After thousands of evangelical women signed a petition calling for his removal, a prominent southern Baptist leader has been removed as the president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The petition and Paige Patterson‘s subsequent removal came on the back of an audio clip that surfaced recently in which Patterson advised women who were being physically and sexually abused in their relationships to “pray through” the abuse. He also advised staying in abusive relationships and to “be submissive in every way.”
“I had a woman who was in a church that I served and she was being subject to some abuse and I told her, I said ‘All right, I want you to do this every evening,'” Patterson said.
“‘Get down by your bed as you go to sleep, get down by the bed when you think he’s just about asleep, pray and ask God to intervene.’ I said, ‘Get ready because he may get a little more violent when he discovers it,'” he continued.
According to a statement released by the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on Wednesday, Patterson was demoted to president emeritus of the the church after a a 13-hour board meeting. The statement did not specifically refer to Patterson’s comments but instead said that the position change was focused on “challenges facing the institution, including those of enrollment, financial, leadership and institutional identity,” adding that Patterson is being kept on “for the benefit of the future mission of the Seminary.”
The petition that led to his position change was signed by over 3,200 women from within Southern Baptist churches. But, there has also been those that have come out in support of the Patterson. A new petition with over 600 signatures alleges that the audio clip and demotion of the southern church leader are “malicious attacks” and referred to him as “a common father in the faith.”
This Tuesday, The Washington Post revealed new allegations that Patterson once told a woman who had been raped not to file a police report and to instead forgive her attacker. According to the woman, she was raped as a student at a different Baptist seminary in 2013 where Mr. Patterson was then president.
Several women who had called for Mr. Patterson’s removal said on Wednesday that the decision fell far short of the repercussions he should have faced.
“They got exposed so they had to do something, but he still gets a nice house, he still gets a pension, and they didn’t say what he said was wrong,” said Mary DeMuth, a Christian self-help author, who attends Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, Tex. “It’s just the old guard of the Southern Baptist Convention that appears to prefer their reputation over the truth.”
Paige Patterson will still receive compensation for the position he formally held.
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