Speed Reads


America's largest Protestant denomination is having a #MeToo conversation

More than 1,400 Southern Baptist women — and counting — have signed an open letter calling for the resignation of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) President Paige Patterson because of "the dangerous and unwise counsel given by Dr. Patterson to women in abusive situations" and video of a sermon in which he "objectif[ies] a teenage girl and then suggest[s] this as behavior that is biblical."

The controversy was sparked by two recordings of Patterson's comments that first came to broad attention last week. In an audio clip from 2000, he describes advising a woman in a physically abusive relationship to remain in her dangerous situation and respond only by praying for her husband. Patterson said the woman returned with two black eyes and "said: 'I hope you're happy.' And I said, 'Yes ... I'm very happy,'" because the abusive husband chose to attend church for the first time after seeing his wife pray for him.

The second recording is a video from 2014 in which Patterson recounts seeing a "built" 16-year-old girl and endorsing teenage boys' objectification of her as "biblical."

"This pattern of discourse is unbefitting the sober, wise, and sound character required of an elder, pastor, and leader," the open letter says. "We declare that Jesus is nothing like this ... We cannot defend or support Dr. Patterson's past remarks. No one should."

A number of prominent Southern Baptists have endorsed the letter's aim. Ed Stetzer, a Southern Baptist professor, author, and editor of Christianity Today, documented a longer list of Patterson's inappropriate comments and urged him to retire. The Southern Baptist Convention is the United States' largest Protestant denomination.

Patterson, meanwhile, has refused to back down, telling The Washington Post he can't "apologize for what I didn't do wrong."