Photo Credit: The Guardian
Paige Patterson, prominent Southern Baptist leader, has been removed from his position as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary after he made inappropriate remarks about abused women. The allegations were made that Patterson once counseled women who suffered marital abuse to pray for their husbands, also he allegedly told a woman who said she had been raped to forgive her assailant rather than report the incident to police.
More than 2,000 Southern Baptist women signed an open letter demanding Patterson's ouster and warned Southern Baptist Convention leaders not to allow "the biblical view of leadership to be misused in such a way that a leader with an unbiblical view of authority, womanhood, and sexuality be allowed to continue in leadership." Days after the letter, Patterson issued "An Apology to God's People" saying he was sorry "to every woman who has been wounded by anything I have said that was inappropriate or that lacked clarity." "We live in a world of hurt and sorrow, and the last thing that I need to do is add to anyone's heartache," Patterson said in the statement, as National Public Radio reports. "Please forgive the failure to be as thoughtful and careful in my extemporaneous expression as I should have been."
Nevertheless, Patterson has been quietly replaced, and the seminary leaders avoided revealing the reason for Patterson's removal stating only that the seminary is moving in the direction of new leadership, also the board appointed Patterson as "President Emeritus." He will receive compensation and may live on campus as “theologian-in-residence” at a brand new Baptist Heritage Center. Seminary leaders' decision to remove Patterson is a logical move after his controversial remarks, but some Southern Baptists are concerned that allowing Patterson to live on campus and his continued compensation indicate that Southern Baptists still aren't taking discrimination against women seriously enough. Also, the lack of condemnation of sexism from seminary leaders is raising some concerns.
Krissie Inserra, a signer of the letter and the wife of prominent young Tallahassee Southern Baptist pastor Dean Inserra, said she was disappointed the seminary didn’t go further. “Women and men in the SBC and in general aren’t going to stand for this. There has to be some real consequences, and we need to show people — we need to have the conviction to do what’s right. None of this was right,” she said, according to The Washington Post. “Just because he had a major role to play decades ago — and we’ll be forever grateful for that — there still need to be consequences for his actions in recent years.”
Patterson's comments are controversial and inappropriate but they are also dangerous because abuse can never be tolerated or covered up. A person who tells a victim not to report a crime is pretty close to an accomplice. The victim is being victimized again and serious consequences could appear and that's why the punishment for these deeds should be serious. Patterson's removal from position, together with his continuing compensation and living on campus, does not sound serious enough.