Southern Baptist Seminary Drops Bombshell: Why Paige Patterson Was Fired
By Sarah Pulliam Bailey
June 1, 2018
In a bombshell announcement Friday night, leaders of a Southern Baptist seminary explained the reasons they decided two days earlier to fire their president, a longtime leader of the denomination. In a statement, they asserted that Paige Patterson lied about his treatment of an alleged rape victim in 2003, and that in 2015 he tried to meet, with no other officials present, with another woman who had reported a sexual assault so he could “break her down.”
Concerns surrounding the behavior of Patterson, who until a few weeks ago was a towering figure in the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest U.S. Protestant denomination, with about 15 million members, have roiled conservative evangelical circles since recorded remarks surfaced this year that were viewed by many as demeaning toward women. They included Patterson’s advice to a woman to return to her abusive husband.
On May 22, the seminary’s trustees demoted the 75-year-old Patterson from his position as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, citing vague reasons about his leadership that did not include mention of comments about or treatment of women. Many Southern Baptists considered that decision too lenient because it allowed Patterson to remain on staff as “president emeritus” with compensation and the ability to retire with a campus residence.