Thousands of women from the Southern Baptist Convention, America's largest Protestant denomination, have signed a petition asking to sanction one of its evangelical leaders. Dr. Paige Patterson of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary based in Fort Worth, Texas allegedly expressed "sinful" comments about women, sex and domestic violence in the last 20 years of service.
Nearly 2,700 women as of press time have signed the petition letter that urged the SWBTS Board of Trustees to act on Patterson's statements in interviews and during his services and conferences. Past audio clips and videos of the pastor recently surfaced that showed how he objectified a teenage girl and refused to scold another man for doing the same thing.
Patterson also gave "unwise counsel" to women in abusive relationships to remain in the marriage and submit to their husband despite their situation in a 2000 conference. He warned couples not to seek divorce for whatever reason because the burden will lie on the judge, who would lose his Christianity for breaking a home apart.
"These comments are damaging, sinful, and necessitate a decisive response," the women's letter stated. "The fact that he has not fully repudiated his earlier counsel or apologized for his inappropriate words indicates that he continues to maintain positions that are at odds with Southern Baptists and, more importantly, the Bible's elevated view of womanhood," the petition further read.
Patterson issued two statements in light of the controversy. On April 29, he condemned abuses to women and denied counseling them to stay in the marriage. He revealed that an abusive husband confronted him once because he counseled his wife about seeking protection.
The faith leader also reiterated his firm stand against divorce and told a woman wanting to leave her husband to pray for him instead. He pointed out, however, "God often uses difficult things that happen to us to produce ultimate good."
On May 1, Patterson also wrote another statement to reiterate that he denounces abuse. He, however, told the Washington Post that he would not apologize for his comments because he did not do anything wrong.