Dr. Richard Land

Religious Liberty for All?

January 15, 2016

Southern Evangelical Seminary Leader Dr. Richard Land Says New Poll Results That Muslims Are Less Deserving of Religious Freedom Are ‘Concerning

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Religious liberty will be one of the most crucial—and most talked-about—issues of this important election year. But after a terrorist-driven attack in San Bernardino to close out the year, and with continuing violence both here and around the globe, Americans are deeply divided on who is deserving of religious freedom and who is not.

new poll conducted by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that a vast majority place a high priority on preserving the religious freedom of Christians, but fewer think other religions deserve those same protections.

Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land, who also serves as the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES,www.ses.edu), says those results are concerning, especially in a country that was founded on religious freedom.

“While it can be understandable that fear and trepidation surround the Muslim faith for some,” Land said, “it is deeply concerning that nearly 40 percent polled feel that religious liberties are reserved only for those who think and believe like we do. Those who peacefully practice their faith are much different than the radical extremists who carry out violence and seek to instill fear in the name of Islam. However, those seeking to overthrow society or to employ violence to coerce others must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Commitment to the First Amendment does not require Americans to sign a suicide pact that allows our enemies to use our freedoms to undermine them.

“The fact is that America was founded on religious freedom,” he continued, “becoming home to those who wanted to escape persecution for their beliefs. And while the world has certainly changed over the past 200 years, those tenets must remain pristine and inviolate. Our commitment to soul freedom must remain stalwart and unwavering.

“We must always remember that what we allow the government to do to others, they can do to us tomorrow. When I was a boy, it seemed that the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Mormons came to our door at least twice a week during dinner time. I asked my mother, a devote Baptist, ‘Why can’t the government stop them from bothering us during dinner?’ My mother wisely replied, ‘Son, if we allow the government to do that to them today, they can do that to us tomorrow.’ Among the many prices of freedom is the fact that you will sometimes be inconvenienced by the actions of others. That inconvenience does not include being killed or being prevented from exercising those freedoms.”

According to the poll: The poll was taken at a tumultuous time in America, between Dec. 10 and 13, just over a week after Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple, opened fire at a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. Fourteen people were killed and 22 injured, most of them county employees.

  • 81% say religious liberty protections are important for Christians
  • 61% say the same is true for Muslims.
  • About 7 in 10 say preserving Jews’ religious freedom is important
  • 67% say Mormons warrant these protections.

Last March, SES hosted the conference titled “Answering Islam,” which asked questions such as “What do Muslims believe about Jesus?” and “What are the differences between the God of the Bible and the God of the Qur’an?” The event aimed to equip Christians to express their love and care for Muslims through sharing the Gospel with them in fulfillment of the Great Commission mandate. Now, the free online videos from the sessions are available online at the SES web site.

“As the national conversation turns more and more to the Muslim faith and its place in America,” Land said, “these resources are excellent for those looking to understand more about world religions, the differences between Christianity and Islam, and promoting an intelligent and heartfelt understanding of the Muslim religion.”

Recognizing the importance of understanding Islam, SES is home to the Institute of Islamic Studies, which offers the Certificate in Islamic Studies designed for those interested in increasing their knowledge and effectiveness in reaching Muslims. This certificate prepares pastors, teachers, missionaries and lay persons for apologetic and evangelistic ministry and outreach to Muslims around the world. Students already accepted into a degree program may add this as a Concentration in Islamic Studies. Courses offered in the Certificate or degree concentration require students to complete special research on Islam.

Southern Evangelical Seminary is a leader in apologetics education—teaching students to defend their faith and talk intelligently, passionately and rationally about what they believe and why they believe it. Many courses focus on societal issues from a Christian worldview, delve into scientific apologetics or contemplate creation research.

Land is featured in his nationally syndicated daily radio commentary, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” which airs on 235 stations on the American Family Radio Network and 100 stations on the Bott Radio Network. “Bringing Every Thought Captive” is also podcast daily on the free SES mobile app and airs locally in the Charlotte, N.C., area every weekday. The “Bringing Every Thought Captive” television program, hosted by Land, debuted in January on the NRB Network, and airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and midnight EST. “Bringing Every Thought Captive” also reaches nearly 2 million households in the Chicago area on the Total Living Network. For more information about stations, times, downloads and more, click here.

Land has taught as a visiting or adjunct professor for several seminaries and has authored or edited more than 15 books. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University in England and his bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from Princeton University. Land also earned a Master of Theology (Honors Program) degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received the Broadman Seminarian Award as the Outstanding Graduating Student. Dr. Land was the 2013 Watchman Award recipient from the Family Research Council for his leadership on moral and cultural issues. He also received the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth from Biola University in 2010. Land served previously (1988-2013) as president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention’s official entity assigned to address social, moral and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families. In 2014, he was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow of the ERLC’s Research Institute, and in 2015, he was named in the top 15 of Newsmax’s “Top 100 Christian Leaders in America.”

Southern Evangelical Seminary invites visitors to its web site to join the more than 20,000 people who have already downloaded the SES Apologetics App for Windows mobile devices and Android and Apple phones and tablets. Those with the app can get the very best news and information in Christian apologetics, including articles, audio, video, blogs and more from today’s most able defenders of the Christian faith—William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, William Dembski, Frank Turek, Hugh Ross, Gary Habermas and other well-known speakers, authors and teachers.

Southern Evangelical Seminary has been ranked as one of the top graduate programs for General Christian Apologetics by TheBestSchools.org’s “Top 10 Graduate Programs in Christian Apologetics.”

For more information on SES, visit its web site at www.ses.edu or its Facebook page, follow the SES Twitter feed, @sesapologetics, or call (800) 77-TRUTH. For more information about SES’ “Ethics in Emerging Technology” program, visit www.ethics.ses.edu.  

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For information on SES or to set up an interview, contact Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102, or Beth Harrison, 610-584-1096, ext. 104Media@HamiltonStrategies.com  

Southern Evangelical Seminary is a leader in apologetics education—teaching students to defend their faith and talk intelligently, passionately and rationally about what they believe and why they believe it. The accredited Christian college and seminary offers a wide variety of bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Programs can be completed through residence in the Charlotte area or online. The award-winning education at SES is distinctively Christian and focused on evangelism and world-engaging defense of the Christian faith—Christian Apologetics.