NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The top ethics official for the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Richard Land, says he'll retire next year.
Land says he will step down as the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission in October 2013 on his 25th anniversary with the SBC. The resignation was first reported by the Baptist Press, the news service of the SBC.
Land's letter to the ERLC board of trustees makes it clear that he's not retiring from the ministry and in his words not from "what is popularly called the `culture war"' Land has been the person most often called upon to articulate conservative Baptist views against abortion, same-sex marriage and women in ministry.
He was one of the chief architects of a 1995 resolution by Southern Baptists apologizing for their role in supporting slavery and racism. The denomination was founded when Baptists splintered over the issue of abolition during the run-up to the Civil War.
The SBC reprimanded Land and canceled his radio show in June after he made what church officials called "hurtful, irresponsible, insensitive, and racially charged" remarks on the air about the Trayvon Martin case. Land had to apologize for claiming President Barack Obama, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson had exploited the incident. Martin was a 17-year-old unarmed black teen shot to death by a neighborhood watch volunteer who is now facing a murder charge.
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