put a much better face on the Christian right than Falwell or Robertson. However, Terry Gross caught him contradicting himself on moral priorities. When she asked him about moral values, Land spoke about abortion and gay marriage. Terry later mentioned Wallis’ argument that peace and poverty are moral values and asked Land why conservative Christians focus so much on abortion and gay marriage instead of peace and poverty. He replied that it’s because that’s all the media ever asks them about. But given the earlier opportunity to talk about any moral issues he chose, he talked about abortion and gay marriage! Terry caught him on this, and I think it demonstrates nicely his focus on these two issues while ignoring much more pressing moral issues in the world.

Land then said that:

The single thing that would eliminate more poverty than any other single thing that could be done in ths country would be if the fathers married the mothers of their children.

Land demonstrates here a very narrow understanding of the issues surrounding poverty. Out of all the policy choices that we could make to reduce poverty: improving inner-city schools, raising the minimum wage, providing more job training or child-care subsidies, Land chooses this as his top priority. Not that it would be a bad thing, but if the father is unemployed it won’t do much to eliminate poverty if he is married to his child’s mother.

To test Land’s contention that conservatives don’t focus on abortion and sex to the exclusion of other moral issues, I queried Land’s Southern Baptist Convention’s resolutions webpage to see how many contained various keywords:

  • 3 mention homeless or homelessness
  • 12 contain the word poverty
  • 14 mention hunger
  • 17 contain the word disease, however several of these dealt with alcohol, drugs, gays and other topics unrelated to disease
  • 19 mention gambling
  • 31 contain the word homosexual or homosexuality
  • 37 mention abortion
  • 39 contain the word sexual
  • 74 mention alcohol, although only 43 of these were post World War II

It’s clear that conservative Christians are more concerned with the “shalt nots” than the “have nots”. I suspect that Land is not used to losing the moral high ground as he did when Terry Gross compared him to Wallis and progressive Christians. He couldn’t blame it all on immoral liberals, or Hollywood, or secularists, and set himself up as the keeper of true moral values.

I would like him to get very used to that feeling.


  1. […] to hear. So it was that Terry Gross’ interview of Jim Wallis directly followed her interview of Richard Land, and provided the context for it. As the conversation continued, Wallis spo […]

    Pingback by I am a Christian Too » Terry Gross Interviews Jim Wallis — January 23, 2005 @ 5:25 am

  2. It’s clear that conservative Christians are more concerned with the “shalt nots” than the “have nots”.

    Remember how absolutely crucial it is that we stop Spongebob Squarepants from brainwashing your children to be tolerant of people’s sexual orientation. Never mind the poor. God made them poor for a reason.

    Comment by Osama_Been_Forgotten — January 24, 2005 @ 11:29 am

  3. Richard Land
    While I disagree with Bob about bringing up abortion (it should be brought up as one of the great horrors of our time), I do agree with his concern that gay marriage is brought up as such a horrific problem while peace and poverty are scarcely mentio…

    Trackback by Dignan's 75 Year Plan — February 9, 2005 @ 6:30 am

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