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Paige Patterson fired over mishandling abuse case

by Leigh Jones
Posted 5/31/18, 10:33 am

The governing board of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, voted Wednesday to strip former President Paige Patterson of his retirement benefits and status as “president emeritus” following an internal investigation into his handling of sex abuse claims. Patterson’s downfall began earlier this month over his comments about women, abuse, and divorce. Then, last week, a former student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., where Patterson was president from 1992 to 2003, revealed in a Washington Post report that Patterson told her to forgive the man who raped her and encouraged her not to report the incident to police.

Megan Lively announced on Twitter Monday that she was the Southeastern student at the center of the controversy, saying she was “not afraid, ashamed, or fearful.” Current Southeastern President Daniel Akin responded to Lively, tweeting, “Please know of our continued love, prayers and support. We are here for you.” Southeastern is conducting an internal investigation of Lively’s case.

Southwestern’s board initially tried to strike a middle ground in sanctioning Patterson for his behavior, but on Wednesday, board members said the latest information required further action. In its statement announcing Patterson’s punishment, the board insisted the seminary “stands against all forms of abuse and grieves for individuals wounded by abuse.” Patterson was a fixture in the Southern Baptist Convention, credited with leading a conservative resurgence within the denomination in the 1980s and 1990s. But as calls for his firing multiplied, SBC leaders distanced themselves from the former leader.

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Leigh Jones

Leigh is the news editor for WORLD Radio. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate who spent six years as a newspaper reporter in Texas before joining WORLD. Leigh also co-wrote Infinite Monster: Courage, Hope, and Resurrection in the Face of One of America's Largest Hurricanes. She resides with her husband and daughter in Houston, Texas.

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  • OldMike
    Posted: Thu, 05/31/2018 02:07 pm

    Stripping him of his retirement benefits?  Going way too far, imo.  He has been serving faithfully for years, regardless of mistakes made in dealing with sexual abuse. 

    I suspect those leading this action against Dr. Patterson are all younger than 55 or so, and do not have memory of just how radically different society's view of such things was, until the wide awareness of the Feminist Movement in the mid-60's.  He (and all of us his age) was brought up with beliefs and attitudes that were not easily shed as society changed around him/us. 

    We've had this discussion before, and I know I'm wasting my time trying to tell younger people just how different it was.  I'll pray for this situation.

  • Bonnie Jean
    Posted: Thu, 05/31/2018 03:38 pm

    Indeed, stripping him of his retirement benefits is over the top. Where is the grace/mercy? And the investigation about the student who was raped and his response to her?  How about a personal, sincere, specific apology from Patterson fto he, if not face to face, as "personal" as she would allow. It could/should include what he should have said to her. I am both a retired Senior who was raped by as stranger as a teen and have experienced several sexual harrassment situations over years as an adult. If this board can strip him of all his retirement benefits then apparently they could also choose to leave them intact and perhaps, after the investigation, ask/demand {?} he give her some amount of cash, as a symbol of the sincerity of the apology. Or maybe the cash should just come from the University. At the least it would help with her education. Have they offered her counseling?  

  • Tabitha
    Posted: Thu, 05/31/2018 06:22 pm

    Yes, taking away retirements benefits is completely inappropriate! He has served faithfully for many years as you said.  I hope his attorneys will prevent this.

  •  Peter Allen's picture
    Peter Allen
    Posted: Thu, 05/31/2018 06:25 pm

    Seems like his resignation (with retirement benifits) would be enough.  

    My being born in the early 60s, (older than 55) I have to say his words regarding women sound so much like I would expect from  a muslim.  Maybe growing up with 3 sisters gave me a different attitude.  With more than 30 years of marriage (one) I think a "co-equals" relationship with my wife has served us well.  Sure there have been times when she has not perhaps agreed with a job change / move (providing being my area of responsibility), and my ministry "calling"; and times when I have not agreed with her decisions in her areas of responsibility (eg: home economics & management, or her career / ministry "calling") but good relationhips have give and take.  Not one person that lords if over the other.   And at least she doesn't decide how I am going to decorate the garage!  

  • KA
    Posted: Fri, 06/01/2018 08:05 pm

    The Southwestern' Board's action is not only appropriate, but absolutely necessary. Another comment asks about grace and mercy for Patterson - better question - where was the grace/mercy in his actions toward the abused and attacked women? Hope to see a full article about Patterson with a full protrayal of his misconduct in the next print World. (In response to other comments - I'm almost 60 - age/generation has nothing to do with whether or not his actions were wrong - and they were heinous).

  • Joel
    Posted: Fri, 06/01/2018 08:44 pm

    Board members said that the latest information required action, even though it might be false.

    "On Thursday, Sharayah Colter – the wife of Patterson's (now former) chief of staff at SWBTS – produced a letter from the victim that seems to confirm that it was Dr. Allan Moseley, not Patterson, who handled the North Carolina case."

    "Grady Arnold, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Cuero, Texas, says a lot of people didn't like the conservative direction in which Patterson took the denomination years ago. That same faction, he argues, applied pressure on the Southwestern trustees to terminate the 75-year-old, even though – in Arnold's opinion – the allegations against Patterson weren't thoroughly investigated."

  • Joel
    Posted: Fri, 06/01/2018 09:03 pm

    And here is the post by Sharayah Colter referenced by One News Now story linked above:

    This post includes images of letters from the victim to Patterson.

  • Lizzy's picture
    Posted: Sat, 06/02/2018 01:41 am

    A former pastor once said in a sermon that until both sides have been heard from, the true story probably hasn't been told.  Perhaps I am growing old, but I am saddened by the rush to judgement when it appears only one side has been given a hearing. A 75 year old man who apparently has served the church faithfully has been turned out without even a pension so that the Southern Baptist denomination can show that it is listening to social media pressure. If he is truly guilty of "heinous crimes" as one person commented below - then let them be listed.  But until such time as that, perhaps extending grace to all concerned might be the more faithful and helpful approach.

    For those who think age/generation has nothig to do with what you assume to be true, that is only partly correct.  World view has everything to do with how you view a situation and the prevailing world view in our culture (and even within the church) has changed drastically from what it was when I was a young woman.  And not entirely for the better.  In this brave new world, everything seems to be reduced to caricatures of good and evil, and social media allows people to feel good about themselves for utterly trashing one of God's fellow loved and created beings in the pursuit of the current vision of justice.  The fact that a servant of Christ who turned out to be as fallable as the rest of us, will now lose everything because he has been made the public face of something that is currently the sin du jour (whether or not he is actually guilty), is terribly depressing.  None of us could face a minute scrutiny of our lives without sin being revealed.  None of us are perfect.  And all of us are in need of grace.