Ben Johnson

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Richard Land retiring: he held Southern Baptists to Biblical values of life and family

Ben Johnson

NASHVILLE, August 1, 2012, ( –  One of the leading voices in the pro-family movement has announced his retirement.

Dr. Richard Land, who has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) since 1988, stated in a letter released Thursday that he will step down from his post on October 23, 2013.

He chose the date to coincide with his 25th anniversary in office. The announcement came so early to allow for a smooth transition to new leadership.

During his tenure in office, Dr. Land has made the nation’s largest Protestant denomination a leading force in the pro-life, pro-family movement.

The Baptist Press noted Land’s two predecessors at ERLC, then known as the Christian Life Commission (CLC), had been pro-choice or not firmly committed to the pro-life cause.

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The political direction of the SBC changed under his leadership. Dr. Land, then 41 years old, spoke out on issues ranging from abortion and homosexuality to pornography and economics. In February, he told Southern Baptists “will not comply” with the HHS mandate. “We want the law changed, or else we’re going to write our letters from the Nashville jail, just like Dr. King wrote his from the Birmingham jail,” he said. 

He has advised political leaders at the state and national level, as well as serving on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. In the process Land, who earned a Doctorate of Philosophy from Oxford University, has been named by Time magazine as one of “The Twenty-five Most Influential Evangelicals in America.” 

Dr. Land said that service has been the “honor, privilege, and blessing of a lifetime.”

He will now turn his attention to the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his personal ministry, which is detailed at

“I’d hate to see him go,” said American Family Association Founder Don Wildmon, “but if he’s going to stay in the wars that’s good.”

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