Tennessee Pastor Charged with Child Molestation


Matthew Dennis Patterson, a Tennessee pastor who opposed LGBTQ anti-discrimination bills, has been arrested for molesting children. Members of the Nolensville Road Baptist Church in South Nashville, Tennessee, complained that Patterson had asked to "engage in strange activities" with children. After police investigated the complaint and interviewed multiple church and staff members, they identified multiple victims, most of them boys. According to police statement, Patterson had asked children to sit on his face and stomach, sometimes in their underwear. At least 8 children were molested by Patterson from 1998 to 2017, and there could be more victims as the investigation continues.

According to the Patheos, Patterson refused to speak to police but the church leaders are fully cooperative with the investigation. Church member James Thomas, who is serving as a spokesman on this issue, said in an interview Friday night that the church will continue to work with police. “Anything we could ever do to help them, we would try to do,” he said. “We wanted to see this all the way through because nobody should ever hurt a child.” James Thomas said church leaders had no inkling of the allegations against Patterson until he resigned. Patterson abruptly left the church on Sept. 24, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. “The next day we found out the truth,” he said.

Patterson was a fierce opponent of LGBTQ community and, in 2003, he opposed the bill which contained measures against discrimination based on sexual orientation. At the time, he said: “We want to make sure we keep the pressure on, let them know that anytime they bring this up, we will be down here to oppose it.” The bill was intended to extend legal protections to cover workplace discrimination of lesbian, gay and bisexual people but many religious groups were fiercely opposing it. In 2011 a similar bill was eventually passed.

Patterson's past as anti-gay activist casts a new light on his arrest. A man who molests children takes "a moral stand" against LGBTQ rights, but it looks like his real intentions were to mask his own sins. The loudest defenders of morality are often those who are trying to draw attention away from their own wrongdoings.

It is important to learn from this case and use the experience to prevent similar things in future. Patterson abused his position and trust of the congregation, to perform his misdeeds. The whole community is obligated to react if signs of child molestation occur in order to protect innocent children. The most important thing is that Patterson is now under arrest and that his victims can get some justice. His bond has been set at $100,000.

Photo Credits: Find a Grave

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