By Aaron Earls
Paige Patterson has been terminated by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees, effective immediately.
Only a week after moving Patterson from president to president emeritus, the executive committee of the seminary’s board of trustees moved to immediately remove “all the benefits, rights and privileges provided by the May 22-23 board meeting,” according to a statement posted on the seminary’s website on May 30.
The committee stated it confirmed new information “regarding the handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against a student during Dr. Paige Patterson’s presidency at another institution and resulting issues connected with statements to the Board of Trustees that are inconsistent with SWBTS’s biblically informed core values.”
At a marathon, 13-hour full board meeting last week, Patterson was removed from the presidency but given the title of president emeritus and invited to stay as the theologian-in-residence and reside at the Baptist Heritage Center on campus.
As that meeting was being held, The Washington Post published an account of a female student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003, when Patterson was president there.
She said a fellow student raped her. When she reported this to the school, she said, Patterson and other administrators did not inform the police and encouraged her to not report the incident to the police either.
The woman said she was placed on probation for two years and told to forgive the man who allegedly raped her.
With the latest move by the executive committee, all of those initial privileges have been removed. He will no longer receive ongoing compensation from the seminary, live on campus, or retain the honorary title.
The new statement by SWBTS also reaffirmed the leadership of the interim president Jeffrey Bingham and stated the seminary’s opposition to abuse.
“Today, Dr. Bingham made it clear that SWBTS denounces all abusive behavior, any behavior that enables abuse, any failure to protect the abused and any failure to safeguard those who are vulnerable to abuse.”
Despite the move by the seminary’s trustees to oust Patterson, the former seminary leader is still scheduled to give the convention sermon at the upcoming annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas on June 13.
Patterson was chosen to deliver the prominent message by messengers—delegates from local Southern Baptist churches—at last year’s meeting in Phoenix. This selection took place prior to the public outcry over his past comments about women and the seminary’s board of trustees removing him as president.
Patterson has already stepped away from speaking at other events. The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders announced on Twitter that Patterson had “offered to be relieved of his duties” as the speaker at its banquet prior to the SBC annual meeting.
The leadership of the organization said it had accepted Patterson’s offer.
Current SBC president Steve Gaines said some have asked him to prevent Patterson from preaching in Dallas. In a statement on May 11, he clarified that he does not have the authority to make that demand.
“There are only two scenarios in which Dr. Patterson will not preach the Convention Sermon,” he said, “1) the messengers of the SBC vote at the annual meeting in Dallas for him not to do so, or 2) Dr. Patterson personally withdraws from that responsibility.”
If the second option does not happen, some have pledged to make sure the first does. Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, wrote on his blog at Christianity Today: “Dr. Patterson should not (and must not) preach the SBC annual meeting sermon.”
He told The Washington Post, “If he speaks at the convention, the incalculable damage of the last few weeks will be exponentially magnified.”
For Such a Time as This Rally, an event related to Patterson’s sermon and treatment of women in the SBC, is being organized for Tuesday, June 12, in Dallas during the annual meeting.
- Who’s the Man Taking Over for Paige Patterson?
- Trustees Shift Patterson to President Emeritus at Southwestern
- Seminary President Apologizes Over Past Comments on Women
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.