PHOENIX — While the number of evangelicals in the United
States is rising, the moral health of the nation continues to falter, Richard
Land told messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting
In his report to the convention, Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics &
Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), said the ERLC continues to fight for the
sanctity of all human life, from conception to natural death and “everywhere in
Land said he was encouraged by recent polls that show a shift in opinions on
the life issue, noting that more than 50 percent of Americans described
themselves as pro-life in a May 2009 Gallup survey.
While some of the movement to a life-affirming position flows from “brilliant
arguments on the part of Christian spokesmen,” the greater cause appears to be
a growing “fertility gap” between pro-life and pro-choice couples, Land said.
“Since Roe v. Wade there is now a 41 percent fertility gap between those that
are pro-life and those that are pro-choice,” he continued. Over 50 million
babies have been aborted in the 38 years since the Supreme Court ruled in the
Since the court decision in 1973 that effectively legalized abortion on demand,
pro-life couples have been having their babies and raising them to appreciate
the preciousness of human life, Land said, adding that “pro-choice couples have
not had their babies and they haven’t raised them to be anything.”
“The younger you are in America the more pro-life you are,” Land said. “Every
year, another year’s worth of pro-life voters are added to the rolls and are
voting for pro-life candidates.”
Saying it is a welcome sign for the future, Land noted that last year’s
election resulted in more than a dozen new U.S. congressmen who are Southern
Land recalled a visit he made in early 2010 to Houston to protest the opening
of one of the world’s largest abortion clinics, a 78,000-square-foot facility
he said includes an entire floor dedicated to providing late-term abortions. He
said he was amazed that the great majority of those alongside him picketing the
center were under the age of 30, calling the abundance of young protesters a “pro-choice
“I am firmly convicted that if I live out a natural life span, I will live to
see the infamous Roe v. Wade decision end up on the ash heap of history, where
it belongs,” Land said.
Yet Land warned that the culture of death is “deeply imbedded” in the health
care reform measures signed into law by President Obama last year.
“We are called now not just to defend the unborn, but to defend those who are
terminally ill, those who are sick and those who are aged,” Land said. “Mark my
words: They are the new targets of Obamacare.”
Land expressed concern at the transfer of money from Medicare to fund the
president’s health care plan “just when Baby Boomers are hitting retirement.”
“People who are in Medicare will have to wait longer for a doctor. Once they
see a doctor, they will have to wait longer before they get treatment,” Land
said. “That is often a death sentence for those that are in that age category.
“Do not misunderstand me,” Land added. “We desperately need real health care
reform in America.” He cited a white paper developed by the ERLC’s Research
Institute, available on the entity’s website that outlines what he called “real
“I can tell you with certainty that whatever the issue is, whatever the problem
is, Obamacare is not the answer,” Land said.
If the president’s health care plan is not rescinded, most Americans will live
shorter lives, Land warned, citing mortality statistics in nations with similar
health care plans.
The ERLC is standing against the “generational theft” that is taking place in
Washington, D.C., Land said.
“Our government is borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends. It is
borrowing it from our children and our grandchildren and we are putting upon
them an insurmountable debt that will foreclose their futures,” Land said. “It
is immoral; it is wrong; and it must stop.”
The ERLC executive expressed gratitude for Southern Baptists’ Cooperative
Program, noting its support of the commission and pivotal role in his family’s
“As an entity head, as a person who considers it the honor and privilege of a
lifetime to have been asked to serve Southern Baptists, I am the product of the
Cooperative Program,” Land said, noting he and his father both were led to the
Lord in a church plant funded by the Cooperative Program.
“I was nurtured in the faith in a Southern Baptist church funded by the
Cooperative Program,” Land continued.
Yet Land said America is radically different than it was in the 1950s, when he
came to faith in Christ.
“At the end of the 1960s, our country took a wrong turn. We began to emphasize
rights and privileges at the expense of obligations and responsibilities,” Land
said, noting that the nation adopted the mantra of his generation: “Pursue your
own course. You are your own god.”
The litany of “expressive individualism” has led the culture down “dangerous
and corrosive” roads, Land said.
Marriage and parenthood
Social and economic issues cannot be separated as some are urging, Land said.
As an example, Land said, “Marriage is good for children. Marriage is good for
parents and marriage is good for society.”
Single parenthood has a “grim impact” on the majority of children in these
families, while noting there are some single parents who are performing “heroically”
and producing “well-adjusted, productive children,” Land said. “Yet the single
greatest cause of poverty in America is fathers who don’t marry the mothers of
their children or who don’t stay married.”
A majority of children today are growing up in single-parent homes, Land
lamented, noting these children are often more likely to engage in risky
behaviors, have academic and emotional issues and find themselves single
“How did we ever delude ourselves into thinking that this kind of generational
child abuse, perpetuated by selfish adults on children, was all right?” Land
asked. The U.S. government is spending millions of dollars a year “to make up
for the damage done by fathers who have not lived up to their obligations and
their responsibilities,” Land said.
“We need the gospel, and the gospel needs to be made clear that Jesus is a
changeless Savior for an ever-changing world,” Land said. “We need a revival.
We need churches to get right with God.”
Christians need to get “serious” about the gospel, Land said, noting that in
several social indices, evangelicals perform no better than the society at
Noting that mainline Protestants are now on the “sideline,” Land said the U.S.
has seen a resurgence of evangelicals, yet the nation is “worse off morally”
today, except in areas of racism and the “prejudices of sexism.” To a great
degree, the world has influenced the church more than the church has influenced
the world, he said.
Only when Christ-followers diligently “apply the truths of the gospel to the
evils of society” will the nation see the reformation it so desperately needs,
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hastings is a vice president of the Ethics & Religious
Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.)