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Southern Baptist Leader Apologizes for Slur Against Jewish Senator

Posted: March 6, 2008

Dr. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, apologized for using a Yiddish slur in referring to a prominent Jewish member of Congress. 


In an apology printed on the Baptist Press web site on March 5, Dr. Land said he realized his reference to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, as a "schmuck" during the Criswell Lecture Series at Criswell College, Jan. 29-31, was careless and inappropriate. He said he had learned after the fact that some people consider the word crude, if not obscene.


"I apologize for my ignorance of that fact.  If I had known that, I would never have used the word," Dr. Land said, adding:  "I always attempt to avoid crude and offensive language as a matter of conviction."  Dr. Land went on to say that he was offended that some interpreted his remarks as anti-Semitic.  


While expressing concern about his poor choice of words, ADL did not accuse Dr. Land of anti-Semitism.  The text of ADL's letter to Dr. Land follows:

March 3, 2008

Dr. Richard Land
President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Southern Baptist Convention
901 Commerce Street, Suite 550
Nashville, TN 37203

Dear Dr. Land:

We were disturbed to read a report about your recent remarks at the Criswell Theological Lectures, held January 29-31 in Dallas, Texas. The report, and a transcript of your speech, includes a reference to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer as "the schmuck from New York."

If this report of your remarks is accurate, it is deeply disturbing. The use of this slur in a reference to a well-known and respected Jewish member of Congress would be offensive in any context, but it would be especially troubling coming from a Christian minister in a speech to theology students on God and country. We are concerned that the students who may have heard this remark will see it as an acceptable form of criticism against a Jewish public figure, when it is, in fact, not acceptable in the least and offensive in the extreme. The word "schmuck" is an obscene Yiddish term that is especially offensive to Jews who truly understand its meaning.

May we hear from you on this?


Abraham H. Foxman
National Director 

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